The best cure for wanderlust when you can’t travel is to check out virtual options! After all, who could say no to visiting the world’s most famous museums? Thanks to the internet, you can see top-quality galleries, like the Louvre and the Vatican, without having to leave home. Not to mention, all of these online tours are free, too! So, whether you’re quarantining, self-isolating, or just low on travel funds, keep reading for the 25 best virtual museum tours from around the world. Each museum presents a wonderful opportunity to learn and about new cultures and to explore exciting destinations from home. What are you waiting for? Grab your favorite blanket, curl up on your comfiest couch, and get ready to see some of art’s greatest masterpieces.
The Louvre (Paris)
The Louvre is currently the most visited museum in the world, receiving approximately 10 million visitors each year. Especially if you’ve had to postpone a trip to Paris, you’ll want to check out its online tours. Some of the most popular pieces at this museum are the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, The Winged Victory of Samothrace, Liberty Leading the People, and The Raft of the Medusa. I particularly recommend the Closer Look multimedia modules, where curators explain the historical and artistic background of some of the Louvre’s best-known artwork.
Visit the Louvre website here for more information on online tours.
The British Museum (London)
The British Museum offers multiple ways to explore its corridors virtually, including Google Street View and the “History Connected” interactive tour (in collaboration with Google Cultural Institute). The former is a great way to get a feel for the museum, while the latter goes into much more detailed explanations of its contents. The most popular piece on display here is undoubtedly the Rosetta Stone, which allowed scholars to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Click here for the British Museum’s History Connected platform.
The National Gallery (London)
The National Gallery in London possesses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. Luckily, the museum offers three different ways to explore the gallery from the comfort of your home. First, you can appreciate some of the gallery’s Renaissance masterpieces via a Google Street View tour. However, if you’d like an even more immersive experience, you can take the virtual reality tour of the Sainsbury Wing. On your “visit”, don’t miss museum highlights, such as Doge Leonardo Loredan, The Arnolfini Portrait, and The Baptism of Christ. If you’d like to dive in even further, check out the full virtual tour of 18 rooms at the National Gallery.
Go to the National Gallery’s website here for the three virtual tours.
The Vatican Museums (Vatican City)
Everyone knows that the Sistine Chapel is rarely empty. For this reason, the Vatican’s online tours present a rare opportunity to experience its most popular attractions without the crowds! These 360-degree virtual tours cover Raphael’s Rooms, the Sistine Chapel, the New Wing, the Pio Clementino Museum, and more. Therefore, even if you’ve had to cancel your trip to Rome, you can still delight in the amazing collection at the Vatican.
Click here for the 360-degree virtual tours of the Vatican Museums.
The Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam)
The Van Gogh Museum is home to the largest collection of Van Gogh works in the world, including 200 paintings, 400 drawings, and 700 letters. If you’ve always dreamed of visiting, you’ll love the seven-part private video tour the museum created. During this tour, you’ll get a closer look at paintings like The Potato Eaters (1885), The Yellow House (1888), and Sunflowers (1889). Additionally, for in-depth explanations of this artwork, head to Google Arts & Culture.
Enjoy the first part of the private video tour of the Van Gogh Museum here.
The State Hermitage Museum (Saint Petersburg)
The Hermitage Museum is the second-largest art museum in the world, with its pieces amounting to over 3 million items. A collection of this scale certainly merits a virtual visit! Fortunately, the Hermitage Museum has created one of the most detailed online visits possible, where visitors can peruse the main complex, the treasure gallery, exhibition projects, and outdoor views. On your visit, you’ll recognize pieces from artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, El Greco, Rembrandt, and Picasso.
Click here to begin a virtual tour of the Hermitage Museum.
The Rijksmuseum is the largest and most visited museum in the Netherlands, with over 8,000 objects on display. With the new “Masterpieces Up Close” tour, visitors can see some of its most celebrated pieces via an online platform. Highlights include Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, and Asselijn’s The Threatened Swan.
Begin the “Masterpieces Up Close” tour of the Rijksmuseum here.
Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum (Madrid)
The Thyssen Museum is located within Madrid’s “Golden Triangle of Art”, along with the Prado and the Reina Sofia galleries. This particular art collection encompasses almost 1000 paintings spanning from the 13th to the 20th centuries. As far as its virtual offerings, the Thyssen has created some of the most comprehensive online tours–which you can access via desktop, mobile device, or even with virtual reality glasses! Immerse yourself amongst masterpieces by Duccio, Carpaccio, Dürer, Caravaggio, Rubens, Sargent, and more.
