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Enjoy Culture from the Comfort of your Own Home: Online Museum Tours

British Museum

Shona Clelland, cultural venues development manager for Assembly Rooms Edinburgh

The effects of social distancing have left many like us feeling a little lost without their usual dose of culture – whether that be their weekly choir practice, a weekend visit to the museum or planning a trip to see the latest stage show. Luckily, with so many talented people in the arts community coming together, there's more than one way to stave off boredom. So instead of binging the best of what Netflix has to offer for the second time, it's time to experience the arts from indoors.

Online Museum Tours

Many of the world’s most iconic locations are now offering virtual tours, meaning you can visit museums, world heritage sites and other attractions from the comfort of your couch. You don’t need a VR headset either, although if that’s your thing some attractions do support virtual reality for a more immersive experience.

Some of our favourite tours include:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York – https://www.metmuseum.org/art/online-features/met-360-project

With the Met Gala red carpet on many people’s ‘must watch’ list each spring, disappointment spread with the news that this year’s event has had to be postponed. But at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you can still have a peak at The Costume Institute which is one of 26 online exhibits. What’s more, as part of its 360° Project, a series of six short videos invites viewers around the world to virtually visit The Met's art and architecture in a fresh, immersive way. Created using spherical technology, it allows viewers to explore some of the Museum's iconic spaces as never before. Gain unrivalled access and experience the magic of ‘standing’ in an empty gallery after-hours, witnessing a bustling space in time-lapse, or floating high above The Met Cloisters for a bird's-eye view. 

The Vatican Museum, Rome - www.museivaticani.va/content/museivaticani/en/collezioni/musei/tour-virtuali-elenco.html

Filled with spectacular architecture and historic monuments, The Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica, and Raphael's Room are just some of the sites you can see on the Vatican's virtual tour. The tour is compatible with WebVR meaning you can pop on a VR headset to get an even closer look at some of mankind’s most memorable creations. It’s truly breathtaking - even when viewed through a screen.  

The Louvre, Paris - https://www.louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne

The world's largest art museum has created a selection of free virtual tours based on its permanent collections. Explore Egyptian antiquities, the Remains of the Louvre’s Moat and the decorative arts of the Galerie d’Apollon. The tour is easy to navigate, with an expandable ‘mini-map’ that lets you highlight exhibits to view with just a couple of clicks.

British Museum, London – https://britishmuseum.withgoogle.com/

Home to remarkable collections that span over two million years of human history and culture, The British Museum has nearly 50 online exhibits to view. From The Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies to exploring the history of LGBTQ, there’s plenty of informative content to delve into. What we particularly like about this virtual tour is you can browse through a large selection of exhibits that are dated by century, continent and category – such as trade and conflict or art and design.

National Museum of Scotland - https://www.nms.ac.uk/streetview

Or for something a little closer to home, don’t forget The National Museum of Scotland was the first museum or gallery in Scotland to become available for exploration online via Google Arts & Culture’s Museum View experience. The Museum’s galleries have been captured digitally to make its cultural and historical material accessible online so you can move through the permanent galleries at the click of a button. So take a stroll around the museum and explore themes including Scotland’s early silver and the archive of fashion designer Jean Muir.

So if you’re looking for something new to occupy your time, we suggest pausing your 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle to check out the latest online culture services. Whether you plan on "walking" through some of the world's most prestigious cultural institutions, sitting down to screen a broadway production or practising your harmonies for a place in your new online choir (provided you haven’t worn out your voice from the virtual Disney rollercoaster rides www.youtube.com/channel/UCYyJUEtYv-ZW7BgjhP3UbTg) simply grab your laptop, tablet or phone, and join in on a world tour filled with arts, history and fun from your front room.