With so many of the world’s museums and galleries currently closed to the public, virtual tours have made it possible for the impressive collections to be viewed and enjoyed from the comfort of our homes. From London to Los Angeles, you can explore the treasures housed in these famous sites.
Here are the top 10 best virtual tours of museums and art galleries to enjoy today.
1. British Museum, London
The iconic British Museum was the first national museum in the world when it opened in 1759. Through the museum’s virtual tour, you can now gain access to some of the 8 million works housed within its walls. Take a virtual tour of over 60 galleries on Google Street View, including the infamous Great Court. You can also see some of its most renowned items, including the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles. For a closer look at some of the objects contained in the museum, you can also access History Connected, the museum’s own interactive infographic platform.
2. Guggenheim, Bilbao
Perhaps best known for its impressive steel and titanium building, designed by Frank Gehry in honour of Bilbao’s industrial and naval history, the Guggenheim houses a vast collection of modern art. As well as the iconic piece ‘Maman’ by Louise Bourgeois located outside of the museum, you can also view some impressive works by Cy Twombly, Mark Rothko, as well as works by Holzer, Kapoor and Koons. You can also take a tour of the postwar European and American painting and sculpture collections.
3. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
A renovation project of the museum was completed in 2013, complete with a glass-roofed atrium and modern lighting. The Rijksmuseum is home to an immense collection of art and historical objects. With 80 galleries to explore, the interactive tour allows you to feel as though you are actually walking through the museum’s halls. As well as the Great Hall, you can discover the beautiful works of Dutch masters from the Golden Age, including works by Vermeer and Rembrandt, amongst others.
4. MASP, São Paulo
The Museu de Arte in São Paulo is Brazil’s first modern museum and originally opened in 1947. Considered to be the very best museum in Latin America, the Museu de Arte has been internationally recognized for its European art collection. Additionally, it also features Brazilian artworks, including prints and drawing, as well as some smaller Asian and African art collections. The museum is home to over 8,000 pieces and one of the biggest art libraries in Brazil. With artworks which have been placed on clear glass frames and panels, they appear to be simply suspended in mid-air. The virtual tour will allow you to experience six different online galleries in this impressive museum.
5. Natural History Museum, London
A favourite museum for both visitors and Londoners alike, the Natural History Museum contains 80 million life and earth science specimens. Visited by over 5 million people each year, it is the most visited natural history museum in all of Europe. The interactive online guide allows you to become immersed in the museum’s vast corridors and galleries. From specimens in jars to butterfly collections, to some of the oldest human skeletons to be found, you can see what this museum has to offer from the comfort of your home. As well as learning more about Hope, the 82-foot long blue whale, you can also find out about Dippy the dinosaur, which was previously housed in the entrance hall.
6. Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Originally built as a railway station and hotel, Musée d’Orsay is today home to the biggest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works of art in the world. Most of the artwork contained within the museum is French art from between 1848 to 1914. Through the virtual tour, you can view works by some of the French masters, including Cézanne and Monet. For those interested in finding out more about the history of the building itself, there’s also an online exhibition available.
7. Vatican Museums, Rome
The Vatican museums are filled with rich artworks and objects. From elaborate tapestries and murals to impressive vaulted ceilings, there is plenty to explore in the museum’s virtual tour. Of particular interest is the stunning and infamous ceiling inside the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, depicting nine scenes from the Book of Genesis. You can also explore the rest of Vatican City by taking a You Visit virtual tour, which includes Saint Peter’s Basilica and Square, as well as guided narration which offers more information about each of the significant sites.
8. National Gallery, London
With over 2,300 paintings and European art dating from the mid-13th century through to 1900, the National Gallery in London is a popular destination for art lovers. The gallery is home to famous works, including ‘Sunflowers’ by Van Gogh, as well as ‘The Virgin on the Rocks’ by Da Vinci. There are three different virtual tours on offer, including a Google Virtual Tour, as well as a tour of the renown Sainsbury Wing and a third tour which enables you to explore 18 different rooms within the gallery, including the Central Hall.
9. J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Regarded as one of the best art museums on the west coast of the United States, the Getty Museum contains pieces dating back 6,000 years. In addition to its vast collection of sculptures, drawings, paintings and manuscripts, the Getty also contains a highly regarded collection of photographs in its Centre of Photographs. The virtual tour features two of its most popular and prized treasures, ‘Irises’ by Van Gogh and ‘La Promenade’ by Renoir.
10. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Containing over 500 drawings, 200 paintings and over 750 personal letters by Vincent van Gogh, the Van Gogh Museum is a must-see for fans of the tragic painter. Explore the largest collection of Van Gogh’s work via the Google Arts and Culture tool, which provides access to the whole museum.
With so many virtual tours freely available, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Take the opportunity to explore museums you might otherwise never have had the opportunity to visit and marvel at their beautiful collections.
This is a guest post by Katherine Rundell who is a successful writer at Academized, where she regularly writes about travelling. In particular, Katherine enjoys exploring the art and history of the places she visits and immersing herself in the culture and language. When not writing or travelling, Katherine enjoys spending time reading and doing yoga.