The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Musée d’Orsay, British Museum and over a thousand other museums can now be explored online for free. Providing sweeping access to institutions all over the world, Google Arts and Culture has partnered with cultural organizations to host virtual tours of museums and other landmark sites.
A handful of New York institutions made the cut, with the Guggenheim Museum, American Museum of Natural History and the Frick offering the option to take a 360-degree tour the gallery spaces via Google Street View. Other museums, like MoMA, have put select collections and exhibitions online, providing an inside look into the artwork and the surrounding historical context.
The Google platform also features a peek into past exhibitions no longer on view and smaller institutions, like the Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame. Additionally, those who would like to explore outdoor sites are in luck; the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Colosseum in Rome, Italy are also among the digital holdings.
To start your journey through the archives, here are five top museums that offer virtual tours right now.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art stretches across three sites: Met Fifth Avenue, the Met Breuer and the Met Cloisters. Together, the museums contain a trove of rare objects and art. Virtual visitors can tour the Met’s flagship 5th Ave. location and the Met Breuer with the Google Street View function. Additionally, the museum offers several online exhibitions, such as “Coco Chanel: Modernism,” “A New Look at Vermeer” and “The Art of Music Through Time.”
Housed in the Orsay railway station (originally built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900), the Musée d’Orsay of Paris is imbued with a sense of grandeur. Virtual visitors can explore the museum’s unique architecture, in addition to getting an up-close look at Van Gogh’s self-portrait and the artist’s famous painting “Bedroom in Aries.”
Fancy more Van Gogh? The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles houses the artist’s “Irises,” painted while Van Gogh was in an asylum in Saint-Rémy, France. The work’s first owner, French art critic Octave Mirbeau, said of the piece: “How well he [Van Gogh] has understood the exquisite nature of flowers!” The painting, among many other works, is available to see via the museum’s Street View of the galleries.
One of Italy’s most visited museums, the history of the Uffizi Gallery reaches back to 1560, when Giorgio Vasari designed the building for Cosimo I de’Medici in order to house the Florentine magistrates. Now, the museum in Florence holds a sweeping collection of priceless works from the Italian Renaissance period and beyond. Among the pieces available to see on the virtual tour is Tiziano Vecellio’s “Venus of Urbino” and Sandro Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus.”
Spanning over two million years of human history, the British Museum’s collection contains treasures such as Egyptian mummies and the Rosetta Stone. In addition to its comprehensive holdings, the museum also claims the title of the “first national public museum of the world.”
Top Image: Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Photo: Daniel Vorndran.