Escape the boredom of quarantine and social distancing with a virtual vacation
A number of institutions seeing the continued need for art and culture in our society, have made it possible to still get some free entertainment right from the comfort of a living room in the form of virtual tours. These tours, of which there are over thirty available as of the writing of this article, range from the Louvre to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So, turn off Netflix and start planning a staycation.
The Vatican Museum’s virtual tour features an extensive collection of iconic paintings and classical sculptures. Among the highlights of the dozen or so sites listed on the Vatican’s website are Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s rooms, and St. Peter’s Basilica (a Renaissance style church located in Vatican City).
The Smithsonian, often recognized from films such as Night at the Museum, offers a high–quality, 360-degree virtual tour of the fact–filled exhibits both currently and previously on display, including eternal life in Ancient Egypt, Sea Monsters Unearthed, and the Hall of Human Origins. Zoom functions in many cases allow viewers to get up close and personal, allowing the ability to read exhibit displays and take in details that might be missed during a normal crowded in-person visit.
Visitors can travel through time at the British Museum in a variety of ways. For the not so tech savvy, the museum’s virtual gallery page allows viewers to admire more than 8,000 individual artifacts on display, including the Rosetta Stone—inscribed with a decree from ancient Egypt—and Hoa Hakananai’a—the moai statue from Easter Island. For those wanting the complete virtual experience, they can install the Google Arts and Culture App, which allows visitors to take expertly guided virtual tours of their online exhibits, complete with high–definition artwork, via Google Street View.
Similar to the British Museum, visitors can view the museum’s extensive collection, including van Gogh’s “The Starry Night,” Paul Cézanne’s “Still Life with Apples,” and Rousseau’s “The Sleeping Gypsy” on the Google Arts and Culture App. Of the museum’s 200,000 works of modern and contemporary art, nearly 85,000 pieces are viewable on the website online. For the art enthusiast, various other art museums such as the Guggenheim, and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, are also available to tour via the Google Arts and Culture App.
NASA offers free virtual tours of the Langley Research Center in Virginia as well the Glenn Research Center in Ohio. These two sites offer a combination of interactive tours of the various facilities onsite and videos narrated by experts from NASA about the function of each aspect of the research centers.
Whether people are into art history or are more of a history buff, there is a tour out there for everyone, so seize the day (albeit from a couch) and use these strange times as an opportunity to see something that otherwise wouldn’t normally be seen in person.
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