We travel for different reasons; some for food, some for outdoor adventure, and some travel to experience the world's artistic and cultural legacies in museums and galleries. If you're one of the latter, the Coronavirus epidemic along with the travel bans and the temporary closures of hallowed art institutions came as a huge blow.
However, there's a sliver of good news: Google has made it possible for museum-goers and just about anyone interested in arts and culture to visit many of the world's most celebrated museums through their Google's Art and Culture collection. In addition, some museums also have their own online/virtual tour feature integrated into their respective website.
This list of our most recommended museum virtual tours can serve as a reminder that when things get better in the world, the masterpieces will be there, waiting for our visit.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Boasting a collection of more than two million items, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere. Its extensive collection ranges from ancient Egyptian artefacts, luminous works of Vermeer, Rembrandt and Botticelli, to its celebrated piece Adam and Eve by Albrecht Dürer.
The Uffizi Gallery, Florence
When we talk about the Uffizi Gallery, the word "gallery" may just be a misnomer as it houses the most exquisite collection of paintings from the Renaissance era. You'll find all the biggest names of Italian art here, and some paintings extending to the baroque era. May we recommend The Birth of Venus by Botticelli as a start to your virtual tour of the gallery.
The Netherlands' premier museum houses some 900,000 (and counting) items. The Rijksmuseum is world-renowned for housing and displaying the works of Johannes Vermeer, Ruysdael and most notably, Rembrandt van Rijn. For a masterclass in light manipulation, please do check out Rembrandt's The Night Watch.
Le Louvre, Paris
Originally a palace/fortress for the kings of France, the Louvre is now a resilient stronghold of art and culture of the highest order. Its charges are some of the world's most well-known works of art, namely Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and Winged Victory of Samothrace. The Louvre also safeguards artefacts and objects of ancient Egyptian and medieval origins in its keep.
The Acropolis Museum, Athens
The Acropolis is as much a museum as it is an archaeological excavation site. The transparent glass floor allows visitors to observe the excavation site and provides insight on how the ancient Athenians once lived their lives under the shadow of the Acropolis. While many are understandably drawn to the Parthenon, we find the painted clay tablet dubbed "Dedication to Nymphe, protectress of marriage" somewhat alluring.
The British Museum, London
The British Museum houses a variety of relics and artefacts originating from diverse cultures spanning the four corners of the globe, properly housed and maintained. Visitors are teleported across time and space upon viewing the various paintings, sculptures, statues and other types of artwork. The Egyptian and Greek galleries are arguably the most popular as visitors flock at these two galleries by the hundreds.
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
The Smithsonian Institution is actually comprised of 19 museums, a zoological park and several research facilities. The most prolific theme of the museums is inevitably American history, with items such as the original Star-Spangled Banner, the First Ladies collection of dresses and even the Apollo 11 command module are up for display.
State Hermitage, St. Petersburg
The State Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg dedicates some 120 rooms spanning four buildings to exhibiting the masterpieces of van Gogh, Cezanne, Picasso, da Vinci and even Rembrandt. While these western Europeans masterpieces are undoubtedly inspiring, collections belonging to the Treasure Gallery's Gold Rooms are particularly captivating.
Musee d'Orsay, Paris
The charming museum of Musee d'Orsay is essentially the polar opposite of the majestic Louvre in terms of the architectural style being employed. Focal point wise, the Musee d'Orsay leans toward the Impressionist period, which inevitably covers the artistic works of Renoir, Monet, van Gogh and Cezanne. Olympia by Édouard Manet is particularly striking due to the controversies surrounding it.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
As its namesake suggests, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is a museum dedicated to modern art. Its vast and varied collection includes contemporary art, sculptures, photographs, designs and even performance art. Be that as it may, one of the museum's most celebrated exhibits is none other than Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night.
Bonus: The Metropolitan Opera, New York
In addition to virtually touring the museums, starting from March 16 you can opt to catch the Metropolitan Opera as they stream virtual performances for absolutely free. The opera company free opera streams will feature some of their most acclaimed shows in HD in a bid to provide some solace for opera lovers in these challenging times. Head over to their official website for the complete schedule and listings.
Art is the highest form of hope
Should you feel inspired or enlightened by what the human creativity and expression are able to conjure, perhaps now is indeed the best time for you to start planning your next visit to the museum with your loved ones; a journey for a time when things have considerably improved.
German painter Gerhard Richter associates art with human optimism, stating that art is the perfect medium for solace and comfort. So while it is understandable to feel discouraged, sad or even fearful in light of recent events, let the art inspire and instil hope within you and your loved ones.
Ultimately, art teaches us that no matter how bad the current situation may seem, trust that this too shall pass.
This article was first published in Wego.