Many people will be saddened to hear that museums are being forced to temporarily close in many cities across the world, in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus. However, those who cannot bear to be without their regular visits to see display cabinets full of artefacts will be pleased to hear there is a social distance-friendly way to enjoy their favourite pastime.
This is to visit museums and galleries all around the world on virtual tours. This enables people to explore different exhibitions from the comfort and safety of their living room, allowing them to expand their knowledge and cultural experience without putting their health in danger.
So who can really benefit from these virtual experiences?
- School children
From March 23rd, all schools in the UK were closed to pupils except those whose parents are key workers. This has left a nation of mothers and fathers now trying to juggle their own work commitments with home-schooling their youngsters.
One way to keep their education up while enabling mums and dads to catch up on their work projects is to log on to virtual museum tours. As some are fully interactive, 360-degree videos that allow students to feel as though they are really walking around the exhibition centre, they are not likely to get bored.
What’s more, by listening to voiceover descriptions and being able to zoom in on artefacts and art works, they can get an even closer look at these pieces than they would if they were actually there in person.
Not only does this keep kids engaged for a couple of hours, but it is a great opportunity for them to learn something new or enhance their current knowledge, whether they are studying history, science or art.
Additionally, some museums are offering online workshops at the moment to help kids keep up with their education.
- Over 70s
Similarly, virtual museum tours could be ideal for those over the age of 70, or anyone else who has been told to isolate to protect their health. This includes those considered to be high-risk, such as pregnant women who have a serious heart condition; those who have had an organ transplant; people with certain types of cancer treatment; those with blood or bone marrow cancer; patients with a severe lung condition; those who are more prone to infections, and people who take medicine that weakens their immune system.
Just this group of high-risk Brits amounts to 1.5 million people, who have been told not to leave their home at all and avoid close contact with other people, including those in their own household.
However, the thought of being stuck indoors indefinitely can be too overwhelming for many, which is why being able to access online programmes, tours, classes and groups will be the thing they need to carry on during this challenging time.
They can have a walk around the Vatican Museum, or learn more about the ancient world at the National History Museum in London. They can visit places they have never been to before and expand their knowledge and experience for the better, so this time stuck indoors does not feel so wasted.
Which museums are offering virtual tours?
Over the last week or so, museums around the world have acted quickly to be able to provide these interactive tours, so their visitors, whether they are regulars or tourists, do not get bored at home and can still enjoy their exhibitions.
Among the museums that are offering virtual tours are The Louvre in Paris, with free online walks around three exhibitions, including its Egyptian Antiquities. This could be your only chance to get into The Louvre without having to book a ticket first!
Art history fans can also see the works of Pablo Picasso and Franz Marc at Solomon R Guggenheim Museum’s online collection. This includes the best pieces from its museums in New York, Venice, and Bilbao.
The British Museum in London is also offering a 360-degree virtual tour of its Great Court, as well as its exhibition rooms. Its History Connected interactive platform has curator voice-overs to enable ‘visitors’ to learn more about some of its exclusive objects.
Of course, being stuck at home could be the perfect opportunity to explore a museum in a different country that you may never have been able to visit. For instance, you can enjoy the virtual gallery platform at the Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo in Brazil.
Here, you’ll be able to see one of the largest historical collections of paintings from the 14th to 20th centuries, which appear suspended on glass panels around the museum.