20 World-Famous Art and History Museums You Can Explore Virtually

With everyone locked down at home, grieving the vacations we heartbreakingly cancelled, here’s something to help you feed the travel bug inside you. explore museums you have always dreamed of visiting, all from the safety of your own home. check out this list of virtual museums to visit online.

I know, you’re bored. And most of all, lamenting the fact that you won’t be traveling anywhere anytime soon. Well, it doesn’t have to be that way! Did you know that so many museums and historically significant sites around the around are accessible through virtual platforms. Google Arts and Culture, as well as many museums independently, have made it possible to go from Russia to Spain to Australia, all in a matter of clicks.

While it’s not the exact same thing, it’s still pretty amazing to see up close (through your computer screen, of course) the artifacts and art works online. Plus, you might even get to see some exhibits that you missed out on with the added benefit of avoiding the museum crowds and the closing times. And who wouldn’t wanna take up that deal?

American Museum of Natural History

New York, United States of America
No outbreak can stop you now from seeing the giant blue whale that looms over the Hall of Ocean Life. Trust us, it still looks pretty darn huge even virtually! Don’t miss out on Lucy, a 3.2 million year old skeleton of one of our earliest ancestors, still looking great for her age. And if skeletons intrigue you, head over to the dinosaur halls to see our fossilized Tricerotops and T-rex friends. While you might not catch Teddy Roosevelt come to life, you will be left amazed with how informative and massive this museum is. Just roam around from hall to hall and you’ll be able to enter several that aren’t indicated in the strip on the bottom of the page.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Washington, D.C., United States of America
While history may not come to life in the Smithsonian, it still holds holds the crown for the most visited natural history museum in the world! It’s best to start at the entrance, like you would, and tour the virtual halls one by one. Don’t miss the brilliant Hall of Human Origins, the Ocean Hall, the Hall of Mammals, the Hope Diamond as well as the entire collection of gems and minerals, bones, mummies and more.

The British Museum

London, United Kingdom
Hopping across the pond to London, you’ll love the British Museum’s endless halls packed with artifacts would normally leave your feet sore, but you don’t have to worry about that now. Don’t miss some of the main attractions on the ground floor like the Rosetta Stone and the Egyptian galleries to its left and right, an original Easter Island ancestor statue or the hall of Assyrian city Nimrud. For a truly immersive experience, start with the Rosette Stone and scroll your way around all the rooms. You also have access to all the marvels on the upper floor such as the beautiful Portland Vase, cat mummies from Ancient Egypt (as well as human ones) or the Lewis Chessmen. Again, for a truly immersive experience, start with room 40 where the chessman are, and make your way around all around the upper floors, exploring each room.

As if that’s not enough, the British Museum also displays a virtual tour through the Ancient Mayan City of Tikal in Guatemala through their Google Arts and Culture page.

The Natural History Museum

London, United Kingdom
Another British attraction not to be missed is the Natural History Museum, with the architectural grandness of Hintze Hall (seriously, take a look up and around before you start virtually strolling off) where stands the beloved Dippy the Diplodocus (who’s off on the UK-wide tour at the moment), and the awesome metallic globe that leads you to the Earth Hall. Scroll through the halls, and while you can’t access as many rooms as you can in some of the other museums here, it’s still a fun and education experience for your lockdown.

Both The British Museum and The Natural History Museum have been featured on our list of free museums in London that you can save for post-quarantine days.

The Louvre

Paris, France
Did you know the Louvre was once a fortress? Walk the remains of Louvre’s original moat, or the halls of the Petite Galerie lined with artworks from the Renaissance period under gallery’s ongoing exhibition, “The Advent of the Artist”. And don’t miss the fantastic collection of antiquities and artifacts from Ancient Egypt.

Musée d’Orsay

Paris, France
Paris has no shortage of world-class museums, but if theres one more that you don’t wanna miss virtually exploring, it’s this. Built inside the former Orsay Railway Station, the building itself is a beautiful work of art. However, within it, it houses one of the largest collections of famous artworks and impressionist paintings, like the works of van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Gaugin, Cézanne are all spread out throughout the museum. You’ll also find famous peices like Whistler’s Mother by James McNeill Whistler housed at the museum.

The Vatican Museums

Vatican City
The Vatican Museums are a collection of art and sculpture museums displaying breathtaking architecture and works of art like the not-to-be-missed Sistine Chapel (which is as awe-inspiring virtually as ever), the mesmerizing frescoes in the Raphael Rooms, and more beautiful frescoes and art in the Niccoline Chapel, as well as many others.

Uffizi Gallery

Florence, Italy
One of the world’s top and oldest art galleries, housing some of the greatest works from the world’s best-known Renaissance artists like The Annunciation and The Baptism of Christ by Leonardo da Vinci (two of the few confirmed da Vinci pieces), The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, Madonna of Goldfinch and other works of Raphael, Michelangelo and Rembrandt. Check out the museum website to find out about the most interesting works in their collection.

Acropolis Museum

Athens, Greece
One of the best archeological museums, documenting the history of the Acropolis through hundreds of artifacts, sculptures and other archeological finds. While you can’t really satisfy those gyro cravings, this Google Arts and Culture is a great alternative for exploring the major finds in beautiful Ancient Greece.

