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11 museums that you can virtually tour from your couch

Take a trip through some of the world’s greatest collections on these virtual museum and gallery tours

Photograph: Kit Leong via Shutterstock
Our much-loved museums and art galleries may be closing their doors due to the coronavirus outbreak, but don’t despair. Tech-savvy curators are getting creative with how the public can access their collections, and many are catering to an online audience with insanely good virtual tours.

Top-tier institutions around the world have vast online archives, meaning you can take a digital stroll through art history wearing just your pants (or even less if you really want).

From ogling Parisian Impressionist works in the Musée d’Orsay to a lesson in ancient Greece from Athens’ Benaki Museum to a voyeuristic archive of ex-lovers’ relics at the Museum of Broken Relationships, there are some fascinating exhibitions at your fingertips – all of which are free. So pop the kettle on, settle into the sofa and gear up for some seriously enlightening self-isolation with these museums you can explore from home.

By Lucy Lovell
British Museum, London

British Museum, London

The British Museum is the OG national museum. When it opened in 1759 it was the first of its kind to open to the public in the whole world, and they’re still showing us how it’s done today. The graphics on this tour are crazy; think an intergalactic guitar fretboard. Tap through a musical guide to Africa, the Americas, Asia, Oceania and Europe – and play a little tune along the way.

Virtual tour of the British Museum

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Thousands visit the Gugg every day just to explore its epic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building, and thanks to this Google Street View tour you can still wander its halls from your couch. Peruse the museum’s most significant offerings of postmodern, conceptual and installation art, then head to the homepage for a bumper database of its entire collection.


Virtual tour of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Over in the Netherlands, the Rijksmuseum is an oasis of classical Dutch art, Asian artefacts and 17th-century silver and porcelain. The Street View-style tour is fine, but better to stick to the brilliant online exhibitions, like the interactive guide to the master of throwing shade, Rembrandt.


Virtual tour of the Rijksmuseum

Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Fancy a trip to Paris? Oui oui! This grand museum holds the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist works in the world, and you can click your way through the very best among them thanks to interactive galleries featuring van Gogh, Cézanne, Degas and more.

Virtual tour of the Musée d’Orsay

Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Uffizi Gallery, Florence

You can scroll through more than 300,000 works in the digital archives of the Uffizi, Florence’s treasure chest of Renaissance art. Botticelli, Titian and Canaletto – all the big boys are here. Click on the HyperVisions tab for thoughtfully curated tours around themes such as angels, epiphany and ‘intercultural vision’. Deep.

Virtual tour of the Uffizi Gallery

Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb and Los Angeles

Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb and Los Angeles

This could be a touchy subject for quarantining couples, but the Museum of Broken Relationships takes a nostalgic look at old flames – and it’s really quite beautiful. Each item on display represents the donor’s ex, and the stories behind them range from uplifting to heartbreaking. Who knew an old toaster could be so poignant?


MASP, São Paulo

MASP, São Paulo

The Museu de Arte de São Paulo has a very particular way of displaying artwork in their galleries: paintings are hung on crystal easels that make them look like they’re floating mid-air. Check it out on their virtual gallery, which also features online exhibits of art from Brazil and beyond.

Virtual tour of MASP

Picasso Museum, Barcelona

Picasso Museum, Barcelona

As well as a vast online catalogue of Pablo’s best bits, this temple to all things Picasso offers a 360-degree tour of some of the best-preserved Medieval architecture in Barcelona. When you’re done snooping around the building, check out their Twitter hashtag #MuseuPicassoVirtual to break up your newsfeed with daily doses of art.

Virtual tour of Picasso Museum

Benaki Museum, Athens

Benaki Museum, Athens

Take a virtual wander through ancient Greece with the Benaki Museum’s 360-degree tour. It’s easy to get lost in their unrivalled collection of artefacts – from ancient fertility statues to gilded Byzantine paintings – with some dating back as far as 6500BC.

Virtual tour of Benaki Museum

National Palace Museum, Taipei City

National Palace Museum, Taipei City

Go on a treasure hunt in Taiwan’s National Palace Museum, home to a massive collection of Chinese arts and crafts from the neolithic to the modern era. Choose from a selection of guided tours and click on anything that piques your interest as you mooch around.

Virtual tour of National Palace Museum

Museum of Modern Art, New York

Museum of Modern Art, New York

You can view 129 artworks from MoMA’s collection on Google, including big-hitters like van Gogh’s ‘The Starry Night’, Paul Cézanne’s ‘Still Life with Apples’ and Rousseau’s ‘The Sleeping Gypsy’. What’s more, they’re grouped into categories such as contemporary art, Modernist art and Cubism – making for fun, easy and informative browsing.

Virtual tour of Museum of Modern Art

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