A virtual tour of a museum is a wonderful way to enjoy art and history without leaving your own home. With worthy museums located all around the world, we will never be able to visit them all. When wanderlust strikes and you can’t zip to another country, an online tour offers an opportunity to expand your vision and enjoy culture without crowds, noise, and stress.
So many museums offer virtual tours. To help you narrow down which ones to “visit,” I’m highlighting some that I have been to and personally appreciated. Whether or not you ever do travel to these places, you can take in the best of what they have to offer. Some are large and some are small, and all have left a mark on my life. I’m pleased to share these with you and hope you will enjoy them online.
Musee D’Orsay in Paris
The glass ceilings let in natural light to illuminate the art. The museum, opened in 1986, is spacious and inviting. You’ll enjoy seeing the building as well as the art.Collections cover the years of 1848 to 1914. The D’Orsay owns one of the largest collections of Impressionist paintings in the world, with works by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas and Claude Monet. Sculptures and photographs are also on display.
The D’Orsay Museum in Paris
Anne Frank House in Amsterdam
This house is where young Anne, her family, and four others went into hiding during World War II. When conditions in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam threatened Jews, Otto Frank ushered his family into hiding at the back of the building where he ran his business. Friends built a revolving bookcase to hide the door to the annex. Anne lived this way for two and a half years, until her arrest. Anne wrote a journal of her experiences, not knowing that her words would one day be published and spread far and wide.
The museum website offers an excellent virtual tour of the Anne Frank House, along with historical background and information. The annex is preserved as it was during Anne’s time here, and it’s fascinating to see.
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is the largest art museum in the United States. It’s home to more than two million works of art. Covering 5,000 years of history, exhibits aim to show “both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and across cultures.” Choose from many exhibits to tour online.
I was last at the Met in December 2019, and spent a delightful rainy afternoon wandering here. My favorite current exhibit was Arms and Armor. Full-size suits of shiny silver are on display designed for both men and horses. You can see this exhibit here (it’s a link for kids, but aren’t we all young at heart?): Arms and Armor at the Met.
For a variety of tours, visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A Morning at the Met in New York City
The British Museum in London
This “Museum of the World” is vast and looks at history as a way of connecting people. Extensive online offerings cover Art and Design, Living and Dying, Power and Identity, Religion and Belief, and Trade and Conflict. Choose from different continents to explore these topics from different cultures. You can also click on the timeline to narrow down the era. This is a fun website to play around with, no matter what your interests may be.
Visiting the British Museum
The Louvre in Paris
Especially interesting is the virtual look at the famed Mona Lisa. In person, you battle hordes of people to get near this rather small work of art. Now you can relax and learn about the Mona Lisa from the comfort of your couch.
The Capitoline Museum in Rome
The Capitoline Museum overlooks the Forum, with the Colosseum beyond, so it is in the heart of the city. It’s easy to miss, as it’s in the shadow of popular tourist draws, but it’s worth a visit, online or in person, because it is filled with amazing works of Roman art.
The creation of the museum goes back to 1471. Pope Sixtus IV gave a collection of bronze statues to the people of Rome and housed them here. From that time on, donations of artworks were gathered here. During the later 16th century, Pope Pius V decided to get rid of “pagan” art in the Vatican, and those treasures were brought to the Capitoline Museum.
The online tour begins in the courtyard and continues through the galleries. This is a visually appealing and fun online site.
The Vatican Museum
This great depository of art developed several 360-degree online looks at different areas. You can drag your cursor from floor to ceiling and study all the fascinating objects and art and architecture. This museum is often so packed with people that it’s difficult to see much. The first time I visited, the crowds pushed me along and I actually lost my tour group for a while. The next time I went, I booked an early morning tour so I could go through before the official opening. I was able to sit down in the Sistine Chapel and gaze at the famous ceiling at leisure.
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
You can click on more than 4,000 works of art to learn more about them. Pick your favorite Van Gogh masterpieces and learn more about them. This is another website that has an enjoyable and extensive children’s section where you can learn more about the artist’s life and his most famous works.
The Getty Museum in Los Angeles
J. Paul Getty collected more than 400 works of art, including European paintings. Since his death in 1976, the museum has continued to acquire art. Sculptures, paintings, and photographs span the eighth to the 21st centuries. The most well-known painting belonging to the Getty Center is Vincent Van Gogh’s Irises.
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