As the history of museums is entering its digital age, more and more art institutions are choosing to expand their online services. Most large museums today offer online access to their collections. Other online resources such as videos, podcasts, games, etc, are also quite common. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, virtual tours of museums have become a popular substitute for physically visiting museum exhibitions. As a result, free online museum tours are becoming more and more available to the international audience.
From Paris to Seoul, and from Moscow to Mexico City, this is our list of 18 free online museum tours. For additional online art experiences, don’t forget to check our 9 Amazing Online Art Resources To Enjoy At Home.
Free Online Museum Tours
1. The Louvre Museum, France
The Louvre’s Petite Gallerie offers virtual tours in the famous museum of Paris. This is the best way to explore the architecture, the exhibits, and the history of France’s leading museum without leaving the comfort of your home.
You can also watch 800 Years of History, a short documentary on the history of the museum, or a series of YouTube videos offering guided tours. In addition, the Louvre offers a VR experience of the Mona Lisa as well as a closer look at its masterpieces through multiple audiovisual supplements.
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2. Musée d’Orsay, France
Worth exploring is also the research program The digital worlds of Orsay, where historian Pierre Singaravélou offers a new text three times a week on famous or unknown works from the museum’s collection.
3. Rijksmuseum, Netherlands
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is one of the leading museums in Europe offering a rich variety of online resources. At the center of its home services, lies the Rijkstudio, which allows you to dive into the museum’s vast collection of 707,967 works of art.
Take a free online tour of the museum through Google’s Art and Culture project. Worth exploring is also the Discover Masterpieces virtual tour which takes you through the most prized exhibits of the Dutch museum.
Among the museum’s most famous artworks is without a doubt Rembrandt’s Night Watch. The Rijksmuseum offers a virtual tour explaining all the details you need to know about the famous painting.
You can also play Key Challenges, an interactive game set in the museum’s main exhibition.
Rijksmuseum from Home is a series of videos where museum employees share their favorite objects from the collection.
If you are still not satisfied with these tours and resources, then have a look at “10 ways to visit Rijksmuseum without leaving home.”
4. Van Gogh Museum, Netherlands
One of Europe’s most popular attractions, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is a true monument to the life and work of Vincent Van Gogh. Take a full virtual tour of the museum’s exhibition and immerse yourself in the post-impressionist art of Van Gogh.
If you are a fan of the Dutch painter, you should also check out Van Gogh Worldwide, the most complete resource of Van Gogh paintings and archival material.
5. Vatican Museums, Vatican
The Vatican Museums consist of 54 galleries or sale. These received 6 million visitors in 2019 making the Vatican Museums the third largest museum in the world.
You can explore the galleries at the Vatican Museums website. The institution also offers 360 virtual tours of some of its most iconic monuments like the Sistine Chapel and Raphael’s Rooms with painted decoration by Michelangelo and Raphael respectively.
6. Uffizi Galleries, Italy
If you visit the museum’s website you will be able to explore its online collections and take a free virtual tour of its new gallery, as well as other exhibitions like the one on Saint Francis. The Uffizi can also be explored via Google Art and Culture.
7. Reina Sofia, Spain
If you like 20th-century Spanish artists like Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali, then the Reina Sofia in Madrid is the museum for you. However, if Spain is out of your reach, why not check out this virtual tour and the museum’s online resources.
Reina Sofia’s Rethinking Guernica is an online space devoted to material related to Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica. Also, the museum’s Gigapixel is a project offering a selection of hi-resolution artworks by artists like Dali, Miro, Mason, Picasso, Santos, and more.
Other multimedia like podcasts, lectures, and short video documentaries on the Reina Sofia are available here.
8. Acropolis Museum, Greece
The Acropolis Museum is home to the archaeological treasures of the Acropolis of Athens. The museum offers a series of online activities and resources.
You can browse through its collection and discover the history of the Parthenon marbles thanks to the museum’s collaboration with Google Art and Culture.
Also, the museum offers a series of online interactive games that are ideal for young explorers interested in the secrets of classical antiquity.
9. The State Hermitage Museum, Russia
The Hermitage in St Petersburg is one of the richest museums in the world with more than three million items in its collections. The museum’s exhibition includes everything from Egyptian and Greek, to Rennaissance and Modern art.
You can visit all of the museum’s rooms with a virtual tour and experience the Hermitage without wearing your wintertime clothes to go to Russia.
10. Pergamon Museum, Germany
Berlin’s world-famous institution offers a comprehensive range of online and virtual material. You can take a virtual tour of the museum or play around with a 3d model of the Pergamon altar, the jewel of the museum and a marvel of Hellenistic art.
Worth seeing is also the colorful Ishtar Gate from Babylon.
11. British Museum, United Kingdom
The British Museum grew out of the cabinet of curiosities of the British collector Hans Sloane and now includes a massive collection of more than eight million items.
The British Museum also offers other resources like online access to its collections, podcasts, audio tours, videos, and more.
If you are interested in finding more ways to explore the British Museum from the comfort of your home, then you should read this British Museum blog.
12. Tate Britain, United Kingdom
The museum’s website provides audio tours of the museum and various online tours on various themes.
13. National Museum Of Anthropology, Mexico
The National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City is devoted to the history of Mexico’s prehispanic civilizations.
Explore the past of the American continent and take a virtual walk at the museum’s rooms with this free online virtual tour.
14. The Met, U.S.A.
The Metropolitan Museum is another institution that has partnered with Google Arts and Culture to offer free online museum tours to a worldwide audience.
Also on the museum’s website, you will find multiple online resources like The Met 360°, a series of six short videos inviting viewers to virtually experience the Met’s architecture and art.
Worth exploring is also the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History offering more than 1,000 essays on art and global culture using the Met’s collection as a point of reference.
15. MoMA, U.S.A
New York’s leading institution on modern and contemporary art is also offering free online museum tours and resources.
There is a comprehensive virtual tour of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) available on Google Arts and Culture.
Furthermore, the museum has a series of online resources and projects available on its website that allow you to explore its collections and exhibitions. An absolute highlight is the 3D model of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.
16. J. Paul Getty Museum, U.S.A.
Los Angeles is only a second away. Just click here and you will immediately teleport to the virtual tour of the J. Paul Getty Museum.
Take a look at the museum’s website for other online resources and access to its collection.
17. National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, South Korea
Dive into the history of Korean modern art with this virtual tour of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and travel to Seoul without buying a plane ticket.
Don’t forget to check the Online Museum section at the museum’s website which offers interviews with artists and curators, exhibition guides, and more.
18. Museu National, Brazil: A Virtual Tour Against Destruction
Brazil’s National Museum made headlines in 2018 when a good part of its building was destroyed in a fire.
However, thanks to a Google Arts and Culture virtual tour, you can still travel in space and time to take a virtual peek at the museum and its collections before the destruction of 2018.