As governments across the world implement “social distancing” efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus, in some cities, bars, restaurants and other public spaces have been ordered to close. That leaves self-quarantined people with a lot of free time and nowhere to go.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended postponing all large gatherings, which left operators of tourist attractions with few options. Museums and historical sites have stepped up to deliver their signature experiences by offering virtual tours to anyone from the comfort of their homes.
Here’s a list of places travelers can tour — without having to leave the couch.
Last year, the world’s most visited museum was the subject of lamentations over overcrowding and peculiar guest behavior. Now because of its closure, visitors to the Louvre can check out virtual tours of the Egyptian antiquities collection, remains of the Louvre’s moat and the Galerie d’Apollon without having to brush by anyone’s shoulders. Visit louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne
Van Gogh Museum
The largest Van Gogh collection in the world — 600 artworks and 700 letters — is housed in this Amsterdam museum and can be viewed via a virtual guided tour. View the inside of the museum along with insights into the Dutch postimpressionist artist’s life through paintings including “Sunflowers” and “The Yellow House.” Visit tinyurl.com/wa93k9b.
Museum of Modern Art
The MoMa is one of over 500 museums and galleries Google Arts & Culture has partnered with to offer an interactive experience of the gallery space. The nearly 100-year-old museum is home to some of the contemporary art world’s most famous pieces, including Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies,” Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” and Pablo Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.” Visit tinyurl.com/syx2ox7.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
The Smithsonian is offering virtual tours that let visitors take a self-guided, room-by-room trip through the museum’s slate of exhibits. The current exhibits include the Butterfly Pavilion and the David H. Koch Hall of Fossils, and visitors can even journey through past exhibits, on topics including the last American dinosaurs, the universe, and DNA and genomics. Visit tinyurl.com/uzyltm5.
The national lockdown in Italy has forced the country to a near-standstill, shuttering public events, soccer stadiums and even the Vatican. Now, visitors can tour the interior artworks of the chapel, including its renowned ceiling and “The Last Judgment,” by the Renaissance-era painter Michelangelo. Visit tinyurl.com/j6zqbta.
The world’s oldest national museum is another space that has partnered with Google Arts & Culture to showcase an interactive gallery. Visitors can roam the halls of the museum, peruse the exhibits and see famous objects like the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures and mummies. Just don’t expect to see any Banksys anytime soon. Visit tinyurl.com/y8caftdk.
The Guggenheim is offering VR access to its entire contemporary arts collection through a partnership with Google Arts & Culture. Using the Street View feature, visitors can tour the museum’s iconic architecture, sprawling design and any of its galleries. Visit tinyurl.com/slo4ulu.