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Last Updated: Jul 2022

Top 10 Best Virtual Museum Tours & Online Art Gallery

The world's most popular museums are now just a mouse click away thanks to incredible free virtual tours powered by Google Street View technology.

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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a virtual museum tour?+-

A virtual museum tour is an online experience that allows you to explore a museum's exhibits and collections from the comfort of your own home. It typically includes high-quality images or videos of the artwork or artifacts, as well as additional information about the pieces and the history of the museum.

How can I access virtual museum tours?+-

Virtual museum tours can be accessed through a museum's website or through platforms like Google Arts & Culture, which partners with museums and cultural institutions around the world to offer virtual tours of their collections.

Are virtual museum tours free?+-

Many virtual museum tours are free, although some museums may charge a fee for more in-depth or exclusive tours. Additionally, some platforms like Google Arts & Culture may offer additional paid features or content.

Can I interact with the exhibits during a virtual museum tour?+-

While you may not be able to physically touch or interact with the exhibits during a virtual museum tour, many tours offer features like zooming in on details or rotating images to give you a closer look at the artwork or artifacts.

Are virtual museum tours as good as visiting in person?+-

While nothing can replace the experience of visiting a museum in person, virtual museum tours offer a convenient and accessible way to explore a museum's collections from anywhere in the world. They can be a great way to supplement an in-person visit or to explore museums that may be difficult to visit in person due to distance or other constraints.

We find the 10 best options, so you can make informed decisions on tons of products and services.

Free Virtual Museum Tours: Expand Your Horizons Without Leaving Home

Have you ever wanted to visit the Louvre in Paris or travel to Holland to see the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh?  Is world-class art part of your blood but you are far away from the originals? Now you and your family can take a firsthand look at world masterpieces, ancient artifacts, and myriad educational exhibits without having to brave the lines and, of course, the dangers of the current health crisis.

Virtual Museums: The Finer Strokes 

Within the past several years, more than a thousand museums and cultural institutions worldwide have partnered with Google to make at least part of their collections accessible online. Now you can view thousands of paintings, sculptures, installations and new work online – many in minute detail – as well as explore the museums themselves . 

What is a virtual museum tour?

A virtual museum tour is an online experience that allows you to explore a museum's exhibits and collections from the comfort of your own home. It typically includes high-quality images or videos of the artwork or artifacts, as well as additional information about the pieces and the history of the museum.

what should you be looking for in a free virtual museum tour? 

  • Google Arts & Culture Collection -  Museums have been offering select online collections for many years, but only recently has Google entered the fray, offering a more easily accessible and searchable method of viewing items on exhibit. 
    Beyond improved search functions, the advantages the Google Arts & Culture portal offers include the ability to enlarge pieces to see extreme detail at a high resolution, information on each item (which is always in English, unlike some of the museum sites that are in different countries), and searches that display results from all of the various museums taking part in the program. You can search by artist, time period, style and even color, or you can search for a specific institution.
  • Virtual Museums = 360 Degree Views - The same technology which powers Google Street View, allowing users to see panoramic views of neighborhoods worldwide, has been taken indoors to some of the world's top museums. However, filming all of the locations and museum pieces from multiple angles is a time-consuming process that requires vast resources, and therefore not every museum offers the same scope of 360 views. Some of the virtual museums will give you just a small look at what their grounds look like, while others offer you to roam freely, giving more of a feeling of what it's actually like to be there.
  • Expanded Online Collections - Prior to the advent of the panoramic style virtual tours that Google Arts & Culture offers today, many of the top museums displayed online collections on their own websites. Some of these museums still offer extended online collections to supplement the items they make viewable on Google Arts and Culture. This is a nice addition for those looking to take a deep dive into a particular collection. The pieces are not always displayed at the same quality that Google Arts & Culture offers, but they give you a decent view of the exhibit items.

