10 art galleries and museums you can still visit… virtually: By Paul Johnson on April 25, 2020 in Asia, Attractions, Brazil, Croatia, Eastern Europe, Europe, Featured, Going out, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, North America, Pennsylvania, Regions, South America, Taiwan , United Kingdom, United States, Vatican City, Virginia, Western Europe, worldwide
As Thomas Merton, famous American writer, poet and Trappist monk once said: “Art allows us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time”.
There has never been a better time to get lost in art, to admire and recognize perspectives different from ours. Be impressed by the talent of another, whether past, present, traditional or avant-garde. To become absorbed by color, shape and form. In today’s digital age, we don’t have to travel to London, Spain or Washington DC to appreciate the masterpieces and showrooms of the world. The art world, literally, can come to us. No aggressive tourists wielding a camera, no partial glimpses of the Mona Lisa, no timed tickets and no time limits.
10 art galleries and museums you can still visit
The first museums started as private collections of wealthy families or individuals, and some of the first public museums were accessible only to the middle and upper classes. It was feared that the crowd would damage the paintings and the exhibits. Some museums have gone so far as to require that customers be admitted only after asking permission in writing.
Fortunately, things have changed. Museums have rocked their stuffy and sterile environments for more open, interactive and friendly environments. In doing so, they attracted an increasingly large and young clientele. All of this is good news for the museum industry, which needs the support of current generations to survive.
Many exhibitions and exhibitions cross generational boundaries, some museums focus on current and sensitive issues. By exploring a museum, we can learn how the past can directly influence the present. Many museums have become powerful educational tools and offer programs for preschoolers, up to seniors. Museums, simply stated, are important.
Emphasizing the importance of museums and galleries, virtual and online collections are becoming increasingly popular throughout the current pandemic. Some are launching deeper and richer content in light of this. Some have created home programs, “masterpiece” coloring books for kids, and virtual reality walks through exhibits.
A study by the Harris Group has highlighted another reason why museum visits, whether virtual or in person, are so essential to our well-being. They discovered that 72% of millennials preferred to spend money on experiments rather than on material things. It has been said that if material things give us an instant boost of pleasure, the happiness that comes from experience is more lasting and generally more rewarding.
People visit museums for many reasons. From stress relief to learning about other cultures, to expanding their knowledge, and yes, even to escape reality. The new standard dictates, for now, that we have to see art and visit museums differently. We can take this as a chance to get closer and become more personal with art. We can appreciate the opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal, the Vatican, and the street art of Banksy in the space of a day. Time travel at its best.
Here are ten remarkable museums and galleries that deserve a virtual “visit”. From traditional to quirky, from the pre-war to the ultra-modern. All, however, are perfectly suited to transport you to a place where you can get lost or find yourself.
Sao Paulo Art Museum
A private non-profit museum founded in 1947 by a wealthy businessman, the Museum of Art Sao Paulo is the first modern museum in Brazil. The first MASP works were organized by an Italian art dealer, Pietro Maria Bardi and quickly became the largest collection of European art in the southern hemisphere, with more than 8,000 works of art, sculptures and textiles. . Some of the most notable pieces in museums include works from Asian and African cultures, such as a sculpture of the African deity Exu. Naturally, the collection also includes South American artists, notably the famous Brazilian painters Albino Bras and Rafael Borjes de Oliveira.
The architecture of the museum, designed by Lina Bo Bardi, deserves a Google search, because it is a modern wonder of art in itself. A juxtaposition of rich red painted concrete and imposing glass, it soars dramatically above the streetscape of Sao Paulo. No wonder he was so often photographed and admired.
The virtual visit to the MASP museum, aided by the partnership of Google Arts and Culture, is remarkable. It allows the spectator to be the only patron to walk among the open and high rooms of the gallery. You can walk slowly past a Van Gogh, a Renoir or a Monet, with ease. The richly framed art floats, suspended in glass, above pale, square concrete blocks. Click on a screenshot of the gallery highlighted at the bottom of the screen for a more detailed overview of a particular work of art, along with other specific facts and information. Then do not hesitate to continue along the corridors as you wish.
