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Virtual Museum Tours: History & Art At Your Fingertips

It’s virtually impossible to see every great museum in the world, even if you have a lifetime to do it. Or is it? Fortunately for those who don’t have the means to travel across several countries, you’re now able to view world-renowned art and history exhibits from the comfort of your own home. Thanks to new VR technology, museums have now made tours of their exhibits available online. It turns out it is virtually possible, after all. Though nothing beats the real thing, it does give people access to art exhibits they may never be able to experience otherwise. Here are some of the amazing exhibits that are right at our fingertips:

1) Smithsonian: Natural History and Renwick Gallery

These two Smithsonian Museum collections are both available for online touring. The Natural History tour uses a Web VR platform for the touring, meaning that the tour can utilize a headset, provided that you’re using a browser that enables Web VR. Virtual visitors are taken on a room by room 360-degree walking tour of both present and past exhibits. It includes an on-screen map of the facility and panoramic images so you can view the exhibits in detail.

The Renwick Gallery is a portion of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. According to Virtualiteach, this tour was created using the Wonder 360 app, which is available for iOS and Android devices. This tour is a bit more interactive than that of the National History tour. While you’re navigating through the exhibits, you can also click on tags which will bring up additional information about the exhibits and even videos.

2) The Louvre

The Louvre offers virtual tours directly from its website. It offers a 360 degree view of several of its most popular exhibits, including Egyptian Antiquities, Remains of the Louvre’s Moat, and Galerie d’Apollon. Another platform that offers tours to The Louvre is YouVisit, which is available for Web VR, iOS, and Android devices. This tour begins outside, viewing the famous Louvre Pyramid, and takes you through ten separate areas of the museum. Similarly to The Renwick Gallery experience, YouVisit offers additional information and videos with each exhibit.

3) The British Museum

Even if you’re ever lucky enough to visit the British Museum in real life, it’s unlikely you’ll get to see everything. Given that it contains more than eight million objects, it’s lucky that some exhibits you may miss are available online. Experiencing some of this museum’s exhibits has become available on a few different platforms. According to Mental Floss, they first made it available to view through Google Street view technology by partnering up with the Google Cultural Institute. Their exhibits are now available on The Boulevard App, which is a popular app for multiple immersive VR museum experiences. They’ve also worked with Oculus to create additional VR tours, including that of their Egyptian galleries.

4) Metropolitan Museum of Art

Using YouTube 360, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has created a VR tour project called Met 360⁰. They posted several of these clips to YouTube, allowing viewers to be walked through the museum with 360⁰ rotating capabilities. Several of their best exhibits are available to be viewed through these videos, including the works of Vincent Van Gogh and Jackson Pollock.

5) The VR Museum of Fine Art

As you can probably guess from the title, this isn’t a physical museum that actually exists. Rather, the platform HTC Vive created its own virtual museum, which combines several of the world’s most famous art and history pieces into one super-museum. Nowhere else will viewers be able so see both The Statue of David and the Mona Lisa in the same space. The imaging technology is so advanced that you can even zoom in and see the texture of the paintings and artifacts on display.

Though experiencing art digitally may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is certainly doing a world of good. Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with the means to travel to every art exhibit on their bucket list. But most people do have the means to purchase a phone and now, that’s enough to get them there.

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