Rijksmuseum

Amsterdam, Netherlands
One of the best known art museums in the world, the Rijjsmuseum boasts over a million historically significant artworks, including works by prominent artists like Rembrandt and his famous piece The Night Watch, Vermeer and van Gogh. And before you attempt to pronounce and inevitably butcher the name, it’s pronounced ‘Rikes (like hikes) mu-sayum’. There, now that you can impress your virtual friends with your Dutch skills, just click and start your virtual art history tour.

Van Gogh Museum

Amsterdam, Netherlands
While we’re still in good ol’ Amsterdam, you can’t leave without a trip to it’s second-most popular museum. You don’t need to be an art aficionado to be drawn towards Van Gogh, as there’s something about the painter and his life that evokes intrigue and a sense of connection in many people. Follow Van Gogh’s life through his famous works like The Bedroom, portraits of Agostina Segatori, his neo-impressionist works like the Skull of Skeleton with Burning Cigarette, and of course, everyone’s favorite kitchen art, the famous Sunflowers painting.

Pergamonmuseum

Berlin, Germany
Moving our virtual European tour on to Germany, Pergamonmuseum is Germany’s top visited museum and hosts a wealth of antiquities from the ancient worlds of Greece, Rome, Babylon and the Middle East. The museum is actually an amalgam of three collections on classical antiquities, Islamic art and Ancient Near East. Not to be missed is the Greek Pergamon Alter, which the museum is named after, and considering that it’s under restoration for the next few years, this is a great opportunity to see it! The Ishtar Gate from Ancient Babylon will blow you away, as will the Market Gate of Miletus, or the Aleppo Room from the house of a Christian Syrian merchant (pro tip: try to spot the painting of the Last Supper, straight ahead on the center wall on the right panel)

Belvedere

Vienna, Austria
Heading over the border to Austria, there are few museums that can compare to the beauty of Belvedere, and that’s probably because this gorgeous art museum is part of Belvedere palace. You’re able to visit Lower Belvedere and explore room to room starting with Marble Hall, and then the Gold Cabinet, which is very much true to it’s name, from where you can scroll into the beautiful Marble Gallery and the Hall of Grotesques. You’ll also be able to see the Sala Terrena on Upper Belvedere. Look up, down, side to side because you’ll not want to miss the breathtaking architecture and sculptural glamour this place oozes. If you want still panoramas of the palace, you can see them on the museum website.

Museo Nacional de Antropología

Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico’s most globally known and substantial museum, the National Museum of Archeology houses such a vast collection that in real life, it would take you a couple of visits at least to fully see it all and take it in. But since you’re gonna be plopped on your couch, you can see the entire thing without working a muscle. This museum houses some fantastic artifacts from a legacy of ancient civilizations in Mexico and surrounding areas. Don’t miss some exceptional pieces in the collection like the Piedra del Sol or Moctezuma’s Headdress or the countless artifacts from the Maya and other civilizations. This museum is one to simply virtually tour around and read up the information boards for a fun and informative time.

Museo Larco

Pueblo Libre, Peru
While you’re still in Latin America and learning more about its history, check out the Larco Museum which houses over 5000 years of pre-Columbian history, including a fascinating Erotic art hall featuring pre-Columbian art, gallery of vessels and other artworks, and various other spectacular works with lots of easy-to-read information. Oh, and don’t forget to stroll around the museum garden – in times of quarantine, we all appreciate a virtual stroll in a beautiful garden.

Museu Imperial

Petrópolis, Brazil
If you’ve ever been interested in learning more about the Brazilian Monarchy, check out this gorgeous palace-turned-museum, housing furniture, antiquities and works of art and taking place as the 4th most visited museum in Latin America.

The Israel Museum

Jerusalem, Israel
Hopping onto another continent through the power of virtual travel, we now enter Israel which is the proud host of one of Asia’s top archeology museums. As a matter of fact, Israel takes the crown as having the most museums per capita in the world! Check out some fascinating attractions like the Esther Scrolls, ancient and religious history and art from the Holy Land.

State Hermitage Museum

Saint Petersburg, Russia
As the second largest museum in the world and the third-most visited in Asia, you can bet that this one would knock you off your feat. But as virtual explorers, since we’re not even really there, our feet can remain comfortably propped up on that Ottoman. And as if this museum needed any more titles, it also has the world’s largest collection of artworks! Yes, that’s right, looking at you Louvre. You can tour the main museum complex from their website, by simply selecting the floor you want to see and clicking on ‘Begin the Tour’. You’ll be happy to find helpful information buttons around the virtual museum so you can learn more about the artifacts.

Indian Museum

Kolkata, India
As the 9th oldest museums in the world, and one of the largest museums in Asia-Pacific, it’s packed with ancienty history from the region, such as artifacts from the Bodhgaya and the Gandhara Gallery which showcases sculptures made at the Gandhara School of Art.

National Palace Museum

Taipei, Taiwan
While it’s unfortunate that most well-known East Asian Arts and History museums cannot be virtually travelled, if there’s one you’d want to see it would be this one. And luckily, it’s virtual visitor-friendly! With over 700,000 artifacts and artworks from ancient China, dating back up to 8000 years (!), the National Palace Museum houses one of the largest historical collections of the region. Don’t miss the main attraction of the museum, the Jadeite Cabbage, which if you’re wondering is a cabbage shaped out of jade, you’d be absolutely correct!

Ayesha Bilal
Ayesha Bilal

A 25 year expat, living currently in Turkey, and living my happiest life exploring the world, bit by bit, with my favorite travel buddy, and my partner, Argun. Follow my travel across England on FellowPrimo, and check out delicious recipes and the best spots to grab a bite around the world on HungryByAyesha.

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