Are you an art enthusiast? Have you wished your day in quarantine was replaced with a stroll through a gallery? Lucky for you, a plethora of museums are now offering virtual access to its works and exhibitions in response to COVID-19 closures. Yes, a virtual tour is definitely not the same as an actual visit. However, this content may give you something to tackle in your excess of free time.
After visiting several different museum websites, I have come up with a list of popular and universally loved museums worthy of a brief — or extensive — Google search.
The Art Institute of Chicago
The museum has compiled a highlight collection of their most well-known and beloved works of impressionism ranging from Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jette” to Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Bedroom." If you really want to feel as if you are walking amidst a gallery, pop in some headphones and listen to the audio recording available for each piece to learn more about its artist and context. Calming music plays in the background of the recordings, truly manifesting that soothing gallery walk feel.
Additionally, The Art Institute of Chicago has compiled various ways to virtually experience its exhibit “El Greco: Ambition and Defiance." Several different articles discussing themes of El Greco’s works are included along with a video tour of the exhibition and an interactive virtual timeline exploring El Greco’s life and career highlights as an artist. If you find fascination in Greco’s "Assumption of the Virgin" — the central piece of the exhibit and of Greco’s career — you can dive deep into its context, location, how it remains preserved and more.
Add some French flair to your day in quarantine and visit Musée d’Orsay’s site.
I was not overwhelmingly impressed with the museum’s online access. However, if you view “Selection of works” in the website menu you can view a collection of D’Orsay’s most famous works such as Claude Monet’s “Blue Water Lillies,” Paul Cézanne’s “Apples and Oranges" and Henri Rousseau’s “Snake Charmer.”
Each piece has a fairly detailed context and artist description that is definitely worth a read. Musée d’Orsay is home to primarily French works or various mediums dating from 1848 to 1914. If this is your cup of tea, put on your beret and visit Musée d’Orsay’s website. Frankly, the Louvre’s website is not worth your time.
Guggenheim Museum, New York
If you are a fan of architecture, the Guggenheim Museum has stellar virtual content for you. The website has nine different audio tracks of highly knowledgeable Guggenheim staff member discussing various aspects of the Museum’s architecture.
Beyond the audio tracks, there are various videos, pictures, timelines and information about the museum’s fascinating architectural history. The website only has virtual access to 10 of the museum’s most famous pieces, but the virtual access of the museum’s architectural history definitely makes this a worthy search.
Van Gogh Museum
For all the Van Gogh fans out there: this is for you!
Of the different museums reviewed, this museum has the widest range of virtual content. In addition to context available about Van Gogh’s life as an artist, the website has access to stories about Van Gogh, written letters, biographical videos, information about the museum’s “Unravel Van Gogh” app and a virtual look into the museum. Van Gogh museum’s resources even provide movie recommendations for the perfect Van Gogh movie night.
Google Arts & Culture
If you are a visual learner or appreciate a beautifully organized and easily accessible website, I highly recommend exploring Google Arts and Culture.
Through the website you can search from over 2000 world renowned museums and view pieces by art movement, artist, time period and other criteria. If you are intrigued by any of the artworks you come across within your search, Google Arts and Culture allows you to zoom into the pieces for a closer look, while providing you with facts about the piece.
My favorite feature provided by the website is the ability to view artwork by a selected color, resulting in the most aesthetically pleasing google search you will ever encounter. I had never heard of Google Arts and Culture pre-quarantine, but I am absolutely blown away.
Each of these websites are worthy of a bit of your free time. However, if you had to pick one, explore Google Arts and Culture and you will not be disappointed.