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The iconic Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain has opened its doors to the public via virtual online tours, along with many other world-famous museums. Freeuse photos 

Museums open their doors virtually

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Museums nationally and internationally were some of the first places to shutter their doors when COVID-19 emerged — and for good reason, most of these bastions of the arts are in the world’s largest cities. But many of these fine art institutions used the social distancing measures put in place as an opportunity to open their doors virtually via online tours and collections.

So for the time being, the great works of art are out of reach, but they can still be seen — without the queues or ticket prices.

Art lovers can now view thousands of paintings, sculptures, installations, artist talks and explore countless museums online. So, take a minute, turn your computer or tablet to full-screen mode and start an art adventure.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) has made its collections and selected exhibitions, films, art-making activities, recorded lectures, artist’s talks and more available online via Google Arts and Culture.

Established in 1900, the MFAH is the largest cultural institution in the region. The majority of the museum's presentations take place on its main campus, which is located in the heart of Houston's Museum District and comprises the Audrey Jones Beck Building, the Caroline Wiess Law Building, the Glassell School of Art and the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden.

MFAH said it was founded on a simple belief: that art is for everyone.

“Although our doors may be temporarily closed, we are working to share inspiring MFAH experiences in creative and meaningful ways,” a statement from the museum said.

Access the MFAH's website for virtual tours, art collections, streaming films, art-making activities, artist’s talks and more.

Guggenheim, Bilbao

The Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain is in and of itself a piece of modern art designed with sculptured titanium and steel by Frank Gehry. It is perhaps one of the world’s most distinctive art spaces and now it is accessible for free virtual tours online. The interactive tour takes viewers around its collection of post-war American and European painting and sculpture as well as some of its outdoor views. Go to the Guggenheim's website to access the online tour.

J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

The J. Paul Getty Museum has more than 6,000 years worth of creative treasures housed inside of it and has long been considered one of the best places for art on the west coast. From  Van Gogh’s “Irises” and Renoir’s “La Promenade” to neolithic clay figures, all of its collection is accesible on the museum’s virtual tour. Google Arts and Culture offers a “museum view” tool to look inside gallery spaces, with clickable artworks presenting further information. The Getty Museum is also available for virtual tour at Xplorit.

Vatican Museums, Rome

With soaring vaulted ceilings bespeckled with intricate murals and ornate tapestries, the Vatican’s rich sites are now all available online through virtual tours. Viewers may want to point their cursors skyward to view the immense murals when exploring the seven spaces in the museum’s virtual tour — including the Sistine Chapel. Go to the Vatican's website to access the virtual tours.

The Natural History Museum of London is home to some 80 million life and earth science specimens within five main collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology.

Natural History Museum, London

Get lost in the vast corridors of the Natural History Museum in London. The museum is home to life and earth science specimens comprising some 80 million items within five main collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology. The museum is the epicenter of research specialising in taxonomy, identification and conservation. Given the age of the institution, many of the collections have great historical as well as scientific value, inclduing specimens collected by Charles Darwin. Go to Google Art & Culture to access the collections and virtual tours.

Musée d’Orsay, Paris

The Musée d’Orsay sits in the center of Paris on the banks of the Seine, just opposite the Tuileries Gardens. The museum was installed in the former Orsay railway station, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 — making the building itself a work of art. The Musee d'Orsay displays collections of art from the period 1848 to 1914, including Cézanne, Monet and other French masters. Access the Musee d'Orsay via Google Arts & Culture.

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