No More Netflix With These 14 Museums Offering Virtual Tours

Staying in doesn’t have to mean losing access to culture.

By Martin Lerma 18/03/2020

In the wake of the intensifying Covid-19 pandemic, many of the world’s most venerable art institutions have been forced to temporarily shut their doors. Luckily, that doesn’t mean that we’ve lost access to the countless treasures housed by these great museums offering virtual tours. Thanks to the extensive Google Arts & Culture project, more than 2500 spaces from around the world are accessible online, including a few Australian favourites. Here are 14 of the very best.

MoMA, New York

Founded in 1929, the Museum of Modern Art was the first museum dedicated to collecting and presenting art from the modern era. The institution’s holdings showcase some of contemporary art history’s most famous paintings from the likes of Van Gough and Picasso. Google may only present 129 of those artworks, but they are some of the world’s most notable, including Henri Rousseau’s The Dream, Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Cézanne’s The Bather. 

MoMA virtual tour

A virtual look at one of MoMA’s galleries. Courtesy of Google

Musée d’Orsay, Paris

A staple of Paris’s art scene, the Musée d’Orsay was built in 1900 in a former railway station and has since focused its collection on art from 1848 to 1914. Peruse the virtual exhibition and 278 other pieces on Google, which include van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles, Degas’s The Ballet Class and Millet’s Gleaners.

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

As one of Australia’s leading art museums, the Art Gallery of New South Wales holds a mixed collection of historical Australian pieces both colonial and indigenous alongside a range of European and Asian works that emphasise the multicultural nature of Sydney, and Australia’s history.

Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Designed by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for a member of the powerful Medici family, the Uffizi Gallery is a standout even among Florence’s many storied institutions. Built over centuries, its holdings include some of Italy’s most important works from artists like Caravaggio (Medusa) and Raphael (Madonna of the Goldfinch). You can peruse 156 of them virtually.

The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Featuring works from the eighth through to the 21st century, The J. Paul Getty Museum houses its collection in one of Los Angeles’s most striking buildings, with a sweeping view of the city. Though visitors may not be able to appreciate either of those features in person, Google allows you to view nearly 16,000 pieces from the museum’s extensive archive, including Rembrandt’s Rembrandt Laughing, Renoir’s La Promenade and Van Gough’s Irises.

A virtual look at one of the Getty Museum galleries.

A virtual look at one of the Getty Museum galleries. Screengrab

The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), is Australia’s oldest public art museum, with a collection of over 70,000 works. Split into two sites, the NGV International houses an encyclopaedic collection of international art, while the Ian Potter Centre is home to an extensive collection fo Australian art highlighting works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities.

National Museum, New Delhi

The National Museum has been India’s premier museum since opening its doors in 1949. Today, it is home to thousands of works of art spanning 5,000 years of history, including painting, sculpture, jewelry, ancient texts, armor and decorative arts. Over 600 of those items are documented for viewing online.

The Art Institute of Chicago

Home to one of the largest permanent collections of any museum in the United States, The Art Institute of Chicago houses 260,000 pieces of art from across the centuries. Nearly 600 of those works are made accessible digitally through the Arts & Culture initiative, including Mary Cassatt’s The Child’s Bath, Cézanne’s The Basket of Apples and Julia Margaret Cameron’s portrait of Julia Jackson.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Arguably America’s premier museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a New York icon with one of the most celebrated collections anywhere in the world. Twenty-six virtual exhibits and over 200,000 documented works give digital viewers a taste of pretty much any art form in pretty much any era, from Pieter Bruegel The Elder’s The Harvesters to Chanel’s iconic suit.

met museum virtual tour

A view from The Met’s famed gallery featuring The Temple of Dendur. Courtesy of Google

Museo Frida Kahlo, Mexico City

La Casa Azul is where acclaimed artist Frida Kahlo lived and died, and it is also home to the museum honouring her life and artistic legacy. Nearly 70 examples of Kahlo’s personal effects, artworks and attire are accessible digitally, including the body cast she famously painted while ill and Self-Portrait Wearing a Velvet Dress.

Tate Britain, London

One of Britain’s top museums, the Tate was opened in 1897 and has built a substantial collection of U.K. art created since Tudor times and a large holding of J.M.W. Turner’s work. 270 works of arts––Dante Gabriel Rosetti’s Proserpine and Millais’ Ophelia––available through Google show just how diverse its inventory is.

La Galleria Nazionale, Rome

With over 20,000 artworks, La Galleria Nazionale’s collection includes pieces from the ancient past and more contemporary works belonging to the Futurism and Surrealism movements. Nearly 500 masterpieces from its collection are digitally documented, including Monet’s Ninfee Rosa, Antonio Canova’s Ercole e Lica and Boldini’s Ritratto di Mademoiselle Lanthèlme.

rijksmuseum virtual tour

A view of a gallery in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Courtesy of Google

Rijks Museum, Amsterdam

If Vermeer or Rembrandt ranks among your favourite artists, Amsterdam’s Rijks Museum is a must. A whopping 164,511 pieces of artwork from the revered institution are available for viewing in high-definition via Google’s platform, with notable examples being Vermeer’s The milkmaid, Rembrandt’s Self Portrait and Verspronck’s Portrait of a Girl Dressed in Blue.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Founded in 1937, the Guggenheim is among the most important organizations fostering an understanding of modern and contemporary art and architecture. Over 200 works from its impressive holdings are viewable through Google’s portal, some examples being Glenn Ligon’s Prisoner of Love #2 and Julieta Aranda’s Two shakes, a tick and a jiffy.


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