Museums are harbours of our cultural development and there are few places that allow us to come face to face with our own place in history. This season, as our movements are restricted, some of the world’s most infamous institutions are opening up their collections for virtual visitations
While the world is once again disrupted by the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant, travelling abroad continues to be a distant prospect. Though nothing can replace an actual physical trip to the museum, don’t let your mind be trapped by physical restrictions. We have rounded up five museums with virtual tours for hours of leisurely viewing, taking you from Ancient Rome and Egypt to the Renaissance and Imperial China, and further.
Louvre Museum, Paris
As the world’s most-visited museum, the Louvre offers five virtual tours for viewers worldwide to appreciate its palatial architecture and art collections inside its Petite Galerie wing. It includes From Afar: Travelling Materials and Objects – incorporating materials that were used and circulated as a manifestation of prestige along trade routes, such as ivory and carnelian, portraits of animals travelled between continents such as ostriches and giraffes.
Then there is The Advent of the Artist – depicting an individual’s transition from anonymous craftsman during Classicism to identifiable artists of the Renaissance. Power Plays shows the connection between art and power from objects for affirming authority to a vehicle for protest, and more.
The Louvre’s first virtual reality project “Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass” is also available on Apple Store and for people with VR headsets. It creates an intimate encounter with Leonardo da Vinci’s most celebrated masterpiece through an eight-minute detailed viewing of an original setting and painting process.
The British Museum, London
As the first public national museum of the world, The British Museum collects some of the most fascinating objects in human history. From the Rosetta Stone that deciphers the Egyptian scripts to mummies representing funerary beliefs and a spiritual afterlife. The Parthenon Marbles of Greece is also present to tell the tale of the birth of the goddess Athena.
You can explore more collections from prehistory to the present day through the Museum of the World interactive map. Ingeniously organised based on grids, spots and hidden links. Objects are classified in continent categories from Africa to America, Asia, Europe and Oceania, and theme categories include Art and Design, Living and Dying, Power and Identity, Religion and Belief, Trade and Conflict.
The Palace Museum, Beijing
As the embodiment of the Forbidden City that was designated as the royal residence of the Ming and Qing monarchies, the Palace Museum is a magnificent architectural complex that holds vast collections of Chinese paintings, calligraphy, ceramics, bronzes, jades, ancient books, and more.
The museum also provides a 4K virtual tour through the exhibition of Van Gogh’s oil painting “The Potato Eaters” on YouTube. The tour narrates his ambitions on this painting as his ticket out of obscurity and into the Parisian art world. All the while discussing whether this portrayal of harsh peasant life is a masterpiece or a failure.
Vatican Museums, Rome
On display are immense collections from Roman sculptures to splendid wall paintings amassed by the Catholic Church and the papacy throughout the centuries. The Vatican Museums are miniature embodiments of the different cultures and spirits of Rome. Their 14 virtual room tours are now available for visitors to learn more about Italian legacies in Renaissance art and religious worship. Such as their Sistine Halls whose ceiling was painted by Michelangelo, and Raphael’s Room formed as a suite of reception rooms in the Apostolic Palace painted by Raphael.
You can also browse more mobile works of art on display through their online catalogue.