What To Do: Stuck inside? Visit great museums virtually

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Rembrandt at The Rijksmuseum

With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of letting up, it looks like it will be a while until activities such as attending an entertainment event, watching a sports game in person or spending a day appreciating the exhibits in a museum are back on the menu.

Last week, I presented options for touring museums locally and throughout the state via virtual tours.

But why just limit your options to the local and state level. Many of the world’s most esteemed museums are offering interesting and impressive virtual tours.

One of my first choices – virtual or in person – would be the The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en).

The Rijksmuseum is the museum of the Netherlands. Its world-famous masterworks from the Dutch Golden Age include the Milkmaid by Vermeer and Rembrandt’s Night Watch.

The Rijksmuseum itself is also a masterpiece. The collection is presented in a stunning building with amazing interior design. In 80 galleries 8,000 objects tell the story of 800 years of Dutch art and history, from the Middle Ages to Mondrian. Every year, over 2.5 million visitors travel through the ages and experience a feeling of beauty and sense of time.

Van Gogh Museum

Just a few blocks away from the Rijksmuseum is another Dutch timeless attraction – the Van Gogh Museum (https://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en).

The Van Gogh Museum is a Dutch art museum dedicated to the works of Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries in Amsterdam; it is located at the Museum Square in the borough Amsterdam South, close to the Stedelijk Museum, the Rijksmuseum, and the Concertgebouw.

Fans of Van Gogh can see his works up close by virtually visiting this museum – the largest collection of artworks by Vincent van Gogh, including over 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and over 750 personal letters.

The Louvre in Paris (https://www.louvre.fr/en) is one of the most famous museums in the world.

While it is not likely to reopen soon for public visitation, the best – and safest – way is to enjoy one of its many virtual tours.

The Louvre, or the Louvre Museum, is the world’s largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city’s 1st arrondissement.

It is the world’s most-visited art museum, with a collection that spans work from ancient civilizations to the mid-19th century. More importantly, it is the home of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

Musée d’Orsay

Another premier French destination is the Musée d’Orsay in Paris (https://m.musee-orsay.fr/en/home.html).

The Musée d’Orsay is a museum in Paris, France, on the Left Bank of the Seine. It is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography.

You can virtually walk through this popular gallery that houses dozens of famous works from French artists who worked and lived between 1848 and 1914. Get a peek at artworks from Monet, Cézanne, and Gauguin, among others.

Explore the masterworks from the Dutch Golden Age, including works from Vermeer and Rembrandt. Google offers a Street View tour of this iconic museum, so you can feel as if you’re actually wandering its halls.

Italy is a great place to visit right now – virtually not physically.

The Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums in Rome (www.museivaticani.va) are impressive with soaring vaulted ceilings, intricate murals and tapestries. You can take a virtual tour of seven spaces featuring a series of 360-degree images, including the Sistine Chapel. There is also a tour that that visits Saint Peter’s Basilica and Square, complete with a tour guide narrating each interactive space.

A visit to Italy would be incomplete without a stop at the Uffizi Gallery, Florence (https://www.uffizi.it/en).

The Uffizi Gallery houses the art collection of one of Florence, Italy’s most famous families, the de’Medicis. The building was designed by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 specifically for Cosimo I de’Medici, but anyone can wander its halls from anywhere in the world.

The Uffizi contains one of the world’s most important collections of paintings. Besides Florentine and Italian art, it also includes a large number of foreign works and Classical sculpture.

You can open a bottle of your favorite British lager and head to London to check out the National Gallery and the British Museum.

The National Gallery in London (nationalgallery.org.uk) is one of the most  popular tourist destinations in England.

A backdrop to London’s four lions in Trafalgar Square, the National is home to 2,300 publicly owned paintings, watercolors, drawings and other European art from the 13th to the mid-20th century. There are seven exhibition spaces of Renaissance art and the Central Hall to explore in its 360-view virtual touring pages, from portraits to large dramatic altarpieces.

The British Museum (britishmuseum.org), which  is located in the heart of London allows virtual visitors to tour the Great Court and discover the ancient Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies.

There are 3,212 panes of glass in the domed ceiling of the British Museum’s Great Court, and no two are the same – and the 360-degree view in this virtual tour lets viewers examine each and every one. Beyond this magnificent space, viewers can find the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian mummies and other ancient wonders. The museum’s interactive infographic platform, History Connected, goes into further depth of various objects with curators, along a timeline.

