In Arts + Entertainment

Culture From The Couch: Every Museum And Gallery Open For Virtual Viewing

The travel industry is in a state of flux, but it will return bigger and better than ever in time. While many Australians have placed their adventures on hold for now, it doesn’t mean we have to stop travelling completely. After all, travel is more than just a physical journey – it can be a journey of the mind too.

Though it’s true nothing compares to the rush your feel in the back of an Indian tuk tuk or the symphony of flavours at a Michelin starred restaurant, there are many ways to still see the world and expand your mind without setting foot outside. For one, you could visit some of the incredible museums and galleries of the world now offering virtual tours.

From ancient civilisations in The British Museum to thought-provoking contemporary art in the Guggenheim, these are the essential museums you can visit online right now.

The British Museum – London

A journey through millennia of human history; The British Museum possesses one of the world’s most comprehensive antiquity collections. Their interactive timeline allows you to explore different eras and civilisations from across the globe, with detailed inscriptions revealing the stories of each museum piece.

The Uffizi Gallery – Florence

Google’s Arts & Culture app is a treasure trove of inspiration and information. A quick scroll through its archives will reveal a wealth of artists, mediums, historical figures and museums to explore. The Uffizi Gallery in Florence is one of countless galleries you can visit via Street View, which allows you to step inside and explore the opulent halls of this grand 16th century building.

The Louvre – Paris

Image: Musee du Louvre / Angele Dequier

As iconic as the exhibits within it, the Louvre is an essential destination for every serious art lover. Though not all exhibits are online, there’s still plenty to see including relics from the time of Egyptian pharaohs, the medieval moat that once surrounded the original fortress on which the Louvre stands, and the painted ceilings of the Galerie d’Apollon.

The Advent of the Artist virtual exhibition, featuring the likes of Rembrandt and Delacroix, is well worth checking out. If you have a VR headset, you can also download the ‘Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass’ experience to get a closer look of this famed masterpiece.

The Vatican Museums – Vatican City

Home to a collection of art and sculpture curated over the centuries, The Vatican Museums is a must-visit. Though that’s not possible right now, their extensive online collection is the next best thing. The Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s Room and the New Wing are captivating.

The Met – New York

The Met in New York City is more than just an annual meeting place for celebrities in outrageous fashion. It’s home to more than two million pieces of art by the likes of Jackson Pollack and Van Gogh. The Met 360° Project is a series of six short videos that allow you to look up, down and around the museum as if you were standing inside.

National Museum of Australia – Canberra

Image: National Museum of Australia / supplied

Not to be left out of the digital age, the National Museum of Australia is also open for virtual viewing. Sporting prowess, convict heritage, and indigenous culture are just the beginning.

Rijksmuseum – Amsterdam

The Milkmaid by Vermeer, The Stone Bridge by Rembrandt, the Merry Drinker by Frans Hals… the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam will take you on a journey of European art and history from the Middle Ages to the present day.

The Dali Museum – St. Petersburg, Florida

Embrace the surreal with a visit to The Dali Museum in Florida, dedicated to the works of Spanish artist Salvador Dalí. This tour is mainly dedicated to the building, which is as unique as the artworks inside, though you can still explore the extensive collection on the site.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History – Washington D.C.

Do you know your Jurassic from your Cretaceous? You will after navigating the impressive 360-degree virtual tour of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Almost the entire museum is available in high-res, allowing you to zoom in and read many of the exhibit inscriptions, and expand your knowledge of the natural world in the process.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum – New York City

Image: The Solomon R. Guggenheim MuseumDavid Heald

Bathed in natural light, the spiral staircase of Guggenheim has been featured in countless films over the years. It’s gorgeous. But if you think that’s all it has to offer though you’re missing out. The bold, contemporary artworks displayed on its crisp, white walls are even more impressive.

Though virtual travel won’t tide us over forever, the borders will reopen once more, life will return to normal, and the world will once again know the joys of travel – in the flesh.

(Lead images: The Solomon R. Guggenheim MuseumDavid Heald) 

Published 23 March, 2020