When it's easy to visit a museum or gallery in person, it's easy to forget that many of these organizations have a whole virtual portal online to their collections.
Now is the perfect time to dig into some of these digital collections and hear directly from curators on artworks or artists, watch time-lapses of exhibit installations (one of my favorites), and think about what items you'd want to put on your must-see list for next time you visit in person.
There are several articles floating around about these virtual museums, so I've rounded up what I think are some of the best below. If this really pique's your interest — Google's Arts & Culture website and app is filled with articles, 360 interior views, and deep-dives into specific artworks. Download directly to your phone from your app store.
Rijksmuseum — Amsterdam
This museum is just as impressive in real life as it is online. In fact, I'm really excited to have found their amazing digital platforms because of how interactive and broad they are, which is exactly why they top the list. From interactive viewers of what seems to be the majority of their collection, to the ability to "create" your own curated selection of favorites or even your own tour, the museum's site is perfection for providing an experience that you'd assume can only be done in person. (I also easily found all of their virtual resources from the main website). Check it all out here!
British Museum — London
Second on this list is the British Museum, primarily because of their "British Museum with Google" platform. This interactive website enables you to scroll to a certain time period in history and select across geographic regions to learn about the artifacts they have in their collection from that period and location. A great resource that you could easily lose track of time in as it shows how items across time and region are connected through history. Learn more.
Van Gogh — Amsterdam
With 360stories.com, the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam has created something truly unique. Starting outside the museum, you are led through a literal virtual tour — painting by painting, learning about Van Gogh as you work your way through the museum. A truly enchanting experience that is an excellent substitute for not going in person. "Walk" through the museum here.
National Gallery — DC
Open the National Gallery's page and you'll immediately find their digital resources for exploring online. Whether you want to learn more about their exhibitions, hear from contemporary artists about their process, my favorite part is the "Online Editions." In this section of the website, you can select from a few editions, such as, Alfred Stieglitz or Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. These offer deep-dives into these artists or eras and are practically your own personal lecture! National Gallery's main site.
Guggenheim — NYC
The Guggenheim's main page offers a variety of options for online engagement — the building's history, recent features on their blog, and a serendipitously suggested "collection highlight". If you dig further you'll find their time lapse videos of installations, profiles on artists, exhibition features, and so much more! Visit the beautiful world of the Guggenheim here.
J. Paul Getty Museum — LA
Scroll down on the Getty's main page and you'll find a resource specifically for exploring the collection while the museum is closed. With a whole blog post dedicated to avenues for online exploration, visiting the Getty digitally should be at the top of your list. Their Youtube page shares a close look at materials, "how-to" videos for creating the types of items in their collection, musical performances, exhibition talks, and so much more!
No matter where you are in the world, there is so much available to us online. Search for your own local museum and see what digital resources they have. Several institutions are sharing 'tours' on Instagram both in their feeds and on stories, and so many organizations have amazing videos on Youtube that are sure to keep you entertained from afar!