Mattress factory, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
In 1975 Barbara Luderowski purchased a former warehouse for Stearns and Foster mattresses. Two years later, the Mattress Factory, a non-profit cultural and educational organization, was born. The factory quickly became a paradise for emerging artists locally, regionally and internationally. Over the years, it has grown, buying neighboring lots to allow artists in residence to exhibit their site-specific installations and their alternative forms of art and expression.
The Mattress Factory has propelled careers. In 1994, it was the first American museum to exhibit the controversial and stimulating art of British artist Damien Hirst. In 2004, the museum presented a collection of works by 10 Cuban artists who were not allowed to enter the United States to view the exhibition. A controversial moment, indeed.
Always unconventional and inventive, constantly pushing the limits and challenging traditional art, the Mattress Factory was certainly ahead of its time. Thanks to the video performance, the permanent installations and the in-house support of the artists, the Mattress Factory is the culmination of everything there is to love in art.
In light of the museum’s current closure due to COVID-19, they have put together a collection of works, in the form of YouTube videos, which highlight exhibitions by specific artists. YouTube clips take you to Yayoi Kusama’s famous “Infinity Dots and Mirrored Room” as well as to his exhibition “Repetitive Vision”. You can also get a glimpse of Allan Wexler’s “Bed Lounges for an Artist in Residence” which are both haunting and surreal.
In another series of videos, the artists express themselves in their own words, a wonderful way to learn more about the thinking process and the inspiration of the creator. A particularly interesting installation is told by artist Nathan Hall, who created piano music that is dramatically suspended in the air with strings. The space, the objects in the room and of course the music come together in harmony (pun intended).
The British Museum, London
The British Museum has certainly raised the bar when it comes to virtual exhibits and online learning. The interactive and imaginative interface of their “Museum of the World” exhibition is the dream of a graphic designer. And, without a doubt, the dream of an art historian as well. Chronological full screen imagery allows the viewer, literally and metaphorically, to connect the dots of art throughout history. The chronology covers the seven continents and several historical categories. You just need to define your criteria.
Do you want to see Asian art from 500 AD which depicts a social commentary on power and identity? Do you prefer to go back to 1300 BC in Africa to see artifacts that revolve around religion and beliefs? Perhaps you would like to see 20th century art from the deep south of the United States that reflects life and death. The possibilities are almost endless.
Click on any point of the timeline and a contextual panel will give you the opportunity to know more: a high resolution image which can be enlarged for more details, a narrated audio function (if you prefer to close your eyes and listen), art and related objects, and a Google map of the exact location of art. The stylized timeline is an integral part of the overall experience. Ethereal sound bites accompany you as you sail back in time. The World Museum experience excites and reinvigorates many senses simultaneously, and seems inherently designed to make learning about art more fun.
Rijks Museum, Amsterdam
The Netherlands Museum, Rijks Museum, includes 80 galleries and 8,000 objects covering 800 years of Dutch art history. A pretty impressive CV. The Netherlands is home to many masters, Rembrandt being highly recognizable and remarkable. The Rijks Museum has created a virtual art space for viewers that allows us to delve deeply into the art world of Rembrandt, among other famous artists.
The “Masterpieces Up Close” link creates a place where the viewer can have an intimate experience with the most important works of art in the museum and understand the artist’s intentions and processes. With its smart online platform, it makes art accessible to everyone around the world – no passport is required.
According to the museums website, “Masterpieces Up Close”, “aims to recreate the experience of leisurely browsing in a museum with a multimedia guide and 360-degree images.” As a viewer, you will walk through the gallery, zoom in on the finest details of art, listen to and discover 18 famous works of art.
