Everyone’s springtime plans for traveling abroad have been put on hold because of COVID-19 quarantining. But thanks to Google, you can still tour the world’s most famous museums to see famous paintings and sculptures from the comfort of your home.
Welcome to ICYDK (In Case You Didn’t Know), a series where we offer tips and tricks that aren’t necessarily new but may have gone under the radar or otherwise not be well known.
Google Arts & Culture is a place where the public can see high-resolution images of artworks housed in partnered museums around the world. It makes it easy for anyone with an internet connection to enjoy a virtual tour of these museums (thanks to Google Street View), and see their most famous pieces of artwork up close (without having to deal with a crowded museum—phew!). The home page of Google Arts & Culture makes it easy for you to learn something new about art every day, with content curated by experts, whether you access it online or on your iOS or Android device.
Here are a few examples of things to be discovered on the site:
- 14 Facts About the Bento Box
- A Stroll Through CERN’s Underground Spaces
- French Wonders You Can Explore From Home
- Learn from Leading Choreographer Wayne McGregor
- What is the Hubble Telescope?
- 8 Public Sculptures You Can Find Online
Arts & Culture also lets you discover art through filters other than what museum they are shown in, like time and color, which is a unique and exciting approach. The site makes it easy to find museums and other art-centric businesses (like national monuments and parks) near you. And, of course, Google Arts & Culture has a silly but awesome feature that lets you turn a photo of your cat into a majestic masterpiece for the ages. Who said art can’t be fun?
Explore These International Art Museums
Below are just nine of the more than 2,500 amazing museums and galleries Google Arts & Culture has partnered with. You can enjoy a slow-paced virtual tour of each of them, see their featured exhibits, and learn about some of the featured artists and pieces of art.
Guggenheim Museum (New York City, USA)
From the museum’s iconic spiral staircase to its galleries of Contemporary and Modern artwork, New York City’s Guggenheim Museum embodies art inside and out. Online, you can tour the building, take part in some of their upcoming programs (like art classes), watch video interviews with artists, and, of course, explore the Guggenheim’s beautiful art collection.
Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Fans of this inimitable painter can peruse the largest collection of his more than 500 drawings, 200 paintings, and 750 personal letters online at the Van Gogh Museum. You can also “walk around” each floor of the museum and explore in a more traditional manner, thanks to Google Street View.
Musee d’Orsay (Paris, France)
The Musee d’Orsay is located in the center of Paris in a former railway station and hosts a collection of predominantly French art created between 1848 and 1914. Take your time browsing the various pieces including Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works, and works by Monet, Degas, van Gogh, Renoir, Gauguin, Cezanne, and Manet among others. There is also an online exhibit showcasing the building’s journey from a Beaux-Arts railway station to a renovated museum.
Hermitage Museum & Gardens (St. Petersburg, Russia)
The Hermitage is the second-largest art museum in the world with a sprawling collection dating all the way back to 1764, when Empress Catherine the Great purchased a significant amount of Western European artwork. The Hermitage is home to over three million items, including 17,000 paintings, 12,000 sculptures, and nearly 2 million archaeological findings. It hosts works by Rembrandt, Matisse, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, and more.
National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C., USA)
Located on the National Mall, the National Gallery of Art isn’t just a popular tourist destination, it’s home to a fascinating history of Western Art, ranging from the Middle Ages up to the present. Peruse the exhibits about Vermeer and the Dutch Golden Age, and the fashion of the colonial period through the 19th century.
Acropolis Museum (Athens, Greece)
Interested in ancient Greek archaeology? The Acropolis Museum should be up your alley then, as it is an archaeological site-specific museum with over 3,000 artifacts from the Rock of the Acropolis. You can browse through artifacts carved into rock, marble, and limestone, or take a virtual tour of the stunning museum itself with Google Street View.
Museum of Modern Art (New York City, USA)
Manhattan’s celebrated Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) was founded in 1929 and is devoted to works of the modern and contemporary eras. It houses over 150,000 paintings, drawings, photos, sculptures, and other design objects, as well as 300,000 books and periodicals, and 22,000 films and stills. Some of the better-known pieces within MoMA’s collection include Monet’s Water Lilies and van Gogh’s The Starry Night.
Uffizi Gallery (Florence, Italy)
If you’ve ever heard of the famous de’Medici family, you’ll find the Uffizi Gallery fascinating. The museum is one of the oldest in Italy—constructed in Florence in 1560 for a member of the de’Medici family—and has long held a dynastic collection of artifacts and artwork from the Italian Renaissance, the Baroque era, and even a few works by Leonardo da Vinci.
Museo Frida Kahlo (Mexico City, Mexico)
Fans of the Mexican portrait-loving painter will find something to love at the Museo Frida Kahlo, which is also known as La Casa Azul, where Kahlo was born and lived most of her life with her husband, Diego Rivera. Together, they filled the house with folk art and pre-Hispanic pieces as a nod to their admiration for the Mexican people. When Frida passed away, Diego donated the property so it could be turned into a museum in Kahlo’s honor.