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Scratching Your Art Itch: Museums Gone Virtual

Haley Kurisky
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Guggenheim

Virtually walk along the iconic spiral staircase at the Guggenheim. (Photo: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York / Photo: David Heald
© The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)

As Houstonians, we are so used to having world-class museums in our backyards, so the social distancing and quarantining that comes with coronavirus unfortunately has us missing out on our culture fix. However, art and museums are still at our fingertips! Check out all the museums you can virtually tour and immerse yourself once again in art and culture. 
 
The Guggenheim Museum, NYC
A voyeuristic way to check out the spiral staircase and art at the Guggenheim, one of NYC’s top art attractions: Google Maps! Virtually walk yourself along the staircase for a unique view. You can also learn more about the history and design of the building by listening to the museum’s audio guide, created with the podcast 99% Invisible.   

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
The NGA is featuring two online exhibits, including an exhibit about early American fashion and a second one about the Dutch painter Vermeer. Find more digital education resources from the gallery here.  
 
Musee d’Orsay, Paris Musee d’Orsay, Paris
Arguably Paris’s second most famous museum, the Musee d’Orsay virtual guide features a complete account of the museum’s fascinating history.  
 
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Another Google street view tour! Check out all the beautiful classic paintings in the museum, including works from Rembrandt. Having been to this museum myself, I can attest to the vastness of the collection, featuring many local Dutch artists. You can also check out this video series, where the museum curators share short videos about their favorite works of art.
 
The British Museum, London
One of the most well-known museums in Europe, the British Museum allows museumgoers to take a jump back in history. Even the opening sequence on the webpage is stunning. 
 
MASP, Sao Paolo MASP, Sao Paolo
Brazil’s first modern museum, MASP has pieces from Brazilian artists and beyond, all matted on easels that make them appear as if they’re floating. Tour many of their galleries using the Google Arts and Culture App
 
Picasso Museum, Barcelona Picasso Museum, Barcelona
Although this virtual tour only allows viewers to see the courtyards of the museum, the architecture is beautiful and allows for a peek into Spanish history. 
 
MoMA, NYC
MoMA NYC and its famous pieces are on virtual display. One of my favorite paintings, VanGogh’s Starry Night, is on display in all its glory. 

MFAH

Experience the MFAH online through recordings, film screenings and more. Pictured: The Upper Level of the Audrey Jones Beck Building. (Photo: Allyson Huntsman, Courtesy of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston)

Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston
Our very own hometown museum is offering a virtual experience with art collections and selected exhibitions, film screenings, recorded lectures and artist talks available on their site and through Google Arts and Culture. How lucky are we!? And how lucky is the rest of the internet that they get to partake in our art!
 
The Met, NYC
A virtual tour doesn’t have the same effect as sitting on the front steps of the Met Gossip Girl-style before a trip inside NYC’s most talked-about museum, but new technology is trying to help with that. Check out the Met’s 360 degree videos of various wings of the museum, featuring birds-eye views. 
 
The Natural History Museum, London  
Feeling more in the mood for historical artifacts rather than fine art? Roam the virtual halls of the National History Museum in London, where you can see dinosaur bones, the dodo bird, and other important artifacts. 
 
Musei Vaticani, Vatican City    
The center of the Catholic Church, the Vatican features art wonders of the world, including the beautiful Sistine Chapel, painted by Michaelangelo. Visitors aren’t allowed to take pictures of the Sistine Chapel ceiling in person, but this virtual tour allows you to do the next best thing!
 
Palace of Versailles, Paris  
While not technically a museum, Versailles is a museum in its own right. Known as one of the most grandiose palaces in the world, it rivals all other fascinating things you may see in a museum. Feast your eyes!

The Menil, Houston  
Another hometown (and worldwide) favorite - The Menil Collection. The parks surrounding the Menil and the Drawing Institute are still open (remember the 6 foot rule!), but the buildings themselves are closed. Good thing we can still see many of the works online

Editor's note: See Haley's list of virtual concerts here

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