The Best Virtual Tours of Major Museums

As the world continues to battle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, day-to-day life remains at a standstill in most major cities. While the world’s most revered art and history institutes largely remain closed to the public, an increasing number of museums are moving their collections online — meaning you can still make a virtual visit to all those places on your bucket list. Here are some of the best virtual tours of major museums.

The Louvre (Paris)

Exterior of The Louvre with people waiting in line to go inside
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The Paris landmark’s online tours bring you up close to stunning artifacts from the popular Egyptian Antiquities exhibit, as well as to defining Renaissance self-portraits from Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt in this year’s Petite Galerie exhibition. Plus, go deep into the Louvre’s rich architectural history as you explore remains from the building’s origins as a twelfth-century fortress and royal palace.

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Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York)

People walking on the sidewalk in front of the Guggenheim museum in New York
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The Guggenheim — one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most well-known buildings — is considered an architectural masterpiece in its own right. With five exhibitions, a 360-degree view of the iconic spiral staircase, and over 200 pieces from its Impressionist, Modern, and contemporary collections available for your online perusal, you could easily spend hours absorbed in its beauty.

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Smithsonian Natural History Museum (Washington, D.C.)

Interior of the Smithsonian museum with crowd of people looking at the elephant exhibit
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Dinosaurs, bugs, and gems, oh my! If you were worried that the scope and detail of the larger-than-life installations that make the Natural History Museum so magical couldn’t possibly be recreated online, think again. The comprehensive online tours take you room by room through current, past, and permanent exhibitions, and it’s worth taking your time to marvel at the wealth of information. Bookmark this one for repeat visits.

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The British Museum (London)

Big open room with ceiling open to the sky in the British Museum in London
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Two words: Egyptian Mummies. Did we also mention the Rosetta Stone? Or how about the Parthenon sculptures? The British Museum boasts priceless artifacts spanning two million years of human history, and its online portal will offer you a humbling bit of perspective as you explore every corner of the globe.

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The Vatican Museums (Vatican City, Rome)

Inside the Vatican Museums with designs on the tiled floor and statues lining a hallway in Vatican City
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Thanks to the Vatican’s 360-degree access, you can take your time exploring some of the world’s most significant historical sites (and sights), including a lengthy look at the intricate and dramatic beauty of Michelangelo’s ceiling inside the Sistine Chapel. It’s oddly soothing.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)

Room full of art statues and glass ceilings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
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It should come as no surprise that the largest art museum in the United States also has one of the most robust online offerings of its collections. Through its own website and in collaboration with Google, the Met has made over 200,000 items across several exhibitions available for at-home viewing. Marvel over meticulous Coco Chanel and Christian Dior collections, pore over an in-depth analysis of famed Baroque painter Johannes Vermeer’s A Maid Asleep, bask in Post-Impressionist palettes in classics by Seuret’s and Cézanne, and so, so much more.

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The Dalí Theatre-Museum (Catalonia, Spain)

Exterior of Salvador Dali museum in Spain
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Swipe, tap, and even laugh your way through an immersive experience that pays perfect homage to surrealism icon Salvador Dali’s imaginative works. The virtual tour includes a trip through the grounds of the complex — where Dali himself is buried in a crypt — as well as exhibits covering every era of his life’s work.

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National Museum of Anthropology (Mexico City)

Interior of National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City
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If archaeological artifacts are your thing, the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City has you covered. Explore the region’s roots and present-day indigenous culture through grand sculptures, ancient Mexican art, and historical artifacts like the Aztec Calendar.

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Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum (Washington, D.C.)

Airplanes inside Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
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Get inspired and stimulate your imagination with the Air and Space Museum’s otherworldly — and astronomically popular — collection of aviation and space artifacts. While the virtual tour leaves some of the more compelling IRL interactive features of the exhibits behind, the depth of aviation history, as seen through the vast array of aircraft, is still an impressive display.

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Musée d’Orsay (Paris)

Musée d’Orsay seen from outside across the canal in Paris
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Another of Paris’ most popular historic destinations. Musée d’Orsay’s virtual offerings highlight not only its enviable collections from van Gogh and Monet, but its own legacy — and its beautiful architecture, situated picturesquely on the banks of the Seine — as a former rail station.

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J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles)

Outside the J. Paul Getty Museum
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With a collection that spans 6,000 years, from the eighth to the 21st century, the Getty is a must-visit for art history completists. Take a virtual look at popular exhibits such as the mollifying Eighteenth-Century Pastel Portraits, and make sure to spend some time with their highly respected photography collection. Plus, the Getty’s stunning Santa Monica setting is a work of art in itself, and you can take an interactive walk around the grounds via Xplorit.

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