Be transported by immersive virtual experiences
Museums are closed and concerts are cancelled, but art is resilient. It persists and thrives in unlikely circumstances, like flowers growing up through the pavement. You can find it anywhere if you look.
And you don’t even need to look hard right now, because venerated cultural institutions everywhere are offering world-class tours and performances to online viewers. No ticket queues or overpriced bottles of water required.
All you need is a screen (and sometimes a pair of headphones) to access a practically endless digital archive of spectacular art. And if you want to pair a glass of wine with your cultural foray, rest assured that no virtual security guards will reprimand you.
Countless museums and galleries provide online access to their collections, with experiences ranging from a selection of works to full-scale virtual tours. More than 2,500 institutions from around the world have partnered with Google Arts & Culture, including some of the largest and most renowned galleries in the world, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Musee d’Orsay, and the Tate Modern.
Visitors can browse collections, tour current exhibitions, and virtually wander through the gallery spaces. You can also browse by artist. If you find the dizzying array of options overwhelming, start with a few of our favorites: the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, and the Faces of Frida exhibition, which features more than 800 works by the artist, drawn from more than 25 collections across the world.
If you’d prefer to sit back and relax on your creative journey, sink into this five-hour, single-shot tour of the St Petersburg State Hermitage Museum, the second-largest museum in the world. Skip ahead to the three-hour mark to see a contemporary ballet performance from the Hermitage Theatre.
Cap off your visual feast with an espresso shot of contemporary art from the Broad Museum in LA, which is curating #TheBroadFromHome. This interactive, multidisciplinary series is releasing new activities and exhibitions weekly, but you can start by exploring the Infinite Drone. It pairs aural compositions with the Broad’s most popular permanent exhibit, Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Room, to create a mesmerizing and luminous sound bath.
Delights abound for the ears as well as the eyes, as digital concert halls and opera houses open their doors to the public. The Berlin Philharmonic, one of the greatest orchestras in the world, is offering access to recordings of more than 600 concerts. And the Met Opera in New York is streaming a different opera each night, from Rossini and Berlioz to John Adams.
You can also support smaller institutions and individual creators through the Social Distancing Festival, an online creative community providing digital access to an array of cancelled performances and projects from Amsterdam to South Africa. Dance aficionados can savor The Fiddle and the Drum, an original work co-created and scored by Joni Mitchell for the Alberta Ballet.
Finally, stretch your legs beyond the gallery walls and theatre seats. Google comes through again with captivating 360° tours of incredible cultural and historic sites. Tour the temples of Angkor Wat, then walk through the ancient city of Petra. Or venture on a hike through 31 of the US National Parks, like Carlsbad Caverns or the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes.
Dip your toes into the virtual dives offered by the US National Marine Service, which provide panoramic views of underwater habitats. Everyone has their own rituals for unwinding during these strange and stressful times, but here is one surprising source of comfort and serenity: swimming with the sea lions. No wetsuit required.