You can hop over to Spain for a visit to the Guggenheim in Bilbao (www.guggenheim-bilbao.eus/en).

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao’s sculptured titanium and steel building on the banks of the Nervión River, which was created by Frank Gehry, is one of the world’s most distinctive art spaces. The interactive tour takes viewers around its collection of postwar American and European painting and sculpture – Rothko, Holzer, Koons, Kapoor – and even down between the weathered curves of Serra’s Matter of Time.

Another Guggenheim Museum you can visit virtually is the Guggenheim Museum in New York (https://www.guggenheim.org).

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum features incredible works of art from the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary eras.

The architecture of the Guggenheim’s building was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The museum makes some of its collections and exhibits available online for people who want to get a taste of what the museum has to offer, including works from Franz Marc, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso, and Jeff Koons.

Another New York City major museum is the Metropolitan Museum of Art (https://www.metmuseum.org).

The Met is home to more than two million works of fine art, but you don’t have to be in New York City to enjoy them. The institution’s website features an online collection and virtual tours of some of its most impressive pieces, including works from Vincent van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, and Giotto di Bondone.

If you want to check out some of the most interesting attractions in the Washington, D.C. area, there is no need to drive down I-95 to D.C. – just sit at your computer.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (www.nga.gov) is one the area’s top destinations.

This famous American art museum features two online exhibits through Google. The first is an exhibit of American fashion from 1740 to 1895, including many renderings of clothes from the colonial and Revolutionary eras. The second is a collection of works from Dutch Baroque painter Johannes Vermeer.

Founded in 1937, the National Gallery of Art is free and open to the general public. For those who aren’t in Washington, D.C., it also provides virtual tours of its gallery and exhibits. You can view its current exhibitions and listen to audio and video recordings of past lectures online.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (https://naturalhistory.si.edu/) is a world-famous destination. A virtual tour of the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History lets you experience its exhibits without the crowds.

The National Museum of Natural History, one of the most-visited museums in the world, offers a peek at its wonderful treasures with an online virtual tour of the entire grounds. Viewers are welcomed into its rotunda and are greeted with a comprehensive room-by-room, 360-degree walking tour of all its exceptional exhibits, including the Hall of Mammals, Insect Zoo, and Dinosaurs and Hall of Paleobiology.

You can keep your virtual travels closer to home by visiting any of the local and state museums that were featured in last week’s column — The Museum of the American Revolution (www.amrevmuseum.org), Betsy Ross House (historicphiladelphia.org/betsy-ross-house), Valley Forge National Historical Park (https://www.nps.gov/museum/exhibits/valley_forge), theAmerican Treasure Tour Museum (http://americantreasuretour.com/), The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania (https://rrmuseumpa.org/about/musviews/), The National Toy Train Museum(www.nttmuseum.org), The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/portal/communities/archaeology/resources/virtual-tour.html), and the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum (http://lumbermuseum.org/).

If you go to Visit Philadelphia’s website (https://www.youvisit.com/tour/visitphilly), you can be a tourist in the Quaker City without even getting up off the couch.

The organization has links to more than 20 different short virtual tours that provide a great introduction to the city.

The list of links includes Benjamin Franklin Bridge, Race Street Pier, Elfreth’s Alley, Independence Hall Exterior, Independence Mall, Liberty Bell Center, Carpenter’s Hall, Betsy Ross House, National Constitution Center, African American Museum of Philadelphia, National Museum of American Jewish History, Second Bank of the United States, Washington Square, Reading   Terminal Market, Avenue of the Arts, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Penn Museum, The Franklin Institute, The Barnes Foundation, Schuylkill Riverbanks, Boathouse Row, Fairmount Water Works, and Philadelphia Museum of Art “Rocky Steps” at Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Here’s something the entire housebound family can enjoy.

More than 100 museums and galleries have joined “Color Our Collections” (http://library.nyam.org/colorourcollections/) and invited people to enjoy some unique coloring pages as a way to enjoy artworks around the world while also staying home to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. These pages are great for children and adults – because, according to the Cleveland Clinic, adult coloring is an activity that can help you relax your brain.

Institutions are using the hashtag #ColorOurCollections on social media to advertise their downloadable coloring pages (in PDF form). Some notable organizations to do this in 2020 include The Getty, the Smithsonian, the Denver Botanical Garden, the Toronto Public Library, the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, the National Library of France, and many universities like the University of Minnesota, the University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries, the University of British Columbia Library, the University Of Melbourne, the Seton Hall Library, and Cambridge University Library.

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