Here are 16 noteworthy museums around the globe that you can explore from home for free!
The physical doors of museums around the world may be closed to us (at the moment) but the virtual doors have opened to us instead, not only making the museums much easily accessible to us but also bringing the exhibits much closer to us than ever.
While a virtual experience may not be the same as being able to experience the splendor of these museums "live", it is much better than the alternative of not being able to access them at all. It’s also a great way to prepare yourself for a future trip!
Last updated: 12 Jul 2021
1. Benaki Museum | Athens
Source: Benaki Museum
Take a virtual step into the Benaki Museum in Athens and wander through years of Greek history. Their impressive collection, which goes as far back as 3000 BC (and maybe more), includes Prehistoric, Ancient Greek and Roman Art, Byzantine Art, Historic Heirlooms, and a collection of noteworthy books, among others.
2. Louvre Museum | Paris
Source: APK Pure
Explore: Louvre Museum
As the world’s largest and one of the most well-known art museums, The Louvre needs no introduction. Avoid the queues and take your time to explore the vast collection of objects housed within this historic building through the virtual tours of the galleries. You can wander across the Petite Galerie, Medieval Louvre as well as the collections of the department of Egyptian Antiquities. You can even stare at the ceiling of the Apollo Gallery, a splendorous ensemble of masterpieces by French artists like Charles Le Brun and Eugène Delacroix!
3. Musée d’Orsay | Paris
Source: Sophie Crépy via Musée d'Orsay
Explore: Musée d’Orsay
Musée d’Orsay is another noteworthy art museum located in Paris. Formerly the site of a railway station, today the building houses one of the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist works by artists like van Gogh, Manet, Degas, and Courbet. You can stroll through the museum with streetview or click through and learn more about some of the masterpieces on display.
4. National Museum of Nature and Science | Tokyo
Source: National Museum of Nature and Science
Home to thousands of exhibits, the National Museum of Nature and Science covers a wide range of topics, from life on earth to Japan’s technological advances, and you can explore some of these exhibits online. You can easily spend hours exploring the mysteries of dinosaur evolution, discovering Earth’s origin, and learning about medical science in the Edo period, among others!
5. National Women’s History Museum | Virginia
Explore: National Women’s History Museum
Founded in 1996, the National Women’s History Museum in Virginia is an online museum with a series of well-curated online exhibits, oral histories and stories that show the full scope of women’s accomplishments through the years. You can learn about the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) of WWII, the women in NASA, and the history of women in the Olympics, among other things.
6. Dalí Theatre-Museum | Catalonia
Source: Joshua Mellin via CNN
Explore: Dalí Theatre-Museum
Wander into the world of Dalí with an interactive virtual tour of the Dalí Theatre-Museum, a museum dedicated to the renowned artist Salvador Dalí in his hometown of Figueres, in Catalonia, Spain. In addition to a diverse collection of Dalí’s paintings and sculptures, you can also find three-dimensional collages, mechanical devices as well as Dalí’s collection of works by other artists. Dalí himself lies buried in a crypt below the stage floor.
7. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History | Washington, D.C.
Source: Chip Clark via Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Home to an extensive collection of specimens of plants, fossils, rocks, human remains, and cultural artefacts, among others, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is one of the most visited natural history museum in the world.
Human traffic will not be an issue with the museum’s virtual tour. You can take room-by-room tours of select exhibits, areas within the museum as well as select collections and research areas at the museum’s support center and research stations. You will also be able to access past exhibits that are no longer on display.
8. The British Museum | London
Source: The British Museum
Explore: The British Museum
Did you know that The British Museum was the first public national museum in the world? Established in 1753, the museum’s collection of artefacts representing the various cultures of the world has since grown more extensive over the centuries. Part of the comprehensive collection, which records over two million years of human history and culture, can be explored on the museum’s online database as well as on Google Arts & Culture.
