The “new normal” of staying home can quickly turn to boredom. At a certain point, you’ll be looking for something to break up the monotony of Netflix binges and endlessly scrolling through social media. Many museums have begun providing virtual tours and online offerings during this time, so you can still get a little culture and education while you’re sheltering at home. You don’t even have to leave the couch! Here are a few virtual museum tours that we recommend.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) in New York City is the largest art museum in the United States and the third most visited in the world. It is famous for hosting the annual Met Gala as well as for its extensive collection of art. Its permanent collection contains over two million works, including European, African, Asian, modern American, and ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian. The museum is also home to collections of costumes, musical instruments, and antique weaponry.
Much of what the Metropolitan Museum of Art offers can be accessed online. You can take a virtual tour from the comfort of your home with immersive 360° videos that allow you to explore some of the museum’s iconic spaces, like the Great Hall. You can view The Met Collection, which includes more than 470,000 objects, online; browse at your leisure or take advantage of the highlights chosen by museum curators. The museum also has audio guides, downloadable catalogs from past exhibitions, and educational programs.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (the Guggenheim), also located in New York City, is an art museum dedicated to Impressionist, post-Impressionist, modern, and contemporary art. The museum itself is also a work of art – a cylindrical building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright with an infamous spiral rotunda. The Guggenheim is home to about 8,000 permanent pieces from the late 19th century through modern day.
Over 1,700 of those works – by more than 625 artists – are featured in the Collection Online, a searchable database of the selected artworks. You can take a virtual tour of the Guggenheim Museum or learn more about the history of the building by listening to their audio guide. The Guggenheim also has an archive of video interviews with staff members, interviews with contemporary artists, and family-friendly online art classes.
The J. Paul Getty Museum (the Getty) in Los Angeles is comprised of two separate campuses. The primary museum, the Getty Center, houses primarily European paintings, drawings, and sculptures, including works by Vincent Van Gogh and Michelangelo. The secondary museum, the Getty Villa, displays art from Ancient Greece and Rome.
The Getty has many exhibitions from the collection available to peruse online, including featured highlights. You can also explore the museum with a 360° virtual tour via Google Arts & Culture. The Getty produces two podcasts plus has audio tours with images from past exhibitions. They also have a virtual library, free databases, and educational videos.