You don’t have to travel to the world’s art capitals to see great art. Ideally, art should be experienced in person. But in our increasingly digitized world, it is becoming more and more possible to recreate that intimate experience without physically being in the room. Museums around the globe have created virtual tours of exhibits, immersive VR experiences, and online catalogs of collections to bring world class artworks to anyone with a phone or computer and a WiFi connection.
To navigate this digital landscape, we’ve compiled a list of 6 internationally acclaimed museums you can visit from the comfort of your own home:
1. British Museum
Thanks to the Google Cultural Institute and its Street View technology you can now virtually explore 80,000 artifacts in the British Museum, just as they are displayed in the museum. Though these artifacts only represent about 1% of the museum’s collection, you can still get up close and personal with the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles. Not close enough for you? The museum is collaborating with Oculus to launch a VR tour next month.
2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
You don’t have to be in New York City to enjoy The Met’s two million works of fine art.The museum’s online collection features some of its most impressive pieces, including works from Vermeer, Jackson Pollock, and Titian. Like the British Museum, The Met also works with the Google Cultural Institute to make even more artwork available for closer view, including the Temple of Dendur.
3. The Louvre
As one of the world’s largest art museums, this iconic Parisian institution has not rushed to hop on the Google bandwagon. Instead, you can take one of the museum’s three self-produced 360-degree tours through some of the most important and popular exhibits, including the Egyptian Antiquities. Alas, the Mona Lisa is not included on these tours. But you can get closer to da Vinci’s masterpiece (without fighting the crowds) with this interactive site.
4. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
While there’s no virtual tour that can quite convey the beauty of the building’s architecture - designed by Frank Lloyd Wright - the Google Street View gets pretty darn close. Be sure to look up at the rotunda’s skylight, or “oculus”, which spans 58 feet and contains 169 sections of glass. The museum makes some of its collection and exhibits available online for those who want to get a taste of the museum’s offerings, including works from Franz Marc, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso, and Jeff Koons.
5. Vatican Museums
The lines to enter the Vatican Museums are notoriously long. But you don’t have to wait for hours to see the extensive collection of iconic art and classical sculptures curated by Popes over centuries. The museum has created virtual tours, allowing you to wander the museum grounds and famed exhibits, including Michelangelo’s ceiling of The Sistine Chapel.
6. J. Paul Getty Museum
A relative newcomer by museum standards, the Getty Museum opened in 1974 and has become a must-visit attraction in Los Angeles. Not feeling up to traveling to both of the museum’s campuses? Google comes to the rescue yet again, allowing you to amble freely around the Getty Center at your own pace and poke around the Getty Villa. The museum’s vast online collection will keep you comfortably immersed in art for years.
For a complete list of museums you can visit online through the Google Cultural Institute, click here.