VIRTUAL VACATIONS



The Best Online Tours for a Staycation

by Amille Bottom

Travel in the year of 2020 has been…well, not really a thing. Study abroad programs and family vacations have been canceled out of a sense of responsibility to the public. Staying home and not traveling is absolutely the right, responsible and safe thing to do. However, that being said, it can quickly turn isolating and dull. Fortunately, museums around the world are offering virtual tours to help the global population pass the time (and all of the ones listed here are free!) Change into your comfiest pajamas, grab a bowl of popcorn and get lost in the annals of time.

LONDON

British Museum

The British Museum in London, England has partnered with the Google Cultural Institute to create a deeply immersive tour experience. Virtual visitors get to experience “History Connected” in the “Museum of the World” by traversing an interactive timeline on-screen. Viewers can sort by continental region and five categories: art and design; living and dying; power and identity; religion and belief; trade and conflict.

PARIS

Musée d’Orsay

The Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France collaborated with Google Arts & Culture and developed a unique art tour online. Viewers can traverse the halls “on foot” in the exploration mode, view an online exhibition, or look at art curated into specific collections, such as “Modern Art,” “France” and “Impressionism.”

Louvre Museum

The Louvre offers virtual tours and room descriptions of a wide array of exhibits. The famous museum has sections devoted to YouTubers at the Louvre, close looks at artwork and a virtual reality experience of the Mona Lisa. The website also has links to numerous YouTube videos offering lessons on history and art.

WASHINGTON D.C.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

The National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institute allows visitors to “take self-guided, room-by-room tours of select exhibits and areas within the museum” virtually. The website offers narrated tours, as well as tours of permanent exhibits, current exhibits, and even past exhibits that are no longer on display. This tour is the perfect way to feel like you’re in the “Night at the Museum” movies from the comfort of your own home.

VATICAN CITY

The Vatican Museum

The Vatican Museum has an extensive collection of virtual tours of some of the world’s most famed architectural and artistic works. The website contains 360 degree tours of Raphael’s Rooms, the New Wing, the Pio Clementino Museum, Salone Sistino and more. The virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel is an amazing and rare opportunity to get up close and personal with the ceiling’s exquisite artwork.

VERSAILLES

The Palace of Versailles

Google Arts & Culture partnered with The Palace of Versailles to give the public a rare and highly detailed experience of one of France’s most historical pieces of architecture. The website gives viewers a chance to read stories from the palace’s history, look at art in a detailed way and see never-before-seen content.

BOSTON

Museum of Fine Arts

For a local twist, be sure to check out the Museum of Fine Arts' video tours. The website offers many tours of different sections of the museum, including specialized tours themed around certain exhibits.

Supporting the arts is essential in the middle of a pandemic, and a key part of that is by frequenting museums’ websites and supporting their virtual tour efforts. Stay safe, stay relaxed and stay educated this fall!