For everyone My Favourite Things: The best new virtual tours

  • By Louise Swinn
  • This article was published more than 2 years ago.
  • 9 Dec 2021

Looking for some student ‘excursions’ that don’t involve leaving the classroom? One upside of lockdown has been the expansion of virtual tours, beaming us into zoos, aquariums, museums and galleries around the world.

To whet your appetite for some virtual tours, first check out these incredible photos of collections (whale skulls! butterflies! drawers full of deer mice!) from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

Then check out some of their online exhibitions, including fascinating subjects from things like The Disability Rights Movement, Elephants and Us, to Girlhood (It’s Complicated) and Vote! The Machinery of Democracy.

Next, travel to The Louvre, right in the centre of Paris, where you can explore galleries and rooms, as well as the building’s architecture, and discover artwork through tours like The Body in Movement, Power Plays, The Advent of the Artist, and many more.

Now to London, where the British Museum gives you the ability to scroll a timeline that goes back centuries, choose a continent, and then choose subjects of interest (eg: art and design, living and dying, power and identity).

Heading now to Amsterdam, have a close look at the genius of the Dutch Masters, including Rembrandt and Van Gogh, at the Rijksmuseum.

While in Amsterdam, head to the Anne Frank House for a 360-degree tour of the house and a virtual reality tour of the secret annex where Anne and her family hid for more than two years.

Onto the Georgia Aquarium where you should prepare to be mesmerised watching all the rays and fish, big and small, on the live cam.

Now to Edinburgh Zoo, where the live penguin cam would melt the most hardened of hearts – the penguins make for compulsive viewing even when they are just sleeping standing up, fluffy heads tucked in.

Then onto the Monterey Bay Aquarium where a prerecord of a sea otter cam shows them interacting with each other and staff, then lying on their backs to feed and have their tummies rubbed.

Time to sharpen the mind with some history, so off to Taipei where the National Palace Museum has a featured tour, or you can make your own virtual tour around the 700,000 Chinese artefacts that date as far back as 8,000 years.

Heading now to Basque Country, Spain, explore everything in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, which itself was designed by Frank Gehry, and includes works from the likes of Mark Rothko, and, famously, Maman by Louise Bourgeois.

Over at the Vatican, you don’t have to be religious to appreciate Michelangelo’s stunning ceiling in the Sistine Chapel.

Now to Greece where the Acropolis Museum has digitised many of its statues and marble murals, and where you can take in the panoramic views of Athens on the Street View feature.

Onto Seoul in South Korea where the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art has a virtual tour of its stunning six floors of internationally acclaimed contemporary art.

Time to head to Barcelona where the Picasso Museum will take you through an interactive map on a timeline of the famous artist’s upbringing, his first studios, and the bars he frequented, and a virtual tour of the museum’s courtyards and architecture.

Now to Takarazuka in Japan, where the virtual tour of the Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum is a dream for all fans of anime and Japanese manga.

Before returning home, stop off in New Zealand where the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki’s virtual tour showcases more than 15,000 works from New Zealand and Pacific artists alongside art from Europe, art from the Middle Ages, and contemporary art.

Time to head back home, where the Zoos Victoria live cams show otters, penguins, snow leopards, giraffes and zebras, and the Werribee Open Range Zoo shows just how little lions actually do every day. All of this and more will be waiting for us.

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