The narration is engaging. No funny monotonous. It is adorned in a way that transports the listener to the historical time and place where the art was created. Timely and interesting sound effects punctuate the dialogue. It’s like having your own living docent on demand.
“Experience the Night Watch” is another spectacular link on Rijks’ website. An in-depth account that immerses the viewer so deeply in Rembrandt’s famous 17th century masterpiece, that you could easily get lost for a few hours. Discover the secrets hidden in art, symbolism and who is who in the work itself.
Museum of Broken Relationships
Having an identity crisis between a museum and a social media sharing site, the Museum of Broken Relationships is as quirky and trendy as possible. The site claims to be a “virtual public space created for the sole purpose of preserving and sharing heartbreaking stories and symbolic goods”. Originally from the capital of Croatia, Zagreb, the museum was created by Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic in 2006. In 2010, it won the prize for the most innovative and daring museum project in all of Europe. And for good reason – his collections – the moments of failed relationships, is not only daring, but funny, sad and poignant.
The site’s clean and organized layout looks more like Etsy or Pinterest than a museum. In fact, viewers are encouraged to share a story or broken item with a link only for contributions. Each art object has its own mark of grief and can be shared on Twitter or FaceBook with just one click. A pawnbroker of lost love? A way to find a company in misery? A place to find a closure, gain strength or let off steam? Wherever the Museum of Broken Relationships is, it’s anything but ordinary. Regarded as a large-scale global project, the Museum of Broken Relationships has two permanent sites in Los Angles and Zagreb, but in reality this museum exists worldwide.
National Palace Museum, Taipei
The National Palace Museum of Taiwan houses an impressive 700,000 works of art in its collection. Works range from Chinese imperial artifacts to Asian ceramics to precious jade sculptures. It houses rare books from the Ming and Qing dynasties, as well as metal works commissioned by ancient kings. In short, it is a treasure trove of Asian masterpieces.
As we cannot visit the museum by traditional methods at the moment, we can at least appreciate the well-designed graphics and the 720 degree VR tour of the National Palace Museum from the comfort of our own homes.
Within the site, you have the choice between several ways to visit the museum. Watching the 30-second time-lapse video is a good place to start, a quick snapshot of the area and the extent of the property. From there, use the drop-down menus to find out how to start your tour. Guided tours in VR allow you to select a specific part of the museum to see, a building, a floor or even a garden.
By clicking, I thought the dragon pond looked particularly intriguing. It did not disappoint. In an instant, I found myself among the stone dragons entwined in the center of the pond. The infographics are very well done and consolidate all the vital information on the works of art, the history of the land, etc. A smart card tucked in the lower right corner means you never have to worry about getting lost.
A different option is “Recommended routes”, which are pre-organized routes based on popular walks in the museum. I liked the idea of going on a treasure hunt so I chose to walk among the ancient Chinese vases and bronzes in the collection.
Benaki Museum, Athens
Created in 1930 in a magnificent mansion in downtown Athens, the Benaki museum houses Greek art from prehistory to modern times. When it comes to interactivity and virtual reality tours, it is one of the cleanest and most user-friendly platforms on the market. The interface is practically foolproof and the viewer can easily navigate the treasures of the museum, floor by floor and room by room, using a simple graphic displayed at the bottom left of the screen. In the exhibitions, small bullseyes guide your mouse through the windows filled with extraordinary pieces. Ancient ceramics from thousands of years ago, medallions and gold jewelry, portraits and paintings enhanced with gold leaf are just the tip of the Greek iceberg. Small plus signs (+) are attached to individual cases or works of art so you can hear more details about an artifact if you wish.
The audio tour is available in six languages, which makes the site even more accessible. The clean, open, soothing gray walls on the ground floor created an almost sanctuary space. Of course, having everything for me was a real advantage.