These 10 Museums Offer Virtual Tours You Can Take on Your Couch

Here’s a look at the 10 most stimulating and beautiful museum tours accessible via your own computer screen:

1. The Louvre

  • Must-see piece/exhibit: Pick up some new French words 
LouvreCredit: Wikimedia Commons

The Louvre is one of the most famous and visited art museums on the planet, and while its online offering may not be as robust as some other museums, you can still view quite a few of its pieces from the comfort of your own home. The museum does not display items on Google Arts & Culture, nor can you see panoramic views on the platform from inside the museum. However, you can virtually explore the grounds of the museum where several impressive statues and pieces of artwork reside. For panoramic views of the museum's interior, you'll have to go to the Louvre's own website where there are a few free virtual museum tours available. However, the navigation is not as seamless as Google's navigation. You can also find a number of items displayed on the Louvre site, however many of the descriptions are in French only.

2. The Museum of Modern Art

  • Must-see piece/exhibit: Augmented-reality view of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”
Museum of Modern ArtCredit: Wikimedia Commons

When it opened in Manhattan in 1929, the MoMA was the world's first ever museum devoted to the modern era. The museum has sought to remain on the cutting edge by offering a large amount of its collection for perusal online. The museum's Google Arts & Culture selection is relatively limited, however its own site is quite extensive, displaying tens of thousands of modern art pieces currently on display at the museum or from past exhibits.

3. The British Museum

  • Must-see piece/exhibit: The Rosetta Stone from ancient Egypt 
The British MuseumCredit: Wikimedia Commons

The British Museum displays objects spanning a period of some 2 million years, from the dawn of human culture to the present. The tour of the museum offers 360 views of thousands of objects as they appear in the halls of the museum, as well as prints of the objects, which can be enlarged and viewed in further detail. In addition to the description of each item that appears on Google Arts & Culture, there is a link to the British Museum’s own website with further details on each piece, including curator’s notes and a description of how each piece was acquired. The British Museum also has a separate online collection, “The Museum of the World,” which is a partnership with the Google Cultural Institute that features pieces from across time and includes audio explanations of the items from British Museum curators.

4. The Uffizi Gallery

  • Must-see piece/exhibit: View Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” from multiple angles with Google Street View
Uffizi GalleryCredit: Wikimedia Commons

This Italian gallery’s virtual tour is a dream for aficionados of renaissance art. It is easily navigable and the hallways of the gallery are plush with statues and paintings. The gallery has relatively few items on Google Arts & Culture, but they are among the world’s most famous works, and there is an impressive amount of information on each piece.

5. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Must-see piece/exhibit: The Christian Dior Ball Gowns exhibit 
The Metropolitan Museum of ArtCredit: Wikimedia Commons

This venerated New York landmark has a very respectable showing on Google Arts & Culture with a virtual tour that lets you walk through the museum's halls as if you were there, and several hundred items on display - from paintings to historical fashion pieces. Many of the items include audio descriptions available through an external link to the museum's own website, which impressively hosts some 450,000 items.

6. The Guggenheim

  • Must-see piece/exhibit: Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today 
GuggenheimCredit: Wikimedia Commons

The Guggenheim doesn't offer a massive number of pieces on Google Arts & Culture, however the pieces it does offer have external links to its own website, where there is an unparalleled amount of information on each. The contemporary artists that are part of the museum's UBS Map Global Art Initiative have contributed video pieces about their art as well. The panoramic views of the museum on Google Arts & Culture give a good representation of what the museum has to offer.

7. The Smithsonian

  • Must-see piece/exhibit: check out the enormous butterfly exhibit 
SmithsonianCredit: Wikimedia Commons

A small number of the Smithsonian Institution's dozens of museums are represented with Google Arts & Culture online museum tours, including the National Portrait Gallery, the American Art Museum, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, the Museum of Natural History and the Freer Sackler Museums of Asian Art. For a 360 panoramic view of the Natural History Museum, you can go directly to the Smithsonian site or Google Arts & Culture. The nature of the Natural History Museum's exhibits is particularly impressive in panoramic view. The American Art Museum is minimally represented on Google Arts & Culture as well, with a minimal 360 tour and only a couple hundred pieces of art. There is a wider number of pieces available on the museum's own website.

