With the emergence of the COVID-19 global pandemic, events have been postponed, travel plans have been canceled, and life is not what we’re used to. These are difficult times, but having some sort of normalcy can be comforting. Whether you’re mourning that fantastic Louvre visit that was part of your Paris trip, Sundays at the Met, or you’re simply a fan of museums and going stir crazy on your couch—here’s something that may help.
Many museums or galleries have online images you can click through, but here is a list of best virtual walking tours you can take as if you were really there.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
With over 5,000 years of art from around the world, this museum is a must. Thank goodness we can stroll through it from home. Begin your tour at the Temple of Dendur, then make your way through the hallways and galleries of every floor in 26 different virtual exhibits. If you’re keen on getting a bit more of an in-depth look at current exhibits, the Met’s website has pages to scroll through with rich images and video content.
Musée d’Orsay, Paris
This museum was installed in the former Orsay railway station, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, and it’s a must-see for every Paris goer. Luckily, even if you can’t go to Paris right now and satisfy your art wanderings at this exquisite museum, you can still wander the halls virtually and see all that it has to offer — right from your couch.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washing, D.C.
This national American museum icon features a collection of 145 million specimens and artifacts and could take some visitors a couple of days to finish touring. Luckily, if you’re virtually touring you won’t even need to worry about how many hotel nights to book. Complete with zoom in, zoom out, and a navigation map, this virtual tour experience really takes you away. Additional digital resources can be found on the museum’s website.
Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Located in Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center features works of art dating from the eighth through the twenty-first century. You can virtually tour some of the 6,000 years of art that the two Los Angeles locations feature and become swept away very quickly. When you’re done looking at the art, you can watch some of the videos featured on Getty Museum’s website, such as intaglio printmaking or the art of tapestry.
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Built in 1965, the Israel Museum is the largest cultural institution in the State of Israel is ranked among the world’s leading art and archaeology museums. Within in its far-ranging collection of nearly 500,000 objects, the museum houses encyclopedic collections, fine arts, and Jewish art, and features the most extensive holdings of biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world. Currently boasting a landing page that states, “the museum is closed, come in!” The Israel Museum continues to work diligently to offer all of its diverse exhibitions online.
The British Museum, London
Located in the heart of London, this museum is home to the Rosetta Stone and features Egyptian mummies and thousands of artifacts — which you can sift through in this unique, virtual tour. Though more of a “space and time” virtual tour than a visual walkthrough, this experience proves no less immersing and enjoyable. And it’s complete with sound effects! For more of a traditional touring experience, you can see several attractions virtually through the museum’s website.
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul
Opened in 1969, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) has lived through the history of Korean art and, with four locations, established itself as a representative institution of Korean modern art. Boasting perhaps one of the most comprehensive efforts to digitize its museum experience, MMCA offers “meet our curators” on YouTube in addition to virtual tours of both the exterior of the museum and exhibits inside.
Museu de Arte de São Paulo, São Paulo
The Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) is a private, nonprofit museum founded in 1947. It was Brazil’s first modern museum and today it houses numerous works, including paintings, sculptures, objects, photographs, and costumes from a wide range of periods, encompassing art from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. You can virtually explore much of the vibrant works housed in this museum through two tours offered online.
The Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
The Van Gogh Museum houses the largest collection of artworks by Vincent van Gogh in the world, featuring over 1500 paintings, drawings, and letters from the late artists. You can spend hours taking virtual tours of each of the four floors this museum features, soaking in as much Van Gogh as you like. When you’re done, visit the fantastic webshop to color your world at home.
Le Gallerie Degli Uffizi, Firenze
Located in the Historic Centre of Florence, this museum was originally designed Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de’Medici to house the Granducal Magistratures of Tuscany. The museum is housed in a complex that was completed over the course of 20 years and houses famous works such as The Birth of Venus. It’s famous for its outstanding collections of ancient sculptures and paintings, from the Middle Ages to the Modern period.
Hopefully, this will all be over soon and we’ll all be gliding down the hallways of museums from New York to Seoul — but until then, this is not a bad alternative.