Visit the Thyssen’s website here to view all options for free virtual tours.
Uffizi Gallery (Florence)
The Medici family’s prestigious art collection formed the base for the Uffizi Gallery, considered one of the first modern museums. Without a doubt, the Uffizi is one of the most popular attractions in Florence. Thanks to a recent initiative, visitors can now take a virtual tour of the museum’s new halls, which were restored and then opened in 2019. On the tour, you can spot some of the most important Venetian paintings from the 1500s. For example, you can find Venus of Urbino in its own room, Bronzino’s portraits of the Medici family, and Commodi’s Fall of the Rebel Angels.
Tour the 14 new rooms at the Uffizi Gallery here.
National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.)
The National Gallery of Art is considered to be one of the greatest museums in the United States. Thankfully, we can still visit some of its many corridors from the comfort of homes! Right now, there are three different virtual tours available: True to Nature, Degas at the Opéra, and Raphael and His Circle. On the first tour, you’ll explore important works within open-air painting in Europe from 1780-1870. The next tour is fully dedicated to Edgar Degas’s fascination with the Opéra during 19th-century Paris. Finally, the Raphael virtual tour celebrates one of the world’s greatest figures in art, marking the 500th anniversary of his death.
Follow this link to begin the True to Nature tour, click here for the Degas at the Opéra tour, or begin the Raphael and His Circle tour here.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (Washington, D.C.)
The National Museum of Natural History’s collection contains over 145 million specimens, making it the largest natural history collection in the world. The museum is currently working on adding narrated virtual tours. Although there are only a few of these tours available on the website at the moment, I highly recommend checking them out. Moreover, to explore more of the museum on your own, you can take self-guided, room-by-room tours here. With this option, you can navigate through the current, permanent, and even past exhibitions to discover the museum’s specimens, artifacts, and remains.
Head to the National Museum of Natural History’s website here to begin your tour.
MoMA (New York City)
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is home to an incredible collection of modern and contemporary art. Some of its most celebrated pieces include The Starry Night, The Persistence of Memory, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, and The Sleeping Gypsy, among countless others. There are two main options to visit MoMA virtually: via Google Arts & Culture or during one of the museum’s Virtual Views on selected Thursdays.
Check out MoMA’s past Virtual Views here.
Tate Britain (London)
Tate Britain is one of the largest museums in the U.K., holding the national collection of British art from 1500 to the present day. The rooms at Tate are arranged chronologically, showing off the country’s greatest artists by decade. In the Tate virtual tour, visitors can check out notable pieces of art, such as Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais, The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse, and Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by John Singer Sargent.
Explore Tate Britain’s collaboration with Google Arts & Culture here.
Frida Kahlo Museum (Mexico City)
The Frida Kahlo Museum is dedicated to the life and work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Interestingly, the museum is located within the building where Kahlo spent her childhood, lived with her husband Diego Rivera, and even where she died. Within the home’s ten rooms, you can appreciate minor works by Kahlo, as well as by Diego Rivera. Additionally, you’ll find personal mementos, pre-Hispanic artifacts, and Frida and Diego’s collection of Mexican folk art.
Click here to visit Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul and begin your tour.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)
The Met is the largest museum in the United States, housing over two million works in its permanent collection. Although its virtual offerings are slightly more limited, you can explore some sections of the museum with the Met 360° Project. This series of six short videos allows you to visit the Great Hall, the Cloisters, the Temple of Dendur, the Breuer, the Charles Engelhard Court, and the Arms and Armor Galleries.
Learn more about the Met 360° Project here.
J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles)
This museum in L.A. actually began on-site at J. Paul Getty’s Malibu villa, and it has expanded today into two campuses: the Getty Center and the original Getty Villa. The paintings collection holds over 400 European paintings from notable artists, such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Jacques‑Louis David, Monet, and Degas. Some of the highlights to see are Orazio Gentileschi’s Danaë, Turner’s Modern Rome, Manet’s Jeanne (Spring), and Van Gogh’s Irises. The Getty’s virtual tour in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture allows you to explore these paintings while explaining their cultural importance. Furthermore, the museum offers other ways to experience the Getty exhibitions from home here.
