The fact is, most of us are going to be spending a lot of time at home
. And while nothing can replicate the swell of a live orchestra or the quiet murmur of an art gallery on a Saturday morning, there are countless cultural experiences at your fingertips to make your time indoors more artful and imaginative.
looks at some of the most fascinating, immersive concerts, museum tours and other virtual experiences you can explore from the comfort of your own couch.
But first, some tips on enjoying them:
- Make a moment of it. You would schedule time for a museum visit or a concert, right? Do the same for your virtual version. Find a place or time with minimal interruptions so you can get the most out of the experience. Forego extraneous internet browsing or Facebook messenger, and enjoy the art in front of you. This is why livestreams are so great. Of course, you can watch a performance afterward, but if you can, experiencing it in the moment feels more like the real thing.
- Class it up. OK, you don’t need to get glammed up (you could, though!). But a little pour of wine or tea and a plate of snacks will help set the mood.
- Choose a theme. If museum jaunts are your thing, plan out your dream art tour across the world, or hone in on a particular history or interest. Or pick a city, like Washington, D.C., and load up all the local cultural experiences you can.
- Involve the kids. Sure, they may not want to watch “Carmen,” but plenty of zoos and museums are offering cool programs for kids while they’re out of school, like animal spotlights and virtual safaris. (Bonus: No long walk back to the car after your visit.)
1/20 – 1. Louvre, Paris
The Louvre is the world’s most-popular museum, according to the 2015 Museum Index released by the Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM. The Louvre welcomed 8.7 million visitors. Click through the gallery to see the rest of the world’s most popular museums. Credit: Watcharee Suphaluxana/Shutterstock
Now, on to the good stuff, with suggestions. (And remember, these are just a few options in a virtual sea of things to do. Explore, or look up your favorite local cultural landmark to see what online offerings they have.)
Musée d’Orsay: Paris
Take in 278 masterpieces here
. Our suggestions: Vincent Van Gogh’s self portrait
, and Éduoard Manet’s legendary nude, “Olympia.”
Don’t worry about clicking aimlessly, all the pieces have extensive descriptions and notations.
National Gallery of Art: Washington, D.C.
Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images
Uffizi Gallery: Florence, Italy
Take a virtual walk through Florence’s artistic gem
before stopping to admire some of the museum’s most famous inhabitants. Our suggestion: Sandro Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” of course
. But also, in the tour, don’t forget to drag the screen and look up at the beautiful frescoes on the ceiling, painted by Alessandro Allori.
Johannesburg Art Gallery: Johannesburg
Browse more than 500 works from Africa’s largest art gallery. Our suggestion: The museum houses plenty of works form Dutch and other European artists, but it also offers an array of works from South African artists
. For a more historical angle, browse their online exhibit about the role of photography and resistance
in the era of Apartheid.
National Portrait Gallery: Washington, D.C.
The intimate nature of portraiture makes this museum a particularly great option for a home browse
. Our suggestion: Now’s the time to take a closer look at the Obama portraits
everyone raves about
British Museum: London
Explore a stunning visual timeline of the world
, with an array of annotated objects. Our suggestion: This timeline pairs nicely with “A History of the World in 100 Objects
,” a podcast narrated by the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor. (If your ears are craving more, here are some more culture podcasts to enjoy
African American History and Culture: Washington, D.C.
If you’ve ever wanted to visit an extremely popular museum but couldn’t seem to nab tickets, a virtual tour is the next best thing! This one gives you just a taste of what the museum has to offer,
and where in the museum each feature is located.
Lucia RM Martino/National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History: Washington, D.C.
Dinosaurs! Snakes in jars! Giant diamonds! This is a good option for kids
. Our suggestions: The Ocean Hall, The Hall of Mammals, and the Hall of Fossils
. Or, mix it up with minerals
Russia’s State Hermitage Museum: St. Petersburg, Russia
Got five hours to kill? Enjoy this extensive video tour of the largest museum in Russia
, complete with 45 galleries and 588 artistic masterpieces.
