With safety protocols in place to stay home and avoid crowds, many operations have been halted, including museum tours. You may have had travel plans that included visits to museums that have now been canceled. Thanks to ever-evolving technology, you can still have your cultural fix in the comfort of your home through virtual museum tours.
We’ve compiled a list of the best digital tours offered by world-class art and science museums, not just in the country but all over the world!
What Is a Virtual Museum Tour?
Virtual museum tours allow you to experience being inside museums, looking at the exhibits, and walking their hallways through digital displays. Think of it like an MMORPG where you get to move your character within a virtual world. Some of the exhibits are interactive—which means you can click on items, and they will provide you with information about an art piece or a scientific display. They can sometimes even be animated!
These tours are either guided or to be explored on your own, much like in real museums. They offer audio guides or, sometimes, digital tour guides that you can see, depending on the museum’s features.
So, what are the best museum tours that you can enjoy on your computer? Here are the best 12 we’ve listed based on variety, features, and accessibility.
1. The Getty Museum
The J Paul Getty Museum in LA, California, is one of the best when it comes to virtual museum tours. It offers a whole range of artistic pieces, some dating back over 6,000 years. It houses some works by Van Gogh, and the graphics are incredibly breathtaking that you will feel like you are looking at the actual artwork. You will also see some sculptures that are originally curated outdoors, photographs, and more. This digital tour is also accessible through the Google Arts and Culture tool.
2. The Vatican Museum
Another great place to see digital exhibits of actual artifacts and artworks is the Vatican Museum in Rome, Italy. Even non-religious people flock to this museum for its beauty and grandeur. You can marvel at the famous ceiling by the great Michaelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. It also offers a virtual tour guide to fill you in with essential details about the artifacts and art pieces.
3. Van Gogh Museum
For fans of one of the most beloved artists of our time, Vincent Van Gogh, you can now visit this famous site dedicated to him in Amsterdam. Here, you can see over 200 paintings and even his letters and drawings. Access the digital tour through Google Arts and Culture tool.
4. Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
This museum in New York, right down 53rd Street, Manhattan, also offers virtual tours. Take a look around and explore some of the most famous artworks, including some of Van Gogh’s works. The exhibit houses over 150,000 paintings, and you will also have the chance to digitally interact with sculptures and architect models, complete with 360 views.
5. Guggenheim Museum
Another popular spot in New York is the Guggenheim Museum, where you can walk around picturesque staircases and hallways right from your desktop. It also has an enormous collection of impressionist and contemporary art. You take the tour from up the museum, moving downward. You will be moving as though you are playing a game from the first-person perspective.
6. British Museum
The first national museum in the world now offers virtual tours for everyone located anywhere. Here, you will learn about human history, allowing you to interact with artifacts from different eras. See the Rosetta Stone and other marvelous creations from thousands of years ago!
7. National Palace Museum
Suppose you want to travel to Asia and see one of its most popular cultural destinations, head over to the National Palace Museum’s website. This Taipei museum offers exhibits boasting 700,000 pieces from 8,000 years ago, especially Chinese artifacts.
8. Art Institute of Chicago
One of the largest museums in the US, the Art Institute of Chicago offers virtual tours that will take you 5,000 years back to see art creations from all over the world. Explore over 300,000 artworks from the 11 categories. Another great thing, especially for students, is that you can participate in take-home projects, and educators can also take hold of resources from the museum.
9. The Broad
Another wonder in Los Angeles, CA, is The Broad. It’s a contemporary museum housing almost 2,000 pieces of modern art. See the works of 200 modern artists and be in awe! Step inside its amazing Infinity Mirror room while listening to relaxing music.
10. Grand Palais
Been dreaming of going to Paris, France, to marvel at its beautiful artworks? Now you can, with its virtual museum tour! The Grand Palais lets you have a look around its massive exhibition hall and even participate in some of its virtual art fairs and events. Watch the exhibits come to life right at the comfort of your home.
11. High Museum of Art
This museum in Atlanta, Georgia, may not be the biggest but still offers an exciting collection that you can now view virtually. It showcases American art from the 19th to 20th century. You will also see some European paintings, African art, and contemporary photography.
12. Hermitage Museum
Ah, one of the most pictured museums on Instagram is the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It is the second-largest in the world and is a dream destination for those who love culture and the arts. See the Madonna Litta by Leonardo Da Vinci as well as works by Rembrandt and many more!
Will You See All Exhibits in the Museums?
Unfortunately, due to limitations in technology and exclusivity of access to some of the pieces, you may not be able to see all the exhibits in these virtual tours. However, it is still a great privilege even just to take a peek at these marvelous creations and artifacts!
Why Visit a Virtual Museum?
The most important reason why it’s good to visit a virtual museum is to never stop learning. It’s a great application of VR in education to help with these troubled times. With all the restrictions in place these days, access to cultural experiences is limited. Virtual museum tours will help you be immersed in the arts and marvel at the scientific progress humans have made over the years.
Apart from that, it’s just a fun experience and it will prepare you for the live tours once these establishments reopen!
WC Williams wrote, “It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” You can say that the same is true for all forms of art. Virtual museum tours help us to not lose touch with this side of our humanity. So, try some of the digital tours above and get your culture fix today!