Turn social distance into a cultural rendezvous

Take a virtual wander through these top museums (and be inspired to curate your own online art exhibition).

Just like your digital library is open 24/7, lots of world famous museums have made their collections available virtually so you can get up close to many wonderful works of art.

The Louvre Musée du Louvre, France

Let’s start with the world's largest art museum which clocked a staggering 9.6 million visitors last year. From my own visit about 20 years ago, the two main things I remember are how huge the queues were and how small (and totally stunning) the Mona Lisa really is. Explore some of their treasures such as the Rembrandt in the Petite Galerie or the artefacts in the Egyptian antiquities. 

Salvador Dalí Museum aka The Dalí, USA 

If things are feeling a bit surreal these days, maybe a dose of Dalí can transform your mood. The Salvador Dalí Museum is situated in Florida on a beautiful beachfront. The building itself is worth a look and includes 1062 triangular glass panels, dubbed ‘The Enigma’. Explore Dalí Museum 360.

Dalí himself is buried in a crypt below the stage of the The Dalí Theatre and Museum in his hometown of Figueres in Catalonia, Spain.

There is also a free Dalí Museum App with themed and virtual tours such as the Permanent Collection Tour or the Dali Decoded tour.  Download Dalí Museum App on iOS or Google play.

Musei Vaticani, Italy

The Vatican Museum offers virtual tours of several of its collections including the Sistine Chapel, Raphael Rooms and Niccoline Chapel. Make sure not to strain your neck when you look up to the Sistine Chapel’s stunning ceiling!

Van Gogh Museum, Netherlands

Vincent Van Gogh is one of my favourite artists and not because I’d often ride past the Van Gogh Museum as a student, or because saying ‘Van Gogh’ in Dutch helps if that dry scone is a bit stuck in your throat.

The largest Van Gogh collection in the world – 600 artworks including many varieties of Sunflowers and 700 letters – is housed in this Amsterdam museum and can be viewed via a virtual guided tour

Van Gogh’s letters give an intimate and insightful look inside the artist's head. One of his quotes ‘Accept a hearty handshake in thought, and believe me ever’ rings close to home (Letter to his brother Theo, 4 December 1877). Read his letter to Theo.

Guggenheim Museum and Museum of Modern Art, USA

The MoMa and Guggenheim are two of over 500 museums and galleries partnered with Google Arts & Culture offering an interactive experience of the gallery space. Both museums house some of the contemporary art world's most famous pieces. Take a look at MOMA’s collection and see if you can discover Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night or Claude Monet's Water Lilies.

Or get VR access to the entire contemporary arts collection at The Guggenheim and use the Street View feature to tour any of it’s stunning galleries and architecture.

There is plenty to explore from our own backyard too.

Canterbury Museum, Aotearoa New Zealand

Closer to home, we can browse some fabulous online exhibitions like Selling the Dream, a collection of world-class tourism posters promoting New Zealand, which featured at the Canterbury Museum a few years ago.

You can also check out Canterbury Museum’s online collections, such as the 2010/2011 Earthquake Collection and the Rewi Alley Collection.

University of Otago Library, Aotearoa New Zealand

It is also worthwhile checking out the University of Otago Library’s Special Collections as many are available online, from He tirohanga ki muri - A view of the Past to Pulp Fiction. 

Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, Aotearoa New Zealand

Last but not least, you can now also curate your own collection from all your favourite bits of one of New Zealand's most important public art collections.

Christchurch Art Gallery has created My Gallery, where you can add your favourite artworks, blogs and multimedia items from around the Gallery’s site. I had a go and put together my first collection of 20 mainly landscapes, all reminding me of places I've visited, from Akaroa to Karamea. It is called The Beautiful Land and having my own collection accessible in one place gives me comfort. I'll be an armchair traveller until we can all go out again to explore the real thing. 

Want even more?

Google Arts and Culture has created a top ten list of museums to explore, including the British Museum and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

You can also search online museum collections by country, including our own Te Papa, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Browse museums anywhere on Google's worldmap

If all this cultural roving has sparked your creativity, there are plenty of fabulous free online courses being made available daily. Courses like ‘Fashion as Design’ or ‘What is Contemporary Art’ are some of the examples developed by experts at the Museum of Modern Art.

And of course your own library has excellent online resources on arts, artists and art reference works. Oxford Art Online includes over 200,000 articles that span ancient to contemporary art and architecture, as well as over 19,000 images of works of art, structures, plans, and artist signatures.

Find New Zealand Artists is another extensive eResource with information on over 18,000 artists. This joint project by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū would be the perfect starting point if you would like to find out more about one of the many talented artists produced in our own Aotearoa, past or present.

Auahatanga | Creativity, Level 4, Tūranga

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