For the first time in my life, I spent two weeks of holidays at home. Even our original plan of exploring locally around Frankfurt seemed too risky right now, so I decided to use my time to prepare lots of fun things for the blog, clean up our apartment and play video games.
That’s not exactly how I imagined my holidays to be. Nevertheless, I know that many people are in the same situation, unable to travel and see the world. That is why I’ve started looking into cool museums to visit from the living room.
We are incredibly lucky today. All it takes is a few clicks to find virtual museums online. No need to spend hours on a plane – if you want to see the national treasures of Kenya, you can do so from your couch.
To help you find the most impressive museums you can visit online, we have put together this list. Keep reading, and then we have a special surprise for you at the end.
Our favourite museums you can visit online
#1 The British Museum, London
We already mentioned this museum when we talked about the best tourist attractions you can visit online, but we want to bring it up again on this list. The British Museum has one of the best online exhibits that you can find.
The British Museum is famous for its exhibits from all over the world. Start by taking a look at their timeline, where you can find many objects ordered by the time period they came from as well as by continent. The oldest piece, a stone chopping tool, dates back to 2,000,000 BC! Take a look at a Sumerian silver lyre or Egyptian scrolls depicting scenes from daily life.
If you prefer wandering through the museum as if you were there, you can explore it with Street View. Or you can get an overview of the museum’s most important pieces on the website of the British Museum. Here, they highlight various parts of the world, and you can easily spend multiple hours exploring.
Do you want to learn more about the Mayan ruins in Palenque? Or do you prefer reading a historical travel guide to the city of Aksum, which was the capital of the East African Empire of Aksum? All of this is possible on this fabulous website.
#2 Hermitage, Saint Petersburg
Let’s travel to Russia and visit the Hermitage. Did you know that this museum is the second biggest art museum in the world? The only bigger one that you can find is the Louvre, but don’t worry, we’ll get to that later.
During the virtual visit of the Hermitage, the buildings you explore are just as impressive as the collections themselves. You can also watch videos explaining more about the history of each of these buildings. The museum opened for public in 1852, although the collection has been around for much longer. Catherine the Great founded the Hermitage in 1764 after purchasing a large number of paintings.
Inside the museum, you can explore an extensive collection of Western European Art as well as a few special collections. Take a look at the Egyptian collection, for example, or the compilation of prehistoric art.
#3 Anne Frank House, Amsterdam
If you haven’t made it to Amsterdam yet, then you’re in luck. You can visit the Anne Frank House online without ever leaving your living room. Step into the secret annex and find out where Anne spent more than two years in hiding during WW II.
To learn more about the building and Anne Frank’s story, you can watch videos or read additional explanations. You can also learn more about the people who lived in the house, as well as about the helpers. The combination of all those interactive elements will almost make you feel like you visited the Anne Frank House yourself!
#4 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Let’s stay in Amsterdam for a moment. Here, you can also visit the Van Gogh Museum online. On their homepage, you can find lots of information about the collection, from paintings and drawings to letters written by Van Gogh. You can also learn more about the painter’s life.
What is really cool about this museum is that in addition to letting you see the collection, they also offer painting tutorials. In addition, they have created an app where you can learn more about Van Gogh, a book club and free online lessons for primary and secondary education. You can also download colouring pages, making this a great museum to explore online with kids.
If you prefer a more traditional museum visit, then you can also explore the building with a street view tour and walk past all of the exhibits.
#5 National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
Visiting museums online is an excellent chance of learning more about former civilisations in all parts of the world. That’s why you shouldn’t miss out on the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.
Here, you can see relics from all of the ancient cultures in Mexico. Take a look at the Sun Stone, for example (click on Street View to see it inside the museum). People tend to call this famous relic the “Aztec Calendar”, even though it did not represent a calendar but merely the conception of time.
You can also find an exhibit about the Maya in this museum, another great civilisation that once lived in Central America. Or maybe you want to learn more about indigenous cultures in Mexico? Then you should go up to the second floor, where you can find objects and scenes of daily life.
#6 Louvre, Paris
The Louvre, as we already said above, is the world’s largest art museum. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel to Paris to see some of their unique exhibits but can instead visit online. Not all of the galleries are available in English, but if you go to “Body in Movement”, for example, you can switch between English and French.
As for the other galleries that haven’t been translated yet, you can still look at the exhibits and read some of the more prominent signs in English.
Besides, the Louvre offers lots of other online contents. They have videos called “One Minute in a Museum“, which are perfect for children to learn more about art. Or the VR Mona Lisa experience, for which they have developed their own app that you can download to your phone. Take a look around, and you’ll discover lots of fun things to do.
#7 Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Let’s travel to a very different part of the world for a moment and explore the Tokyo National Museum. Here, you can find great examples of Japanese art. Take a look at the painting of the great wave off the coast of Kanagawa, for instance, which is so famous that we’re sure you’ve already seen it before.
Or explore Japanese Buddhist art and statues. And how about some traditional Japanese kimonos?
The Tokyo National Museum is large with lots of treasures to discover inside. If you then want to dive deeper into Japanese art and culture, make sure to check out the Japan E-Museum. Here, you can admire treasures from the collection of five different Japanese national museums. The categories include, amongst others, calligraphy, architecture and metalworks, so this is your chance to see some unusual relics without having to travel to Japan.
#8 The Dalí Theatre Museum, Figueres
The Dalí Theatre Museum is another excellent museum that you can visit online. Take a virtual stroll through Dalí’s Theatre and discover how the artists turned a municipal theatre in Spain into a giant piece of art.
On your visit, you can learn not just about Dalí’s art but also about his life. In every room, you will find multiple colourful dots that highlight pieces of art and will give you further information. Move from room to room through this unusual building and make sure not to miss Dalí’s tomb. His last wish was to be buried in this museum, so you’ll find his tombstone in here.
