Around the world, scores of museums, theatres and galleries have shuttered to minimise the spread of the coronavirus. At the same time, people are at staying indoors, self-isolating or working from home to avoid transmission of the disease. For those who are restless or anxious, a dose of art and culture can help.
Over the years, Google Arts & Culture has put together virtual tours of thousands of museums, galleries and cultural sites for people to browse through from the comfort of their couch or desk. Art institutions are also offering picture galleries of their collections online paired with curatorial or insight for visitors to understand the works more.
Here are some ways to take in some beauty in the midst of the temporary shutdowns.
Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah
Featuring a major collection of modern Arab artworks, the Barjeel Art Foundation’s exhibition traces significant art movements from the region. There’s a diverse list of artists from Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon, including Dia Azzawi, Samir Rafi and Huguette Caland.
British Museum, London
Take a virtual walkthrough of the museum's artefacts from all over the world, including Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. Visitors can click through the various objects in their collection, read about its history and listen to audio recordings by curators and experts discussing the works.
Etihad Museum, Dubai
Learn about the heritage and history of the UAE with a virtual walkthrough of the Etihad Museum, where family histories of the country's leaders and their personal artefacts are included in the collection. Dubai 360 also has a "tour mode" option that automatically moves you through the space.
Dubai Museum, Dubai
Filled with dioramas that show everyday life in the emirates before the discovery of oil, the museum gives visitors the feeling of stepping back in time. Traditional objects and artefacts trace Dubai's history of trade and commerce, as well as explore the development of customs such as falconry.
Musee d’Orsay, Paris
Zoom in on Vincent van Gogh’s self-portraits and a take a virtual tour of the gallery rooms of this Paris museum, which has the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art in the world. Works by artists such as Monet, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne and Degas are part of their permanent collection.
Encompassing 800 years of Dutch art and history in its collections, Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum has well-known works such as Vermeer's The Milkmaid and Rembrandt's The Night Watch. Google Arts & Culture includes different views of the museum interiors across three floors.
Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum, Abu Dhabi
The museum has recently added sections to explore on its website, including a virtual walkthrough of the exhibition Furusiyya: The Art of Chivalry between East and West, a comparative study of knightly traditions from Islamic and Christian cultures. The online version of the exhibition, which can also be viewed with a VR headset, weaves through the gallery space and highlights artworks of interest in English, Arabic and French.
Louvre Abu Dhabi also has a Make and Play section with online learning tools for children, as well as an updated Art From Home section, which gives a more in-depth look into the museum's collections.
Online collections and works
New Waves: Mohamed Melehi and the Casablanca Art School Archives, Alserkal Art Foundation
Curated by Morad Montazami and Madeleine de Colnet, the show traces a radical art movement that influences arts education in Morocco from the mid-1960s to mid-1970s. One of the movement's most innovative figures, Mohamed Melehi played a significant role in developing postcolonial Moroccan art and Arab Modernist art. In this online presentation, visitors can read about Melehi's life and browse slideshows of his murals, documentary photographs and works in previous exhibitions.
Atassi Foundation, Dubai
With a trans-national goal, the Atassi Foundation does not have a physical space, though it has staged pop-up exhibitions in Dubai. Partnering with Google Arts & Culture, the foundation has shared two of its previous exhibitions in a catalogue-style presentation online: These Personal Revolutions, which highlights some of Syria’s seminal female artists across multiple generations, and Age of New Media, which explores the medium of painting and drawing.
Louvre Museum, Paris
Paris's most-visited cultural sites such as the Louvre Museum, Versailles Palace and Eiffel Tower, have remained closed.
The largest art museum in the world, the Louvre houses masterpieces such as Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Eugene Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People. The museum offers online tours of a few exhibition room and galleries, including their Egyptian Antiquities collection, which has artefacts from the Pharaonic period, and Galerie d'Apollon, a section that is famous for its painted ceilings.
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe
The bold works of Georgia O’Keeffe, dubbed as the ‘Mother of American Modernism’, burst with colour, light and curvilinear forms. Known for her paintings of flowers and desert landscapes, she was a pioneer who flitted between abstraction and figuration.
Abstract works of Mohammed Khadda
Influenced by cubism and Arabic calligraphy, Mohammed Khadda was a self-taught artist from Algeria who deftly combined western abstraction with calligraphic styles. When he passed away in 1991, he was recognised as having a profound influence on modern Algerian art. Learn more about Khadda and study his canvasses closely in this gallery.
The collection, offered on Google's Arts and Culture platform, looks at famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo's life, art and legacy. It is possibly the biggest collection of her work available online to date, thanks to the collaboration between 33 art museums and organisations.
Born in 1907, Frida Kahlo is considered to be the greatest artist in Mexico's history, and placed her home country on the international map in the art world. Known for her colourful self-portraits, this virtual exhibition allows viewers to closely examine more than 800 pieces of her work, including sketches and drawings.
It includes rare pieces such as The Frame, the only artwork by the artist to be found in a European museum, as it is usually displayed at The Centre Pompidou in Paris, France. The work can be viewed in extreme close detail, alongside information on the history of the piece.
Viewers are also able browse through the exhibition, which is divided into sections, and read about the places where Kahlo lived, her fashion style and even see parts of her diary and some of her personal letters, including letters to her mother Matilde from 1930.
Whitney Screens by the Whitney Museum of American Art
Part of their #WhitneyFromHome initiative, the weekly live-streaming event features video works by living artists that are part of the museum's collection. So far, Whitney Screens has presented Rubber Pencil Devil (2019) by Alex Da Corte followed by Clarissa Tossin's Ch'u Mayaa, which includes choreography inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House (built 1919–21) in Los Angeles fused with gestures found on ancient Maya buildings. The live-stream is held every Friday on Vimeo.
The Metropolitan Opera, New York
The Met Opera has decided to launch a series of free opera streams called "Nightly Met Opera Streams" during the coronavirus shutdown. The institution has scheduled to play videos of previous performances, including Bizet's Carmen and Puccini's La Vie Boheme.
The J Paul Getty Museum in California has challenged the public to recreate artworks at home using just household items, pets or themselves as the subjects. The result? Hilarious and creative compositions from toilet paper, blankets, piles of socks and appliances. The museum borrowed the idea from the Dutch Instagram account, Tussen Kunst & Quarantaine (Between Art and Quarantine), which began posting on March 14.
#CuratorBattle by the Yorkshire Museum
Delve into the obscure collections of smaller museums around the world with the online challenge #CuratorBattle. Launched by the Yorkshire Museum, an archaeological museum in the UK, it began with a call to curators and specialists to find the Creepiest Object in their collections. Mummified mermen, haunting dolls and pandemic masks were among the few that surfaced online. The following week's theme focused on Sassiest Objects.
Those who want something quick and easy can search the hashtag #MuseumMomentofZen on Twitter and Instagram to see images of artworks posted museums and galleries around the world. You can also get updates on artwork live streams, such The Broad’s stream of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room.
New York Public Library Insta-stories
Squeeze in a few chapters of classics such as Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis and Charlotte Perkins Gillman's The Yellow Wallpaper through the New York Public Library's Instagram Stories, where they are sharing the works in their entirety in their highlights.