How to ‘visit’ museums from the comfort of your own home

Don’t worry I’m not going to bang on about COVID-19 because no one needs more of that!

But, if we do end up at home for long periods of time or even if we don’t, I wanted to let you know that you can still experience culture, art, museums and much more from your sofa at home!

Here’s my top ways to experience international museums from the comfort of your own home…via the internet of course!

1. Discover Google Arts & Culture

Explore culture, historic heritage and iconic locations through 3D technology, digitally preserved sites and collections that you can download.

This is one seriously cool website.

So far, 54 sites have been documented and Google are working hard to thoroughly, methodically and meticulously categorise the many elements of each site.

Places from the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC to Mexico’s Palace of Fine Arts have been documented. The sites are a carefully curated selection that’s being expanded all the time.

I’ve already lost a lot of time in the incredible details that’s been preserved and if you haven’t discovered this resource yet. You can definitely quench some of your wanderlust with this amazing website.

Don’t forget to check out the Google Street View Tours, which give the feeling you’re actually wandering the halls of places like…

2. The British Museum, England

View the collection in a magical looking time line offering an interactive experience. In this virtual tour, there’s audio, imagery, maps and more explaining different parts of history based on the location, time period or topic.

It takes a little getting used to, but it’s actually a lovely way of exploring a collection and being able to focus on the bits of the collection you like the most.

3. The Louvre Museum, Paris

Virtual tours and room description’s of Paris’ favourite palace! All the best bits without those INSANE queues, count me in!

Get yourself some brie, wine and some patisserie and then you can eat cheese and drink wine, while taking in the finest French and international art without getting out of your pyjamas!

4. NASA, Washington

While I knew about the previous art galleries and cultural sites I did not know you could do this for certain NASA sites! Can you believe? This is so cool!

I definitely didn’t add another hour on to writing this post because I fell down ‘NASA rabbit hole ‘visiting’ the Langley Research Center in Virginia and Ohio’s Glenn Research Center.

If you prefer browsing on your phone, of course there’s an app that too! The Space Centre Houston app is full of videos, stories, virtual tours and augmented reality experiences. And, you don’t even have to open up your laptop or sit at your computer!

5. The Smithsonian, New York

Tour past exhibits no longer on display and tour current exhibitions, as well as accessing research, collections and exclusive unseen archive content.

I mean, we all know The Smithsonian absolutely smashes everything is does and this is yet another thing it excels at. It’s an American institution in the heart of Washington DC and now you can access it while scrolling through Netflix. WIN. Joking, actually I’m not, that’s the beauty of it.

The online offering makes historic content accessible to people who may not be interested in every bit of the detail.

It lets these people dip into the bits they like the best and pay lots of attention to the information or peruse it while watching tv or doing something else. We all want to access museum content differently and this is the way to do it.

6. The Met, New York

I love, love, LOVE the ‘Online Features’ of The Met.

It is truly one of the online museum giants. I really respect its approach and execution to putting its collections online and making it really accessible to as many people as possible.

Not only does it allow you excellent access to the collection but, also The Met’s 360 virtual tour videos, so you can watch your way around the museum. This is just one way, of many, that The Met encourages you to engage with its collections.

The online video section is HUGE!

The videos really show off the diverse range of the collections, while offering insight into how the museum, curation and conservations works.

Here’s some ace videos from The Met to start watching…

The Met’s Audio Guides have also been put online which are great for putting on in the background at work or to feel very grown up at home. Pour a gin or a glass of wine and learn about collections without the cost of the plane ticket. Adulting – nailed it!

Don’t get me wrong, nothing beats the real thing. But, if you can’t go for whatever reason, this is a fantastic way to experience culture and art.

For people who are partially sighted or blind this is an excellent resource which allows them to access this museum’s collection content directly from home.

Oh and The Met’s blog section is of course amazing too, it has plenty of interesting reads to keep you occupied for hours on end.

In fact there are videos, blogs and audio guide content for all ages, even kids.

Can you tell how much I love it? I think you can, I’ll stop now. Promise.

7. The Vatican, Rome

Well I know what you’ll want to know straight away. Yes you can see Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel.

Popes like their art and have collected a vast amount of it over the years.

The Vatican Museums’ virtual tour provides a good look around at the architecturally impressive buildings, art and sculptures.

8. The Salvador Dalí Theatre, Spain

See the stunning artwork of Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dalí with a virtual tour of The Salvador Dalí’s Theatre in Catalonia.

The museum shows off the life’s work of the eccentric character who undeniably left his mark on the art work thanks to his exquisite skill and outrageous behaviour.

And, more creepily, apparently Dalí is buried there. It’s a bit weird but is in keeping with the quirky side of the artist.

9. Victoria & Albert Museum, England

A personal favourite, my love for the V&A stems from many, many trips to the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood as a kid.

As an adult the central London V&A captured my attention with the Alexander McQueen exhibition that paved the way for its much larger exhibitions and more recently its Dior exhibition at the museum.

The V&A has just had an interesting TV show called ‘Secrets of the Museum’ air on BBC2, you can find snippets, insights and video in that link to the blog.

It’s just one of the interesting ways you can see what life at the museum is like without actually visiting.

Although in comparison to some of its peers, there’s less of the virtual tour type content but the V&A has a wonderful YouTube channel, access to collections, the V&A blog and social presence.

Search the V&A collections, it’s mind-boggling big, and you’ll always find something new because it has over 1,235,990 objects and 827,745 images in its bank – you can easily lose yourself in this vast online record of the museum’s assets.

10. English Heritage, UK

English Heritage is a collection of historic places across the UK, and it has a sensational historic YouTube channel.

I have to draw your eye to the series ‘The Victorian Way’ with stand out star of the show, Mrs Crocombe who gives cooking and recipe tutorials about how to cook things the Victorian way.

She’s even got her own cookery book and the videos are a completely different way for an organisation like this that specifies in historic building to engage with its audience.

While other places have virtual tours and fit a formula, English Heritage break free and make its own rules on what kind of content an organisation of its stature wants to produce (FYI, English Heritage is a British institution for those of you not in the know!).

Things to do at home

Fingers crossed this has given you a bit of inspiration for those times when the internet is your only ticket to visiting museums. It’s probably given you a list of places to actually visit too!

Happy exploring!

5 thoughts on “How to ‘visit’ museums from the comfort of your own home

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