A particular piece to look for, and a highlight of the Benaki collection, is the pair of Mycenaean female figurines. They have been found in tombs and shrines across the region’s colonies and date from 1400 BC. Another highlight is the Corinthian helmet, a helmet in shiny bronze that characterizes the style of ancient Greece and the city-state of Corinth. I couldn’t help but think of Russell Crowe in Gladiator as I marveled at this incredible relic from so long ago.
NASA, Langley, Virginia
Prepare and prepare for takeoff. Here’s a chance for you, or any family member who loves space, to take a look inside the NASA Glenn Research Center, where they design and research technologies to advance NASA missions in the field of space exploration.
The main campus of the Glenn Research Center, located near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, includes wind tunnels, vacuum chambers and drop towers, among other high-tech simulators as part of their world-class facilities. NASA Glenn’s research and development of technologies will no doubt have an impact on aeronautics and air travel for years to come.
The menu bar on the left side of the screen contains several interesting links, including “Space Tech”, “Solar System and Beyond” and “Humans in Space”. However, the NASA Glenn Virtual Tours link is the real reason for visiting the site, offering fascinating content on particular aspects of this truly incredible space installation.
Have you ever wondered what it looks like inside an 8 × 6 supersonic wind tunnel? Here is your opportunity. It’s NASA’s only transonic wind tunnel. See where and how this is done via a mini time-lapse video, circle the staging area with 360-degree views, then head to the control room where all tunnel operations are performed. An in-depth look at one of the most unique areas of science and technology is on display. With ten virtual tours to choose from, including: Zero-G, a ballistic impact lab and the simulated lunar operations lab, you can turn off the lights and get lost in the space world for a few hours.
Vatican Museums, Rome, Italy
Italy is home to some of the most beautiful and popular museums in the world. In the future, their visit will be possible again. For now, we can take quiet walks in the normally crowded rooms. The Vatican Museums are probably the most visited museums in the world, certainly in Italy, with more than 5 million visitors per year. At the height of summer, the Vatican gates welcomed around 20,000 people a day. If there has ever been a time to enjoy a virtual tour, now is the time.
The collections of the Roman Catholic Church, with its 54 galleries, or sales, house the most important collections of Renaissance art in the world. The Vatican Museums have 70,000 works, of which they present about a third to the public. The museums were founded in the early sixteenth century by Pope Julius 11 when he discovered and bought a marble sculpture; Laocoön and his sons, in Rome. He brought the sculpture to the Vatican and exhibited it to the public. Hence the birth of the Vatican Museums.
The seven virtual tours of the Vatican museums are simple and straightforward, allowing the paintings and frescoes to speak for themselves. It is an oasis to visit, even from our living rooms. Introspective, in a bad mood and rich in history. You don’t need to know much about Michelangelo and the Renaissance to be moved by the work. That said, the Michelangelo ceiling frescoes in the Sistine Chapel are fascinating. Look up and zoom in as you see, the arm of God lovingly reaching Adam in the famous creation panel above.
Other virtual tours of the site include: the Niccoline Chapel, where you can see frescoes by Fra Angelico, and the Rafael rooms, where you can discover many of Rafael’s works, including the famous Athens School. All the rooms transcend in their own way and, if nothing else, makes us dream of going to Italy and seeing them in person.
Google Arts and Culture
Last on the list, but far from the least, is the overall idea of Google. Google Arts and Culture is an online platform that has a global reach, expanding access to thousands of visitors to see and discover art across the planet. Launched in 2011 with the partnership of 17 museums, including MOMA in New York, Uffizi in Florence and the Tate Gallery in London, Google Arts allows “wheelchair tourists” to get around the earth during an artistic visit. In 2012, Google expanded its platform to 151 museums in 40 countries. What a global feat!
Through virtual galleries, street views and microscope views, you can discover London’s graffiti and street art, roam Europe through the eyes of Claude Monet, explore Easter Island or make a trip to the Chauvet caves in France. Filled with educational tools for teachers and projects for children and adults, it’s a whole world that we could spend weeks or months exploring. You have free time?