Virtual culture

There's no need to miss out on some of the world's best museums and cultural performances just because you're stuck at home...


If you’re craving a culture fix, a whole string of museums and art galleries have free virtual tours to check out online while actual visits are off the cards.

The Google Arts and Culture project links to an impressive number of museums around the world, with over 2,500 including the Louvre, Rijksmuseum and the Uffizi, plus the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, not to mention options in London such as the National Gallery and Tate Britain.

Others have their own virtual tours as well as collections online, podcasts and videos from behind the scenes if you’ve got a favourite place you’re missing — or a trip that has had to be postponed.

The Vatican Museum

Skip the crowds in the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Room, among other locations on the virtual tour of the Vatican Museums.

The 360-degree view of the rooms lets you zoom in on ceiling details or follow the path that visitors take in real life.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

You’re not limited to virtual visits to discover some of the key works from different museums, as the Guggenheim’s online collection proves.

It features pieces from 625 artists on the website, with various works from Mondrian, for example, as well as Picasso, not to mention contemporary artists such as Marina Abramovic, all accompanied by background detail to read.

Shakespeare at the Globe

Watch one of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays, performed by some of the UK’s top actors, on Globe Player, showing a variety of productions from the Globe Theatre from the past decade or so.

The majority of content is paid-for, although to rent the video costs approximately the same as a standing ticket… and you’ll get to sit down. There is some limited free content as well, including behind-the-scenes videos.

Royal Opera House online

The Royal Opera House is streaming various productions on demand for free via its Facebook and YouTube channels, including a 2010 performance of Cosi fan tutte on April 10 and The Metamorphosis from The Royal Ballet on April 17.

Other free online shows are expected to be announced, while there’s more content on BBC iPlayer from the ROH, plus more performances on Marquee TV, currently offering a free 30-day trial (and including other theatres as well).

The British Museum

Take a virtual walk through the galleries at the British Museum including some of its most popular items such as the Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies.

The pieces are laid out in date order, with links between associated collections and audio to listen to as well as the images to see. While you can’t eye up all 80,000 objects on display at the London site, you’re likely to discover at least few that you’d never spotted while wandering around in person. Find more virtual London museum ideas here.


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