Take a virtual museum tour to explore thousands of obscure and iconic sites
A virtual museum tour may be an artistic answer to all this social distancing, so if cabin fever and has got you down, take a digital trip to some of the world’s most iconic places.
As you work to ward off coronavirus claustrophobia, consider checking out a local museum. Or, better yet, the The Louvre in Paris or The National Gallery in London. And you can see it all from the comfort of your couch.
Some of the world’s most famous museums have, for years, provided online virtual tours using Google’s 360° Virtual Tour. This is the same technology used in Google Street View. It uses specially designed cameras to capture high-resolution images of every nook and cranny of a site—from the lopsided top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa to the intricate detail in Michelangelo’s paintings in the Sistine Chapel. Therefore, these HD digital tours offer a unique opportunity for virtual viewing the world over.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Guggenheim Virtual Museum Tour, New York
Like most museums, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is temporarily closed because of the coronavirus containment, but virtual visitors can still get an up-close look at its iconic corkscrew design.
The building was designed to give visitors the experience of walking up a spiraling ramp and viewing its collection of art in one continuous journey. Above all the goal of this grand stairway is to inspire wonder.
The museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is home to a collection of impressionist, post-impressionist, modern and contemporary art.
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea
The expansive National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art showcases art in four buildings in Seoul, Korea. Certainly, the museum is a source of pride for the Korean people.
The museum opened in 1969. In its early years, most of its exhibits featured work by senior or deceased artists. By the 1980s, museum curators expanded the collection to include artworks from an array of international artists. For example works by Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol, Georg Baselitz, Jörg Immendorff, and Marcus Lüpertz are prominently displayed.
Today, the popular Seoul museum has brought a fresh focus on relatively overlooked genres of art. Current exhibits celebrate print, craft, photography, and new media, and also continuing to spotlight traditional mediums from international and domestic artists.
Virtual Museum Tour, Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Virtually step into Taj Mahal, a famous symbol of India’s rich history. The ivory-white marble mausoleum stands tall in the Indian city of Agra. Mughal emperor Shah Jahan commissioned the work in 1632 to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. As a result, the site was dubbed, the Taj Mahal.
The tomb is the centerpiece of a 17-section complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house. In 1643, workers completed the mausoleum, but it took another decade to finish the rest of the project.
It took about 20,000 artisans to complete the project and cost an estimated 32 million rupees. In 2015, that equated to about 52.8 billion rupees, or $705 million.
Australian National Surfing Museum, Sydney
The Australian National Surfing Museum showcases the annals of wave-riding history. The museum is beloved by locals, because of surfing’s prominence in Australia. Through colorful displays of surfing artifacts, photography and fashion, the museum commemorates Australia’s surfing heritage and rich beach culture.
Many have advanced the sport of surfing. For example, Hawaiian native Duke Kahanamoku popularized the sport in Australia. In 1915, he gave a demonstration in Sydney, consequently, surfing became a favorite Aussie pastime.
While virtual tourists may live far from epic waves, this virtual museum tour will give them a taste of the salt water Down Unda, mate!
Alcatraz Island, Virtual Museum Tour, San Francisco
The tour of Alcatraz Island offers a close-up look of the the infamous federal penitentiary. For instance, the tour also shows the first lighthouse on the West Coast and explores artifacts from the 18-month occupation by Indians of All Tribes.
This collection features high-resolution images of objects made by notorious inmates, historic photographs and documents and inmate artwork. In addition, the tour showcases artifacts from the famed “Escape from Alcatraz” saga, later made into a Hollywood feature film.
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Virtual Museum Tour, Los Angeles
The J. Paul Getty Museum’s dramatic architecture, lush gardens and views of Los Angeles serves as the perfect backdrop for its art collection. In addition, the museum houses works from the 8th to 21st Century and its exhibits highlight European paintings, drawings, sculpture, manuscripts and decorative arts. Of course, also on exhibit are European, Asian and American photographs.
The museum’s namesake derives from an American-born, British oil industrialist – J. Paul Getty – who founded the Getty Oil Company, and subsequently, became an avid art collector and philanthropist. The Getty museum exists today because Getty’s family continued his legacy.
Choose your own adventure
If you’re seeking more ways to enrich your social distancing experience, try visiting artsandculture.google.com for thousands of sites and explore each from home. Certainly there are no shortage of options.
For example, discover Milan Cathedral, take a virtual walk along Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, step into the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in Iran, or cross London’s Tower Bridge. Heck, you can even duck into explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s hut in Antarctica.
Journalist and author Danielle Nadler grew up in South Dakota, where a patient writing teacher fostered in her a love for stories told well. She's worked for newspapers across the country and recently launched a storytelling company called Tales and Ales.