Lockdown restrictions coupled with the gloomy winter weather make leaving home difficult. But while we may not be able to pop into our favourite high-street shop or dig into brunch at our local café, some of the world’s biggest museums and galleries are bringing their collections to your doorstep. Here’s where to find creative inspiration from your sofa.
While many in the arts have suffered during the coronavirus crisis and its various lockdowns, some institutions have adapted to the so-called “new normal”, putting collections online so you can enjoy their collections from the comfort of your own home. Get lost in virtual tours, mull over online paintings and explore the history of the artists courtesy of some of the world’s biggest names in art.
Like what you see? While many of these online exhibitions are free, you can show your thanks and help support the galleries through donations or by purchasing gifts or artwork from their online shops.
Google Arts and Culture
The Guggenheim, The Met, MoMA and the Musée d’Orsay are just a few of the world’s leading art institutions that have partnered with Google Arts & Culture to provide an online alternative to physical gallery hopping. Take a virtual leap from Asia to America, stopping at renowned points of cultural interest in between or joining a tour without stepping foot outside your home (we love the Banksy showcase). Immersive viewing experiences are often coupled with insightful detail and behind-the-scenes footage.
Don't forget that some of these museums also have their own online services. The Met’s 360 project, for example, provides a mesmerising tour of the breath-taking building designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt, while the Sahel Gallery Guide offers a sensorial experience of the early Sahel epoch.
The Royal Academy
Delivering contemporary art to your living room, The Royal Academy is hosting video tours of exhibitions such as The Loneliness of the Soul (on display until 28 February) which explores the impassioned work of Tracey Emin and her fascination with the work of Edvard Munch, one of the founding fathers of expressionism. Alternatively, learn about Picasso’s experimental use of paper or dwell on the paintings by Belgian artist Léon Spilliaert. The Royal Academy’s 252nd Summer Exhibition is also available to watch online, showcasing the creativity of artists who have persevered through the pandemic.
Hauser & Wirth
The pandemic hasn’t prevented Swiss family-run gallery Hauser & Wirth from virtually sharing the kind of enthralling artwork that captures its popular aesthetic. Renowned artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Sophie Taeuber-Arp and Philip Guston are among the names whose work can be viewed online. Bringing together exhibitions from several locations around the world, Hauser and Wirth’s video tours are accompanied by an in-depth analysis of the overarching themes of the work as well as the background of the creator for a comprehensive viewing experience. Featuring paintings, sculptures, landscapes and artificial intelligence, the Hauser & Wirth online gallery will provide an archive of entertainment for hours on end.
Would any hotlist of galleries be complete without mention of this Bankside stalwart? One video tour that has garnered particular attention is that of Andy Warhol’s radical work, informed by curators Gregor Muir and Fiontán Moran. Warhol’s series of poignant work is grounded in his LGBTQI+ identity, his background as an immigrant and his ideas around death and religion. The Tate’s online viewing options will leave you spoilt for choice and present a detailed walk-through of each collection. A more interactive take on admiring art, the viewer can click through each room, scrolling to find out more detail and engaging with the pictures for a curated analysis. Expand your journey beyond the Tate Modern – discover the artworks on display in the Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives too.
The Scottish Gallery
The Scottish Gallery is welcoming patrons to its online display of contemporary art. Currently on display is the sixth solo exhibition of Scottish artist Philip Braham, whose emotive visuals spirit us to the bucolic landscape of his home between the Highlands and the Lowlands. The Scottish Gallery’s scope extends beyond scenic imagery to forthcoming exhibitions on exquisite jewellery and glassware. Its annals are a treasure trove of creative content; virtual reality tours of past collections, a library of images of previous artwork, interviews with the creative geniuses behind them as well as critical appraisals of the artists await.
Japan House London
The Japan House is an easily accessible hub of Japanese culture and tradition. It hosts its past exhibitions online exploring a range of themes from architecture to textiles. Click through images of past exhibitions to understand the work in-depth or alternatively, immerse yourself in a 3D virtual tour. Of particular note is the eight-part exhibition that pays tribute to one of the country’s most distinguished and cherished illustrators, Anno Mitsumasa. For a more whimsical option, delve into the quirks of the ‘Architecture for Dogs’ virtual tour.
Whether you want to learn from the professionals, listen to an expert or take a self-guided tour, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam offers an abundance of resources for those craving a cultural fix. Get up close and personal with historic works of art by way of the museum’s 24/7 access to its coveted collection of period art, including masterpieces by Rembrandt and Johannes Vermeer.
Hero Image: The Met, photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
First image: Musee d'Orsay
Second image: The Scottish Gallery, Philip Braham Closer to Home January 2020, photo courtesy of The Scottish Gallery
Third image: The Japan House, photo courtesy of Lee-Mawdsley
Fourth Image: Leon Spilliaert, The Shipwrecked, 1926. Watercolour, gouache, Indian ink and pen on paper, 54.2 x 75.3 cm. Private collection. Photo: Luc Schrobiltgen
Fifth image: Rijks Museum, photo courtesy of Erik Smits