Stuck at home because of coronavirus? How to get your art and design fix from your couch

Just because coronavirus has you avoiding public spaces doesn’t mean you can’t get cultured from home.

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Over the past month, cities around the world have asked people to curtail travel, practice social distancing, and work from home in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. As confirmed cases continue to increase in the U.S., American cities are recommending these same practices. Staying home (whether you’re self-quarantining or just avoiding public spaces) can be incredibly isolating. But it doesn’t have to be—from virtual museum tours to podcasts, there are a number of ways to get a culture fix from the comfort and safety of home.

Google Arts & Culture has partnered with over 500 museums and galleries around the world, including Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, London’s National Gallery, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The featured collections vary depending on the museum, but most include online exhibits, a “street view” that lets you explore inside the institution itself, as well as galleries of the artwork, where you can deep dive into paintings such as Vermeer’s The Milkmaid (at the Rijksmuseum) or da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi (at Florence’s recently closed Uffizi Gallery). If you’re not sure where to start, Google curated a handy shortlist of their top 10 virtual museums.

The Louvre, which recently reopened after a coronavirus-prompted closure, offers its own virtual tours. And if you know what you’re looking for, many museums offer robust virtual catalogs of their collections, such as this one from Minneapolis’s Walker Art Museum. Some, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, have taken their online content a step further by enhancing what you’d see IRL with offerings such as The Artist Project, a YouTube series in which artists such as Nick Cave or the late John Baldessari talk about a particular work in the museum. Similarly, MoMA’s The Way I See It has creatives such as Steve Martin or Roxane Gay discussing themes from the museum’s collection. (The Way I See It is also available as a podcast, if you’re in the mood to multitask.) MoMA’s YouTube page also has short videos on their current exhibitions, which include additional commentary.

Google’s The Open Heritage series is another way to explore lesser-known and endangered historical and cultural gems from around the world. The up-close look offers incredibly detailed visuals and historical accounts of sites that are difficult to access, coronavirus or no—including 12th-century Syrian baths, Native American cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, and the Peruvian ceremonial site Chavín de Huántar.

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