8. The Rijksmuseum

  • Must-see piece/exhibit: See one of Van Gogh’s self-portraits up close 
RijksmuseumCredit: Wikimedia Commons

Are you interested in the art of the Netherlands, and the Dutch Golden Age? The Rijksmuseum is not only the preeminent source of such art, it is also the most well represented museum of any kind on Google Arts & Culture. With more than 150,000 items on display, including works by Rembrandt and Vermeer, you can get a full education in Dutch art history from your computer. The Street View navigation of the stunning grounds of the museum is also among the most impressive of any museum. No other museum has embraced the possibilities of Google Arts & Culture more so than the Rijksmuseum.

9. The Van Gogh Museum

  • Must-see piece/exhibit: Vincent Van Gogh’s Love Life 
Van Gogh MuseumCredit: Wikimedia Commons

This Amsterdam museum hosts the largest collection of works from the post-impressionist master. The panoramic views of the museum are good, however the descriptions accompanying the paintings are minimal. The virtual Van Gogh Museum experience is geared more toward those who are familiar with his work than first-timers seeking to learn about his technique and history. There is an external link to the museum’s YouTube page featuring video explanations of some of his most famous works.

10. The Getty Museum

  • Must-see piece/exhibit: Pride at the Getty, a collaborative tribute to the colors of the Pride flag
Getty MuseumCredit: Wikimedia Commons

The virtual exploration of this Los Angeles museum is seemingly endless. Not only are there more than 15,000 items to peruse, the descriptions of the pieces are among the best, and for several items also include audio explanations. The interior 360 degree views of the exhibits are beautiful and expansive. The only complaint you could make is that the panoramic views don't extend outside to the museum's gardens and unparalleled views of the City of Angels.

3 Extra virtual museum tours to continue your art adventure (because it's fun, no?)

  • Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums, Rome
    It may just be that you had always intended to go to Rome and marvel at Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling masterpiece, instead of seeing it endlessly replicated in the media, but you somehow never got round to it. Here you can place yourself in the chapel, which is inside the pope’s official palace residence, and get a more complete impression of how it would be for real. You can even take a tour guide option to wander around the Vatican City and really ramp up the virtual experience. 
    Join the Virtual Tour: museivaticani.va

  • Picasso Museum, Barcelona
    A very uplifting way to bring a piece of Spain into your living room. Picasso was born in Málaga, but he spent many of his formative years in Barcelona, so many of his most important pieces are housed in this museum. A heady virtual stroll takes in works from his Blue and Rose periods, as well as his series of insightful reinterpretations of Velázquez’s Las Meninas. There are separate tours of the place’s pretty, plant-strewn courtyard and the various places where Picasso lived and worked. 
    Join the Virtual Tour: bcn.cat

  • National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul
    One of Korea's popular museums can be accessed from anywhere around the world. Google's virtual tour takes you through six floors of contemporary art from Korea and all over the globe. 
    Join the Virtual Tour: national-museum-of-modern-and-contemporary-art-korea

To see more of Google Arts & Culture's collection of museums, visit its website. There are thousands of museum Street Views on Google as well. Google Arts & Culture also has an online experience for exploring famous historic and cultural heritage sites.

Click Your Way Through the Canon

In recent years, we’ve been forced to tackle accessibility head-on and create new avenues for reaching the outside world. Whether it’s money, time, or health that has kept you from scouting out the world’s most vaunted museums, today’s technology lets you explore the great masterpieces of the world--for free. 

So grab your kids, your partner, or your sketchbook and beret, and click on one of the sites above to enjoy the fruits of thousands of years of human creativity, all from the comforts of your home.

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