Ten tours of online museums, galleries and monuments that will help you virtually get out of the house

Whether or not you are currently locked out, many of the world’s most exciting and wonderful attractions are currently off-limits. Fortunately – in these times of self-isolation, social distancing and closed borders – many museums, galleries and monuments around the world offer virtual tours.

Want to browse the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria? See the Smithsonian dinosaur fossils? Discover the Sistine Chapel? It’s just as easy by clicking a few buttons. Whether you fancy exploring Japan’s bright digital art museum or viewing cute creatures in a zoo, you can spend a night – or a day – at a museum, gallery, or other place of cultural significance in the comfort of your sofa.

Here are ten highlights to get you started – and if you like others, Google Arts and Culture will point you towards even more.

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Nothing really compares to visiting the Louvre and standing in front of the Mona Lisa yourself, your eyes roaming the enigmatic smile of the work painted by Leonardo da Vinci. Now, for the first time, the Parisian place allows you to live it virtually with a Mona Lisa VR experience. If you’re equipped with a next-level VR setup, you can explore many of the gallery’s exhibits online. Via sound virtual options, stroll through exhibitions exploring the relationship between art and political power, Renaissance works of art and myths told through art.

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If you missed Van Gogh Alive’s first round of Australian exhibitions, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is home to the largest collection of the artist’s work in the world, including over 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 750 letters. It’s a large table, which you can look at yourself via Virtual tour of Google Arts & Culture. Yes, Sunflowers is one of them, although there is much inimitable art also on display in his other still lifes, landscapes and other painted scenes. Move at your own pace, then zoom in to see details and read the accompanying descriptive plaques. And if you want to get a glimpse first, you can check out the museum YouTube visit also.

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The word ‘immersive’ is used too often these days, but if anywhere deserves the term, it’s TeamLab’s borderless digital art museum. Sprawled out in a Tokyo warehouse, this eye-catching place fills every available surface with moving, shifting and interactive artwork – so you can watch the flowers bloom on the floor, walls and ceiling; then sit back and watch the ocean waves crash across a room; then walk through the illuminated water lilies. Or, thanks to its wide range of Youtube videos, you can get a taste of her vibrant installations right from your home. TeamLab’s online archive also includes documents from its many other exhibits beyond the borders of its Tokyo base, and while each is only a minute or two long, there is plenty to choose from. Also make sure your sound is on.

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As you experience a historic global event, why not spend some time exploring the natural history of the planet? That’s what the Smithsonian is all about, with over 145 million specimens and artifacts in its collections. And while you can’t see them all in her online visit, you can virtually browse its current, previous and permanent views. It means dinosaurs, of course. Watching the spikes of a Stegosaurus or the face of a Tyrannosaurus Rex is always so impressive when you do it through your phone or computer. It also means everything from butterflies and bones to gems and the origins of mankind – and, if that’s not too dark for you right now, there’s also an exhibit dedicated to epidemics, epidemics and the spread of disease.

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Perhaps you are a Melburnian who wanted to visit the current major exhibitions of the National Gallery of Victoria. You may live elsewhere, but you’ve taken a trip to the Victorian capital in the future, including the NGV. With the gallery currently closed, this is obviously irrelevant; However, you can still take a peek at last year’s blockbuster. Triennial, the Tiwi Islands off Darwin and Japanese modernism. Head to the new NGV channel, where curatorial tours are added to the online library on an ongoing basis. A whopping 75,000 pieces of the CNG collection are also available, so you will really feel like you are there.

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Sturm via Wikimedia Commons


Think you know what all museums and art galleries look like in general terms? Think again. The Museu de Arte de São Paulo, or MASP, doesn’t just put its many works of art on its walls. Instead, he places them on sheets of crystal anchored by concrete blocks, in a design meant to mimic an artist’s easel, then spreads them out in large cavernous rooms. It makes looking at the site’s paintings, sculptures, photographs, and other items a whole different experience, even when you’re doing it online. If you take the tour via the Google Arts and Culture for iOS or Android, you can also explore a VR component to really feel like you’re there.

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Jean-Christophe Benoist via Wikimedia Commons


The Sistine Chapel has as many breathtaking works of art as any other gallery or museum. More than some, in fact. And, via the Vatican Online Tour, you can walk it for as long as you want – and admire the immense detail in Michelangelo’s wall-to-wall frescoes, of course – with no crowds or time limits. These pieces have sparkled for more than five centuries and, as everyone knows, they make quite a spectacle. Once you are done browsing, scrolling and zooming, you can also explore other Vatican Museums, Wings and Chapels thanks to the rest of its virtual offers. If you are not only fond of art and sculpture, but also architecture, then prepare to be in your element.

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When it comes to visiting the Sydney Opera House without visiting it physically, there are several viewing options available online. Take the 360 degree tour, and you can walk through Australia’s most iconic monument at your own pace – and also discover a number of exhibitions online. You can watch the YouTube video tour accompanied by a soundtrack that usually resonates in opera houses, or broadcast a range of concerts and lectures on its new streaming service. No matter how you explore, you’ll see the place like you’ve never seen it before, which is one of the joys of going virtual. You can’t look around every nook and cranny while you’re at it, but, via remote means, who is going to stop you?

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Who doesn’t want to be locked in a castle now? Dating back to 1210 originally and 1446 in its present form, Irish Castle at Blarney is among the best of them – and, as the name suggests, it is home to a very famous attraction. Sitting atop its tower, the Blarney Stone is believed to endow anyone who embraces it with the gift of eloquence. You can’t virtually lock your lips with it, of course, but maybe looking at the site in general will do the same? On the castle online visit, you’ll also explore its stony interiors and sprawling gardens (and you’ll probably feel like you’ve fallen into an episode of Game Of Thrones).

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Sometimes it’s enough to watch adorable animals go about their business. In fact, as the endless stream of cat and dog videos on the internet shows, there’s never a bad time to lock your peepers on a cute creature. Absolutely everyone feels that way, because of course it does – that’s where Live webcams from the San Diego Zoo, who scan several animal enclosures throughout the day, enter. Watch majestic elephants swinging their trunks, watch African penguins frolic and see polar bears dozing merrily. You can also catch monkeys and baboons for your monkey fix, see condors flying, and get a fix of big cats in the tiger enclosure. Oh, and if you want to spend some time watching an Australian animal, there’s a koala camera as well.

Posted on July 26, 2021 by

Sarah ward

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