Virtual visits: Art collections and experiences online

Uncertainty about safe and healthy travel these days has caused many of our plans to be interrupted or canceled. For hours we had planned itineraries, scheduled exhausting (but fun!) days, and made must-do, must-eat, and must-see lists, but sadly those lists will remain unchecked for now. The strolls we imagined we would take in renowned parks and sites? Not going to happen. All the delicious food we were supposed to enjoy in the quaintest of restaurants and cafés? Still untried. And the paintings, sculptures, and other pieces of art that we planned to visit and study in world-famous museums? Luckily we can see those by virtual means.

Photo of Musee d'Orsay and Pont Royal
Musee d’Orsay and Pont Royal, by Daniel Vorndran / DXR

Hundreds of galleries and museums closed their doors to the public as travel restrictions were announced. And while on-site visits are not possible at many of them, we are still able to view some of their artistic offerings online, including some at well-known sites in popular destinations. We can watch documentaries featuring exhibits on Kanopy (by searching for “museums and galleries”); on Access Video, explore what is behind the scenes in many different museums around the world in Museum Secrets; and, for our younger travelers, take brief but entertaining video field trips with LeVar Burton to aquariums, Central Park, libraries, and other fun places.

Photo of Museo Frida Kahlo

Additionally, many institutions around the world provide us with their own curated virtual tours, accessible through their own websites or Google Arts and Culture. We can walk through the Musée d’Orsay in Paris in its former railway-station glory and visit Impressionist paintings and sculptures. Or explore an artist’s home filled with family photos, in Mexico City’s Museo Frida Kahlo, where Frida Kahlo herself lived and created. Maybe New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art was on that to-visit list–it’s celebrating its 150th Anniversary this year! We can also get up close and personal by zooming in on these artworks to see the remarkable details of each piece. And with only a smartphone, wake our inner artist with activities like Art Transfer or meet our painting look-alikes with Art Selfie.

This is a good time to take a break to explore these collections and be entertained from the comfort of our homes.

~posted by Joan C.

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