If you want to infuse some culture into your day, a virtual museum or gallery tour is a fantastic idea. In addition to tours from the museums’ own websites, Google Arts & Culture teamed up with 2,500 museums around the world to offer a peek into their collections without the hassle of crowds. This is also a great way for kids to gain some art history knowledge while they’re home from school.
And, if you do a few virtual tours as a family, it can spark your next travel adventure. There is nothing more thrilling for me than to have learned about an artist or work of art and then get the chance to see it in person. I promise you that your kids will be blown away by the actual masterpiece if it is not new to them. Each of these museums have a long list of favorites but I tried to offer just one or two to spark your interest.
While it is crazy to suggest only a few favorites from the world’s most notable museum, there are some works that I always seek out. Raft of the Medusa by Gericault is remarkable not only for its composition and symbolism, but the sheer size of the painting takes your breath away. La Grand Odalisque by Ingres is another one that is much more impactful in person — and everyone loves a good controversial work of art!
Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza
I always recommend clients make time for this museum because it is small and concentrated. Even non-art lovers will know many of the artists in this collection. Personally, I love the Lucian Freud paintings (even though he is a British artist). This museum website does a GREAT job of introducing you to a particular artist.
The best thing about visiting the Vatican Museum virtually is that you can spend the time to appreciate the art and not fight with crowds. While obviously taking time to explore the Sistine Chapel is a no-brainer, I encourage you to check out the Raphael rooms. If you explore virtually with your kids and start to see the stories being told, just wait till you get to see them in person!
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has super high quality images of their collection online, making for a great virtual visit. The Nightwatch by Rembrandt is by far the most notable painting in this museum (although some prefer the significant collection of Vermeers) and the neat thing now is you can follow the conservation project online. The research they are doing is fascinating — you will be blown away by the art and the science! And, this is another work of art where the scale of the actual painting will blow you away in person.
What I loved so much about Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum is seeing the paintings that were inspired by Japanese prints. What makes this virtual tour and website so great is the wonderful information they have on how this connection came to be. It is so well done and informative. They also have plenty of activities for your kids while they school from home.
The Tate Modern museum in London is a fantastic space — so a virtual visit seems hard to justify. But the website is a great resource for art education 101. I particularly like the overview of art movements that explores these categories broadly.
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia: Rethinking Guernica
Pablo Picasso’s Guernica is one of the most fantastic works of art anywhere in the world in my opinion. First and foremost, the sheer size of the work is remarkable. Second, the exhibit does a wonderful job of providing images of Picasso creating the work, so you can see his creative process and how the painting changed as he created it. The online version does a great job with this same information. Guernica is also a work that helps uncover this sad, yet fascinating time in Spanish history.
While we can’t visit Florence in person, taking a virtual tour of the Uffizi Galleries is a great way to tide you over in the meantime. Spring by Botticelli is just one of my favorite paintings and it somehow is an icon for me for the city of Florence. Botticelli is the perfect artist for the coming of Spring.
There is no way to actually identify just a handful of paintings at this museum. But if I had to choose one, I do love Luncheon on the Grass by Manet. The story of this painting being rejected by the 1863 salon is wonderful, and reminds me to think differently about some of today’s modern art that I don’t understand.