9. The Metropolitan Museum of Art | New York
Source: Association of Research Institutes in Art History
Explore: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
United States’ largest art museum, The Met is home to over 2 million works of fine art from around the world, spanning over 5,000 years. But you don’t have to be on the ground to experience their grand collection. The establishment offers a series of ways you can explore the museum from home, such as audio guides, 360-degree videos, a database of artworks, as well as a section designed for kids known as #MetKids, that you can access on their website. Part of the museum and collection can also be explored on Google Arts & Culture.
10. Vatican Museums | Vatican City
Explore: Vatican Museums
Can you imagine getting an up-close view of the renaissance art masterpieces at the Vatican Museums? Because you can.
The Vatican Museums wherein lies a spectacular collection of artworks by well-known names like Michelangelo, da Vinci, Dalí, and Picasso, offer virtual tours of the different places in the museum grounds. The virtual tours allow you a 360-degree view of the interiors of the buildings, so be sure to look up, especially when you’re inside the Sistine Chapel.
11. National Museums Liverpool | Liverpool
Source: National Museums Liverpool
Explore: National Museums Liverpool
National Museums Liverpool comprises several museums and art galleries in and around Liverpool, England. There are a total of seven museums and galleries in the group – International Slavery Museum, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, Museum of Liverpool, Sudley House, Walker Art Gallery, and World Museum.
The Ancient Egypt virtual tour, where you can learn about ancient burial practices, the International Slavery Museum virtual tour, the Dinosaurs and Natural World virtual tour, and World Cultures virtual gallery tour, are just some of the museums and exhibits you can explore from wherever you are. There are also a few past exhibits that you can explore, such as the Liverpool on wheels virtual tour, which showcases transport history through a fabulous array of vehicles built in and around Liverpool.
12. Boston Children’s Museum | Boston
Source: Boston Children’s Museum
Explore: Boston Children’s Museum
The Boston Children’s Museum is one of the largest children’s museums in the world. Dedicated to the education of children, the museum’s exhibits focus on science, culture, environmental awareness, health & fitness, and the arts. The museum’s interactive-intensive exhibits might make for a dry tour for some, but it makes up for it by providing inspiration for play at home.
13. NASA Glenn Research Centre | Cleveland
Source: NASA Glenn Research Centre
Explore: NASA Glenn Research Centre
If your kids are interested in aeronautics and science, this will be a delight to them. The NASA Glenn Research Centre virtual tour gives you a peek into the centre’s facilities while images and short clips scattered around the virtual space allows you to discover the different processes and testing in action.
14. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Washington, D.C.
Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Speaking of aeronautics, here is another museum for enthusiasts – the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, home to the world's largest and most significant collection of aviation and space artefacts, encompassing all aspects of human flight, as well as related works of art and archival materials. Through the Google Arts & Culture page, you can explore the museum, learn through the online exhibits, such as World War II in Color, and study the various objects in their vast collection.
15. The Strong National Museum of Play | Rochester
Source: The Strong National Museum of Play
Explore: The Strong National Museum of Play
The Strong National Museum of Play is a collections-based museum devoted to the history and exploration of play. The Strong’s comprehensive collection includes toys, dolls, board games, video games, other electronic games, books, as well as other historical materials related to play. While it might be best to experience this highly interactive museum onsite, a virtual trip might prove to just as fascinating.
16. Natural History Museum | London
Source: Natural History Museum
Explore: Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum offers plenty for you to delve into from the comforts of your couch (or wherever you’re seated). In addition to a look into their collection and museum via street view, the museum’s Google Arts & Culture page also provides a narrated experience as well as a series of online exhibits, which brings you up-close with some of the exhibit highlights. Butterflies: the science behind the colour, Highlights of Fantastic Beasts™: The Wonder of Nature, and The Hidden World of the Tank Room, are just some of the exhibits you can look forward to.
Also, within the museum’s website is a plethora of videos and articles on dinosaurs, human evolution, space, and ocean, among others. You can even explore and learn more about the different objects in the museum’s collection.