Cathy Carver/Hirshhorn Museum
Kusama’s Infinity mirrors
If you missed one of the hottest traveling museum exhibits of the past few years, ooh
at a brisk room-by-room rundown of the hypnotic, multi-faceted work
of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.
Carl Court/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
Banksy Murals around the world
Go on an artistic treasure hunt
— without the hunt part. With something like street art, it’s much more interesting to see the work it its full context, than just through a close-up.
Van Gogh’s Starry Night at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City
These close-up looks at famous paintings
are so intense, you may think a docent will start yelling at you. Few paintings are suited to such a treatment than the bold, textured lines of The Starry Night.
The Vancouver Symphony live streamed its final performance from their BeethovenFest
, and it’s available for your viewing — and listening — pleasure any time.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
With a special limited-time code, you can enjoy a treasury of online performances
from one of the best orchestras in the world. Our suggestion: You can’t go wrong with anything from the trifecta of national B’s: Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. But Gustav Mahler’s second symphony, The Resurrection Symphony
, seems apt in these trying time.
Operas, plays and ballets
Royal Opera House: London
When it comes to high culture, don’t underestimate YouTube! The Royal Opera House’s channel
has a selection of some of the top performances from famous operas and ballets, just a click away. Our suggestions: The Caterpillar from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
, and The Dance of the Knights from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet
, if just for the incredible costumes.
Vienna State Opera
If you can’t be in Vienna, you can at least treat yourself to full streams of some of the Vienna State Opera’s latest performances
. A reminder, for people who don’t like opera: These works are almost always as much a treat for the eyes as much as the ears.
Metropolitan Opera: New York City
Arts lovers, if appointment viewing is more your thing, the Met is putting on nightly opera streams
. But you better not be late! They’re only available until 3:30 p.m. ET the next day. And there’s something to be said for such ephemerality.
The Social Distancing Festival
Want more live streamed arts? A theater artist has created The Social Distancing Festival
, which gathers live streams and videos of all different types of performances in one place, on one calendar.
Courtesy Matthew Murphy/The Phantom of the Opera
Did you know you can stream broadway shows through Amazon, iTunes, YouTube and other streaming services? You can also check out BroadwayHD, a special streaming service that brings you the greatest from the Great White Way
. It’s $8.99 a month, but there’s a one-month free trial.
The White House: Washington, D.C.
Hang out in the Oval Office? Don’t mind if we do!
By the way, the online exhibit sections of Google Arts & Culture’s offerings are like having your own personal tour guide. Our suggestion: The Virtual Tour of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building
will get you acquainted with stunning spaces you’ve only ever seen on TV.
MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images
Palace of Versailles: Versailles, France
Explore one of France’s national treasures and all of the Baroque art, architecture and finery within
. Our suggestion: Go outside of the palace interior for an early birds-eye-view of the grounds
, to get your bearings.
The Prambanan Temple: Yogyakarta, Indonesia
There’s so much to behold in this iconic, intricate Hindu temple complex
. Good thing you’re in no rush! Step up to the spires with the arrow marks, and drag your cursor to get a good look at the carvings.
The Sistine Chapel: Vatican City
Zoos and aquariums
The Cincinnati Zoo
Every day while school is out, the Cincinnati Zoo (home of the famous Fiona the hippo
), will be hosting a Home Safari on their Facebook Live Feed
at 3 p.m. ET. They’ll have up-close animal experiences, plus activities to do at home.
Penguin touring aquarium gives internet much-needed break
The Shedd Aquarium: Chicago, Illinois
The Shedd Aquarium has already captured hearts with the antics of its resident penguins, which have been filmed roaming the now-empty halls of the aquarium, looking at all of the other exhibits. But animal lovers will want to follow their Facebook page
, too: They’re sharing all kinds of behind-the-scenes videos and fun virtual experiences.
The San Diego Zoo
Want to have something fun going on in the background while you’re working? Your favorite zoo probably has live cams so you can check in on all the animals. The San Diego Zoo is a great start
The Georgia Aquarium: Atlanta
The Georgia Aquarium has live streams, too
! And you can pick what animal you want to watch. We’re partial to the African Penguins.