If there’s one place to introduce yourself to the world of virtual museum tours, then the world’s largest art museum is probably it. Explore the spooky remains of The Louvre’s 12th century moat on a virtual tour, as well as the gallery’s collection of Egyptian antiquities, Greek sculpture, Italian paintings and the Galerie d’Apollon, with its ceiling homage to Louis XIV. Oh yes, and a little painting called the Mona Lisa, you may want to catch a glimpse of that, too.
The British Museum
The British Museum has around eight million objects in its collection, from some of the earliest objects created by man to works by contemporary artists – all of which you can browse online. With more than 60 free galleries to explore, you’re unlikely to feel boredom setting in, but if you do start to feel your attention wandering, why not take a virtual tour of their Prints and Drawings collection (where you’ll see work from the Old Masters, including Degas, Goya, Michelangelo and Dürer), and Oceania – an area covering Australia, New Guinea, and the many islands spread across the Pacific Ocean, from which The British Museum has some of the world’s most important collections of art and artefacts.
There are 26 different museums to explore online here, including virtual tours of Raphael’s Rooms – the four rooms decorated by Raphael and his school from 1508–1524, which were then chosen by Pope Julius II as his own residence – and the Gregorian Egyptian Museum, which is rich in material from Roman Egypt and from Egyptian-influenced Rome. But everyone knows what the main attraction here will be, and you won’t be disappointed; experience 360-degree views of Michelangelo’s beloved Sistine Chapel online and you’ll likely enjoy a better view than if you had visited the real thing.
Palace of Versailles
One of the greatest achievements in French 17th century art, Louis XIII's old hunting pavilion was transformed and extended by his son, Louis XIV, when he installed the Court and government there in 1682. A succession of kings continued to embellish the Palace up until the French Revolution, and today it houses the history of France across its 2,300 rooms. Now, thanks to the Palace’s partnership with Google Arts & Culture, you can take a virtual tour and digitally wander through the Hall of Mirrors or explore the bedchamber of Marie Antoinette. Themed online exhibitions consider science, music, fashion and astronomy.
The Frida Kahlo Museum
Popularly known as the Casa Azul (the ‘Blue House’), the Museo Frida Kahlo preserves the personal objects that reveal the private world of Latin America’s most celebrated female artist. The Blue House also contains some of the painter’s most important works, including Long Live Life (1954), Frida and the Caesarian Operation (1931), and Portrait of My Father Wilhelm Kahlo (1952), among others. Virtually walk around the beautiful courtyard gardens that inspired many of Frida’s paintings, or delve into an online exhibition featuring pieces from her flamboyant wardrobe.
Washington’s Museum of Natural History offers self-guided room-by-room tours that will help all ages understand better the intricacies of the natural world and our place in it. Whether it’s a flutter into the Butterfly Pavilion or rocking around the Hall of Fossils, delve into the fascinating story of our planet, from its fiery beginnings through billions of years of transformation, to the animals and plant life we still see around us today.
Laing Art Gallery
One of Newcastle’s primary art galleries, the Laing is home to an internationally important collection of art, focusing on British oil paintings, watercolours, ceramics, silver and glassware – all of which you can explore online. So whether you’re wanting to search for something in particular – say, William Holman-Hunt’s pre-Raphaelite masterpiece Isabella and the Pot of Basil – or you want to simply dive straight in and let your curiosity take over, there’s plenty to pique your interest here.
The Hepworth Wakefield
Explore some of the remarkable and diverse highlights of the nationally-important collection of modern British art currently held at The Hepworth Wakefield online. Celebrating Yorkshire’s heritage as the birthplace of modern British sculpture through the achievements of Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore – two of the most important artists of the 20th century, who were both born in the Wakefield district – The Hepworth’s collection now consists of more than 5,000 works of modern and contemporary British art.