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The 7 Best Virtual Museums You Can Tour Without Leaving Home

Saikat Basu Updated 21-04-2020

A field trip to a museum was one of the necessary educational activities while growing up. I think it still is. The only difference is that now students (and everyone else) have the option of going on virtual museum tours too, all from the comfort of a browser.

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A virtual museum tour opens up so many doors to immerse yourself in the culture of history of the world. You can go to places you wouldn’t even dream of in your real life.

For instance, a virtual field trip to the Louvre may not be the real thing. But it’s just as educational and also gives you a preview of what to expect when you do take a trip to France.

So, take these seven virtual tours of museums in your pajamas today.

1. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

National Museum of Natural History

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is part of the largest museum complex in the world run by the Smithsonian Institution and is also the most popular.

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Even the real tour will take you through a complex of 19 museums and research centers. For a lot of us, it has to be on the “places to visit in our lifetime” bucket list.

Thanks to the virtual tour, you can take your time and visit each of the exhibits in this immense maze even when they shut their doors for some reason.

You won’t get the exact feel of standing in front of a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil, but you can enjoy the virtual exhibitions optimized for digital audiences.

Enter the rotunda and go for the comprehensive self-guided, room-by-room walking tour of the whole museum. Directional arrows and a few controls help to guide you around the exhibits. You can directly go to a spot by using the map.

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If you see an icon of a camera, clicking on it displays the exhibit in close-up. Make sure your internet connection is fast enough before you start the virtual tour.

2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met is one of the most famous museums in the world and a New York landmark. It hosts a collection of paintings and sculptures that spans 5000 years of our civilisation.

The largest museum in the U.S. comprises artworks from Vincent van Gogh, Monet, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Vermeer, and more modern artists like Georgia O’Keeffe and Jackson Pollock.

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It’s impossible to see everything in one visit. So, the Met virtual tour organized into different sections helps a lot. Explore different parts of the museums through their Met 360° Project and watch slideshows of curated collections under MetCollects.

The museum also hosts a lot of virtual events you can join in from any part of the world. These include storytelling sessions, art making programs, and live performances too.

3. British Museum

A virtual tour of the British Museum

If you thought that Smithsonian is huge, then you would be amazed to know that the British Museum is the world’s largest indoor space on Google Street View. This factoid should be enough to make you virtually explore the galleries of this famed museum.

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There are eleven ways to explore the British Museum even when it is closed. Along with Google Street View, you will also find it on the Google Arts & Culture website.

Whichever route you choose, keep this Collection Guide bookmarked for search tips. Watch the Museum of the World to see the wonderful pairing of data visualization and history.

Otherwise, start at the massive dome of the museum called the Great Court. It is the largest covered public space in Europe with its spectacular glass and steel roof—made from 3,212 unique panes of glass.

4. Louvre

Take a virtual tip through Louvre

The Louvre ranks among the world’s largest and is also one of the best as a pure art museum. The virtual tours of the museum come in snippets which cover different sections of the museum.

But start your virtual field trip of the Louvre from the outside. Take in the architectural splendor and then go into the different departments housing the art objects. There are four virtual tours right now, but they are immersive.

For instance, try the Egyptian Antiquities section. The tiny annoyance is that some of the virtual tours still run on Flash.

On the other hand, if you have a VR glass or even Google Cardboard, you can download the Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass app and enjoy the exemplary retrospective of Leonardo da Vinci’s career in virtual reality.

5. The Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum virtual tour

From paintings and sculptures to gigantic frescoes, The Vatican Museum is an art connoisseur’s delight. The homepage includes several collections you can view online if you haven’t yet managed a trip to the Vatican City.

The 360 degree virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel will show you what you are missing. There are six more 360-degree walkthroughs you can explore with the click of a mouse. Don’t miss a virtual trip through Raphael’s Room too.

The vaulted ceilings, intricate frescoes, and the high Renaissance art will make you wonder at the genius of Michelangelo and Raphael among other artists of that time.

6. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao virtual tour

The museum was the centerpiece of a Dan Brown novel. The structure itself is an work of art in itself. The entire building is a Frank Gehry masterpiece made entirely out of titanium and steel.

The site has all the descriptions of the different exhibits. Head to the Google Arts & Culture site for full interactive virtual tour of the Guggenheim.

The major part of your virtual trip will be consumed by the architectural icon itself. With that done, you can head into the collections of modern and contemporary art most of which are from the post-war era.

7. National Museum Australia

National Museum Australia

The museum located in Canberra promotes Australia’s unique culture through events. exhibitions, and different collections. You can explore the exhibits on the site or go to Google Arts & Culture website.

The Stories Explorer is of special interest if you like to know more about the Australian continent’s history.

If you have kids at home, then the special DIY crafts page on the museum’s website should be worth a visit. Making a dragon puppet or a Roman soldier’s helmet or any other art games for kids should help to keep them occupied.

Use Virtual Tours to Learn More About the World

That’s not all. Almost every big museum has taken its collection online or has allowed Google Arts & Culture to host it.

Most virtual tours are designed for the purpose of tourism. But thanks to advances in augmented reality, they help us experience wonders we couldn’t have obtained in one lifetime.

And it doesn’t have to end with museums. Don’t miss these virtual outdoors tours 5 Outdoor Virtual Tours to Get Back to Nature With Hikes, Dives, and Spelunking Feeling cooped up and missing being out in nature? Take a step towards them with virtual hike websites and natural tourism apps. Read More or fantastic virtual travel experiences from the comfort your living room. Add virtual museum tours to your options for entertaining yourself Lockdown Entertainment for Families Don't know how to entertain yourself or your family in lockdown? We've got some great ideas to keep your kids fit and learning. Read More when you are feeling stuck inside the house.

Explore more about: Education Technology, Virtual Tours, Virtual World.

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  1. Saikat Basu
    January 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Here are a few -

    http://corporate.honda.com/ame...
    http://www.porsche.com/interna...

    Is there any specific reason for these tours?

  2. Diane18702
    January 10, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Do you have any info on virtual tours of factories or businesses?

  3. Josain Zsun
    December 24, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    FWIW: Second Life has many virtual museums, art galleries, educational, scientific & ecological builds.

  4. Aibek
    December 22, 2010 at 10:56 am

    hey Saikat, thank for the post.

    I had no idea that Louvre had a virtual tour of the museum. Awesome.

    Aibek

    • Saikat Basu
      December 22, 2010 at 2:39 pm

      Thanks, Aibek. We are going from virtual to immersive experiences thanks to virtual reality and 3D headsets. The future is going to be mind-boggling for sure.

      • pastol
        December 24, 2010 at 3:51 pm

        No doubt Saikat, but think about it, the future is now. Pretty amazing stuff that we take for granted today. It boggles my mind when I stop and think about it. I'm at the Louvre, browsing at my own pace, my butt firmly planted in a chair in small town Illinois. WOW!

    • RichInSydney
      December 25, 2010 at 11:16 am

      The Louvre also offers a free app foe the iPhone - also very good.

  5. Aibek
    December 22, 2010 at 11:56 am

    hey Saikat, thank for the post.

    I had no idea that Louvre had a virtual tour of the museum. Awesome.

    Aibek