Going Stir Crazy? Tour These Virtual Museums

Feel like you're going stir crazy? You’re not alone. Staying inside all day, avoiding public places like restaurants and movie theaters, is completely necessary for the health of our community. But it's also incredibly boring. One of the things I have missed the most since the pandemic began is visiting museums. Not only is it a great way to learn about art, culture, science, and history, but it can also help us feel more inspired and connected with the world. And let's face it — after hours of Netflix and scrolling through social media —  we could all use a little more connection these days. Here are some virtual museums you can tour from the comfort (and safety) of your own couch. 

One of the most extensive virtual tours is provided by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural Science. This 360 degree tour follows a Google street view style and provides high resolution photos of its exhibitions. Explore hours of educational displays without the crowds, noise, or hassle of travelling to Washington DC. My personal favorite part is the Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals — home to some of the most beautiful and impressive stones in the country.

Those looking for more artistic inspiration may be interested in the 360 degree project available at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art. The swooping shots and ambient music are an enchanting distraction from the dull life in quarantine. In addition, there are many other online features and digitized collections available for a more educational viewing experience. 

Another must-see virtual tour, and a personal favorite of the author, comes from The Louvre. The exceptional photo quality provides all the grandeur of an in-person visit.  Centuries worth of rich art history from the cultural hub of Europe are conveniently at your fingertips. Then, travel to Rome and tour the Vatican City Museums without leaving your living room. This immersive collection showcases the fascinating, timeless riches of the Catholic world. 

History lovers will be interested to explore the online collection of the Anne Frank museum and tour the secret annex where her family hid. I like how this tour recreated the living conditions and included facts about day-to-day life in hiding. It's a sobering tour, though it left me feeling reflective, hopeful, and most of all, grateful. If this inspiring girl can stay optimistic in such cramped and terrifying circumstances, I’m certain we can all survive the daily boredom of quarantine.

Finally, check out the Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park in Vietnam. While not technically a museum, this virtual tour is simply too beautiful to miss out on. What better way to explore the world's largest cave and learn a bit about its history than with a high resolution virtual tour? I recommend headphones for this one — the environmental noises add a lot to the immersion.

These tours provide a great escape from the daily monotony of social isolation. Share them with your roommates for renewed conversation topics, or use them for inspiration to create your own art. Someday soon it will once again be safe enough to travel and visit these museums in person. Until then, virtual tours provide a convenient immersion in culture and education.