When it comes to visiting museums I’ve always thought there were three kinds of people. Some people start their visit early in the day and stay until closing time. Others rarely visit or never visit museums. The third group, of which I am a member, enjoys museums, rarely stays the whole day and chooses which museums to visit based on the museum’s specialty. But now it doesn’t matter because, with this list of museums offering virtual tours, everyone can be a museum visitor on their own schedule and from their own home.
Here are the 12 best museums offering virtual tours:
British Museum, London
London is a spectacular city filled with interesting sites. It’s certainly a city not lacking in culture, art, or museums. The British Museum focuses on human history, art, and culture. It houses eight million works and its collections are considered among the largest and most comprehensive in existence. The virtual tour includes Egyptian mummies and tours of the Great Court.
Guggenheim Museum, New York
The Guggenheim Museum was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the permanent home of a continuously expanding collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern, and contemporary art. The museum also features special exhibitions. It’s fun to take the virtual tour and discover if any of this artwork from the various eras speaks to you.
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
I’ve never met anyone who visited the J. Paul Getty Museum who wasn’t in awe of its location. To have a museum with such dramatic architecture, lovely gardens, and views of Los Angeles from atop the Malibu hills is a treat with a cherry on top!
The Getty, established in 1974, houses European art collections which date from the 8th Century. Through your virtual tour you’ll explore huge collections of paintings, drawings, sculptures, manuscripts, and international photographs of European art as well as art from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.
MASP, São Paulo
The Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) is a non-profit museum. It is also Brazil’s first modern museum dating back to 1947. The MASP showcases 10,000 pieces of art from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas including Brazil. It covers time periods from antiquity to the 21st century. The museum includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, clothing and other media. Both the museum architecture as well as the way artwork is displayed make this a fascinating virtual tour experience.
Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Ah, Paris. The city of wonderful architecture, delicious almond croissants, and museums satisfying everyone’s diverse interests. The Musee d’Orsay building was originally a railway station built in the early 1900s. The museum opened in 1986. It holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914. This includes paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. Take a virtual walking tour and see the works of Monet, Cezanne, Gauguin, as well as many other artists from that time period.
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
There are two online exhibits you can view from the National Gallery of Art’s virtual tour: a museum called the Nation’s Museum. One exhibit displays works from painter Johannes Vermeer. The second exhibit is of American fashion from 1740 to 1895. It is fascinating to see the clothes worn during colonial times as well as during the Revolutionary era.
The museum also has an amazing sculpture garden. While I might not be a devoted museum-goer, I am very much a fan of sculpture gardens. When in-person visits to this museum resume, do visit the sculpture garden!
National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
As I write this I was actually scheduled to be in Mexico City this week visiting this museum. While the actual trip will have to be rescheduled for another time, this virtual tour is a nice experience for now.
The National Museum of Anthropology opened in 1964. It is devoted to the archaeology and history of Mexico’s pre-Hispanic civilizations. Its 23 rooms showcase ancient artifacts, including some from the Mayan civilization.
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul
The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) opened in 1969. It is the only national art museum in Korea. Through the virtual tour you’ll explore both modern and contemporary art of Korea as well as international art of different time periods.
Pergamon Museum, Berlin
If you enjoy ancient artifacts and history, this is the museum and virtual tour for you! The Pergamon Museum is one of Germany’s largest museums and was established in 1910. The museum is one of the most popular attractions in Berlin and is world-famous for its archaeological holdings.
Its physical location is on Museum Island. The museum is really three museums in one: the Collection of Classical Antiquities (also on display in the Old Museum), the Museum of the Ancient Near East, and the Museum of Islamic Art. The museum houses monumental buildings such as the Pergamon Altar, the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, and the Market Gate of Miletus.
Amsterdam is another one of those cities that has so much to offer. The city makes you wonder if you should spend time inside a museum. This was one of the few museums I’ve visited that I actually bought books from. I wanted to have a visual reminder of how wonderful the museum is.
The Rijksmuseum is dedicated to art and history. It was established in 1800. The offerings at the Rijksmuseum showcase a wide variety of art spanning more than 800 years of Dutch and global history. On your virtual tour you’ll see paintings by Rembrandt and Van Gogh. You will also see works of the great Dutch artists from the Dutch Golden Age.
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
The first time I went to the Van Gogh Museum I stood in line for 90 minutes in the rain. No regrets! It is, after all, one of the most popular museums in the world.
The Van Gogh Museum houses the largest collection of art by Vincent Van Gogh. The huge collection includes paintings, drawings, and personal letters. The museum was established in 1973 and also includes works by Van Gogh’s contemporaries. Don’t know whether or not you’re a Van Gogh fan? This virtual tour will surely help you decide!
Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Is there anyone who doesn’t adore Florence? Even if for the moment we have to suspend visiting her delicious restaurants and gobbling up her outrageous gelato, we can still enjoy her art by taking virtual tours.
This two-floor gallery is housed in a building constructed between 1560 and 1580. The Uffizi is famous worldwide for its outstanding collections of sculptures and paintings (from the Middle Ages through modern times) from one of Italy’s most famous families, the de’Medicis.
Museums offering virtual tours is a wonderful gift to us all. I was actually surprised to see that I had visited 7 of the top twelve when visiting their home cities. I say surprised because as mentioned, I don’t consider myself a “serious” museum-goer. When traveling I am more likely to take long walkabouts, get lost, and end up at a special coffee house. Of course, during some museum visits, I have indeed walked a lot, gotten lost, and yet still ended up at a cafe. That’s what makes traveling so much fun!
Are there museums you’ve visited that you’d like to visit again? How about museums offering virtual tours that you’ve taken and would recommend?
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