Start your virtual tour of the Getty Museum here.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York City)
The Guggenheim Museum features mainly art from the modern and contemporary periods and began as an assemblage of several private collections. For example, Solomon R. Guggenheim gifted 600 artworks to the museum between 1937 and 1949. On a virtual tour, you can take a self-guided walk through the Guggenheim’s corridors. Additionally, you can listen to the museum’s audio guide, created in collaboration with the podcast 99% Invisible.
Check out the Guggenheim’s online virtual tour in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture here.
National Museum of Anthropology (Mexico City)
The National Museum of Anthropology is the largest and most visited museum in Mexico. Its collection contains archaeological and anthropological artifacts from Mexico’s pre-Columbian era, which are of significant importance in maintaining the country’s cultural and indigenous heritage. During a virtual tour, you can view items such as the Stone of the Sun and Pakal’s jade death mask.
Begin your virtual tour of the National Museum of Anthropology here.
Pergamon Museum (Berlin)
The Pergamon Museum is located in Berlin’s historic center on Museum Island. Albeit located in Germany, its exhibitions focus on the Middle East and Greek and Roman antiquity. For instance, the most important piece here is likely the famous Pergamon Altar, built in the first half of the 2nd century BC. Luckily, the museum’s virtual tour allows you to see its many items up-close, even though the building itself is closed for the time being.
Click here to begin a virtual tour of the Pergamon Museum.
MASP (São Paulo)
The São Paulo Museum of Art is the first museum on this list to be located in South America. It was founded in 1947 as Brazil’s “first modern museum”. The MASP possesses a considerable collection of European art–the finest in Latin America–as well as Brazilian art, prints, and drawings, and a small collection of Asian art. You can experience some of the museum’s exhibitions via Google Arts & Culture on a virtual tour. For example, learn more about art from Italy, Brazil, and France with the MASP’s online exhibits.
Take your own virtual tour of the São Paulo Museum of Art here.
Musée d’Orsay (Paris)
The Musée d’Orsay is housed in a former railway station, which now holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914. In fact, this collection is the largest in the world of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces. Among the paintings collection, this museum features celebrated artists, such as Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, and Van Gogh. On the virtual tour, you can have a 360° view of the museum’s rooms as well as a closer look at many famous pieces of art.
Discover the Musée d’Orsay virtual tour here.
Picasso Museum (Barcelona)
Although there are now various museums dedicated to Pablo Picasso, the Museu Picasso in Barcelona was actually the first. It holds 4,251 works by the painter and even includes two of his first major works: The First Communion (1896), and Science and Charity (1897). On the Picasso Museum’s virtual tours, you can take a stroll around the rooms to see Pablo’s finest works, visit the beautiful courtyards, and even learn about the artist’s personal relationship with Barcelona.
Check out the Picasso Museum’s virtual tour options here.
Dalí Theatre-Museum (Figueres)
The Dalí Theatre-Museum is dedicated to the Spanish surrealist artist, Salvador Dalí. Located in his hometown of Figueres, it displays the largest collection of works by the artist as well as his personal collection. Some of the most important Dalí paintings you’ll find here include Basket of Bread (1945), Galatea of the Spheres (1952), and The Swallow’s Tail (1983). On the museum’s virtual tour, visitors explore the rooms and learn details on the artwork by clicking on the circles!
Begin your free virtual tour of the Dalí Theatre-Museum here.
The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago)
The Art Institute of Chicago is the second-largest art museum in the United States, with nearly 300,000 works of art in its permanent collection. No matter where you are, the museum offers a variety of ways to explore its exhibitions from home. For example, on the Art Institute Essentials tour, you can learn more about the museum’s most famous pieces of art from the experts. You’ll dive into the historical context of Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, Van Gogh’s The Bedroom, and Caillebotte’s Paris Street; Rainy Day. Additionally, you can get up and close with 30 iconic items on the Interactive Features platform.
For more information on the Art Institute’s virtual visit options, click here.
Natural History Museum (London)
The Natural History Museum is located on Exhibition Road in London and contains approximately 80 million items. It is particularly recognized for its exhibition of dinosaur skeletons and as the home to specimens collected by Charles Darwin. Fortunately, there are multiple ways you can interact with the museum from home. For instance, explore the life of a blue whale, take an audio-guided tour of Hintze Hall, or go on a full virtual tour of the museum via Google Arts & Culture.
Read the Natural History Museum’s 13 ways to explore from home here.