1. British Museum, London
Visit more than 60 galleries within this iconic institution by using the Google Street View function. In fact, the museum holds the honour of being the world’s biggest indoor space on Google Street View. Enjoy the blissful silence and freedom from the art Instagrammers as you take in some of the museum’s highlights – such as the famed Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures, Egyptian mummies and intricate textiles. There are also virtual galleries that allow you to explore the museum’s Oceania collection, as well as selected prints and drawings. Don‘t miss the stunning infographic platform, History Connected, where you can learn more about artefacts from around the world by using your arrow keys to scroll backwards and forwards through time.
2. Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Soak in various masterpieces – from sculptures to ceramics and swords – from Japan’s oldest national museum by viewing the exhibition halls virtually through Google Street View. The museum offers curator-led gallery tours for Japanese speakers. Alternatively, you can learn more about the history and architecture of various spaces, such as the Honkan Japanese gallery, through this series of English videos.
3. National Museum of Korea, Seoul
With an extensive collection of artefacts spanning from ancient times to the modern era, this museum is a significant repository of Korean history, art and culture. It has opened up some of its exhibition halls for virtual viewing, and you can also learn more about specific artefacts through English-subtitled videos on subjects such as Egyptian hieroglyphs and large-scale Buddhist hanging scrolls.
4. Melbourne Museum, Melbourne
From virtual tours to mini-websites, videos and audio tours, there’s plenty to explore at this museum, which offers an insight into wildlife, human biology, the natural environment and more. A must-see is the First Peoples exhibition where you’ll learn all about the diverse languages, histories and cultures of the Aboriginal people of Victoria. The Dinosaur Walk exhibition is also intriguing, with 17 skeletons of prehistoric animals on display.
5. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York
MoMA is allowing its visitors a peek into its galleries every Thursday through an initiative called Virtual Views, with each session focusing on a different topic. Past tours have consisted of an exploration on the life of French art critic Félix Fénéon – which included live Q&A sessions with MoMA director Glenn Lowry and curator Starr Figura, audio clips, videos and a selection of key works – as well as a look at the influential post-war American sculpture artist Donald Judd. You can also browse 129 of MoMA’s pieces, including Henri Rousseau’s The Dream and Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, through a partnership with Google Art and Culture, where you’ll find detailed descriptions accompanying each artwork.
6. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
This majestic museum has more than 80 galleries housing a vast collection of art and historical objects across 800 years. Get up close and personal with the works of Dutch masters such as Rembrandt and Vermeer as you explore the Great Hall and beyond through a virtual tour. What’s particularly enjoyable is that as you click through the masterpieces – for example, Vermeer’s life–like The Milkmaid – you can hear audio clips explaining various details of the work and artist, enriching your viewing experience. You can also delve deeper into each piece by heading to the interactive online exhibits on Google Arts and Culture.
7. Louvre, Paris
The website has virtual tours focused on a number of exhibits, such as its collections from the Pharaonic period and another on the connection between art and political power. Other interesting resources available include A Closer Look, where you can zoom into magnificent paintings to observe minute details, and the One Minute in a Museum video series, where cartoon characters react to various art pieces and describe them in an approachable and humorous manner. Of course, there’s also the famous Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, which is brought to life through a virtual reality experience available on your mobile phone via an app.
8. Vatican Museums, Rome
Immerse yourself in the wonder of the Vatican Museums by taking virtual tours of its world–famous spaces without having to jostle with the crowds. These include Raphael’s Rooms, which house a stunning collection of frescos painted by the Renaissance master or by his pupils under his direction, and the famed Sistine Chapel, where you can gawp at its gorgeous ceiling, including The Creation of Adam painted by Michelangelo. The soaring vaulted ceilings, detailed tapestries, patterned tiled floors and ornate walls – all available in high definition – will have you in awe, even on your couch.