#9 Pergamonmuseum, Berlin
The Pergamonmuseum in Berlin is one of the many fascinating museums you can find in this city on the museum island. This one houses the collection of antiquities, rarities from the Middle East as well as a collection of Islamic Art and is so significant that it is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Even if you were in Berlin right now, you would not be able to see all of the museum right now as parts have closed for renovation. So you’re lucky you can visit it from home on a virtual tour.
The most famous piece in the exhibition is the Pergamon Altar, from which the museum got its name. This altar is a giant construction that dates back to the 2nd century BC and comes from the ancient city of Pergamon, located in modern-day Turkey. You can also admire many more pieces from that region and time period and learn more about life back then.
#10 Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C.
If you’re interested in natural history, then you should visit the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Their online tour allows you not just to see the permanent and current special exhibition, but to also take a look at past exhibitions.
Even if you have the chance of visiting the museum in person, the virtual tours are a great chance of catching up on any exhibitions you missed.
While walking through the permanent exhibition of the natural history museum, you can find an overview map in the top right corner that allows you to travel between points of interest quickly. I loved the dinosaur skeletons on the first floor but was also fascinated by the Objects of Wonder on the second floor. If you take your time, you will discover lots of unique exhibits in this museum and learn more about the natural wonders on our planet.
#11 National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi
Google Arts and Culture cooperated with many museums in Kenya to give you a chance of visiting the national museums online. You have the choice of visiting a total of 84 sites. I found the Gede Ruins pretty awesome, a historic Swahili town that flourished in the 15th century.
But you can discover many more museums in Kenya. The Nairobi National Museum, for example, can teach you more about the country. You can learn about the history of the country as well as its wildlife. This slideshow gives a comprehensive overview of the exhibitions you can expect in this museum.
Make sure to explore properly, as you will find many objects worth seeing in all of the museums that you can currently visit. And who knows, maybe you’ll love it so much that soon, you’ll find yourself planning a trip to East Africa.
#12 Guggenheim Museum, New York City
Have you heard of the Guggenheim Museum in New York? Even if a trip to the city doesn’t seem feasible during the next months, you can still visit this fantastic museum online and admire the extensive collection of art.If you like the museums we’ve selected so far, make sure to check out our post about the
Besides touring through the museum on a virtual visit, you can also check out the museum’s website where they offer videos about specific pieces of art as well as many other online resources.
The Guggenheim Museum is known for its extensive collection of impressionist and contemporary art. Its unusual architecture made it part of the UNESCO site “The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright”, and you will enjoy walking down the spiral staircase inside.
Solomon R. Guggenheim started collecting art in the 1920s/1930s already, but the first museum that Guggenheim opened was built on a different site. The current building as you see it today didn’t open until 1959, ten years after the death of Guggenheim.
#13 National Women’s History Museum, Alexandria, USA
This is the only museum we know of that dedicates itself exclusively to the history of women and women’s rights. Therefore, we highly recommend that you visit the online exhibits.
You will find a variety of media used here. Instead of walking through the halls of the museum with Google street view, you can instead learn more about the history of women in slideshows and interactive displays. I particularly loved the Outdoor Adventurers, but I also think you should look at the Women in NASA.
Did you know that NASA hired many women in the 20s to 40s? Their “human computers” often worked better and more efficiently than the ones run by men, and they played a massive role in the NASA operations. While reading up on their stories, keep in mind that back then, some people still thought that women didn’t have the aptitude ever to become engineers or understand maths!
#14 El Prado, Madrid
We’ve mentioned a few large and well-known art museums before, so it makes sense for us to add El Prado to this list. This Spanish museum doesn’t offer the virtual street view tours that you know from other museums. However, you can still have lots of fun while exploring their exhibits.
On the website of El Prado, you’ll find lots of recommended itineraries. By clicking through them, you can take a look at each piece of art and learn more about them. You can also look at the videos you can find on the website.
If you speak a bit of Spanish, we recommend that you also check out the museum’s Instagram account. From 9:50 – 10:00 am every morning local time, you can watch a short video in which the curators will tell you more about one painting. You need to speak Spanish pretty well, but if you do (or you know someone who can translate), this is a great chance to learn more about art.
#15 Museum of Islamic Art, Doha
We have already mentioned Islamic Art when talking about the Pergamonmuseum. You should also visit the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, all without having to travel to the Middle East (although we’re sure that Qatar is worth a visit).
The museum website features a few well-selected trails that show you important exhibits in the museum. Those work best if you are actually in Doha, but you can also use them to take a look at the pieces of art and learn more about their significance. Did you know, for example, about the connection between Chinese and Islamic Art?
After you’re done there, take a street view tour through the museum to discover even more exhibits. You’ll see Arabic calligraphy, carpets, paintings and much more.
Bonus: International Space Station
Yes, we know that this one doesn’t really fit here. The ISS is not a museum, after all. But how cool is it that you can now take a virtual tour of the International Space Station?
My take-away from the tour was that space up there is very cramped and limited. I’m glad I could explore the place from my couch, without having to go through any discomfort, and learn more about what the astronauts do up there.
As you can see, you can find lots of museums online that offer virtual tours. The 15 we mentioned only represent a fraction of the ones we’ve found. Google Arts and Culture have worked hard to make online visits possible, even in countries as remote as Kenya.
If you want to visit more places online, make sure to check out our post in which we have rounded up our favourite tourist attractions to visit online. Did you know you can see Stonehenge as well as the volcanoes on Hawaii?
Also, if you know of a museum that you love, make sure to leave us a comment! We’d love to hear from you.
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