Your Whole Family Can Enjoy These Virtual Museum Visits from the Couch
As the coronavirus continues to spread, governments and institutions across the globe are still looking to mitigate further transmission. Although most folks know to practice social distancing, many countries — and cities across the United States — went a step further and instituted shelter-in-place guidelines, which are continuing in many areas.
People who live in the affected areas are not just encouraged to stay home; they're essentially required to do so unless they’re grabbing groceries, traveling to the doctor or getting a little fresh air. Many retail outlets, tourist attractions and public institutions remain closed while local governments attempt to slow the spread of the virus. However, museums are finding unique ways to keep would-be guests engaged. From virtual tours to meditative livestreams, here are the wonderful works of art and exhibitions you can enjoy from the comfort of your couch.
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
First up on our list is Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, which is, as the name suggests, dedicated to the influential Dutch post-impressionist painter. In just over a decade, Vincent van Gogh created roughly 2,100 works of art, including a staggering 860 oil paintings. For its part, the museum houses the largest collection of Van Gogh works in the world, including roughly 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 750 letters under one roof.
Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, U.S.
These days, the town of Monterey may immediately bring to mind now-iconic gifs of Laura Dern, Reese Witherspoon and co. playing the deliciously dramatic Monterey moms from HBO’s Big Little Lies, but the region is also known for its incredible, trailblazing Monterey Bay Aquarium. When it opened in 1984, the aquarium was the first of its kind to maintain a living kelp forest.
Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand (MASP), São Paulo, Brazil
MASP, Brazil’s first modern museum, was designed by Lina Bo Bardi and is thought of as a landmark in architecture of the 20th century. While the building itself is beautiful, perhaps the most defining feature of the museum is the way it displays its collection of 8,000 works. Instead of hanging paintings on white walls, Bardi introduced the radical "crystal easels" as a means of displaying the works.
Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France
Sure, you could spend your time taking a virtual wander through the Louvre — home of the infamous Mona Lisa — but for a much more relaxing experience, we recommend trading one Parisian site for another. Although it’s slightly less well-known than the Louvre to the average tourist, the Musée d’Orsay is one of Europe’s largest art museums, welcoming approximately 3.6 million visitors each year.
National Women’s History Museum, Alexandria, Virginia, U.S.
Even though many of us are staying indoors as much as possible, we can still celebrate women’s history from our homes — and we can do so in style, thanks to the National Women’s History Museum. This Virginia-based institution "seeks to honor the lives and legacies of all women, living and dead" and "explore the stories of women whose contributions have enriched our lives."
The Walt Disney Family Museum, San Francisco, CA, U.S.
You don't have to travel to Anaheim or Orlando to experience some Disney magic. In fact, even under business-as-usual conditions, you don’t have to trek to either of those locations for your dose of Disney. Whether you’re a film buff, animation lover, history enthusiast or just a huge Disney fan, The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco is a must-see institution.
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, New York, U.S.
Located in Midtown Manhattan, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is one of the largest and most important museums in the world thanks to its incredible collection of modern and contemporary art. With a library of over 300,000 books and catalogs, over 1,000 periodicals and over 40,000 pieces of ephemera relating to artists, it’s also the primary source for all things modern art history.
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C., U.S.
While most of the other museums on our list rely on Google Arts & Culture for their virtual "boots on the ground" tours, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History has built its own rather robust website-based tour. The virtual tour of the museum allows visitors to experience self-guided, room-by-room tours — no travel necessary.
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
The J. Paul Getty Museum — a.k.a. The Getty — is a two-campus art museum located in southern California. In 2016, the museum welcomed more than 2 million visitors, and while they won’t be adding to 2020’s figures right now, you can still get a taste of what the Getty has to offer from the comfort of your living room.
Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy
In cataloging history through art, Italian cities like Florence, Venice and Rome remind us of humanity's resilience, even in desperate times. There’s no doubt that the Uffizi Gallery, one of the country’s most-visited art spaces, is one of those reminders. The Gallery is famous across the globe for its collection of ancient sculptures and busts acquired by the prominent Medici family as well as its Renaissance masterpieces. Thanks to Google Arts & Culture, you can study works by Michelangelo, Botticelli, Caravaggio and more and even take a virtual stroll through the two-story building — all while keeping your slippers on.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, New York, U.S.
According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), when it was founded back in 1870, the institution didn’t own a single work of art at the onset. Now, The Met’s collection has swelled, representing "more than 5,000 years of art from across the globe — from the first cities of the ancient world to the works of our time." While going to The Met in person can be an overwhelming experience — it’s hard to know where to even begin! — the online version of the collection is just as formidable — in the best way, of course.