Virtual Visit: International Museum Day

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Most of us have been stuck inside for more than six weeks. We’ve binged-watched television shows, read a few books, played lots of games with the kids, took long overdue naps and struggled to find that one missing puzzle piece (ask the dog). Ready to give your brain a boost? Then mark your calendar for May 18 and celebrate International Museum Day. Created in 1977, this day is meant to raise awareness of the fact that, “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.” In other words, museums are really cool places that can open up dozens of new cultures to us while expanding our understanding of the world. 

This year’s bonus is not having to pay any admission fees or wait in any lines. Instead, you can visit some of the most famous museums in the world from the comfort of your couch. Check out some of our top picks below.

Philadelphia Museum of Art – How could we not start in our own backyard? More than 150,000 of the museum’s works can be viewed online as well as past talks and performances. The museum also posts interesting tidbits about its art collection on its Facebook page. Fun fact: did you know that Philadelphia is home to the only dedicated Rodin Museum outside of France? The Philadelphia Museum of Art has administered it since 1929! 

Museum of Modern Art (New York) – This is your chance to see some of the most famous pieces of art in the world from artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. MoMA has an extensive online collection of art but take a few minutes to read (or listen to) their online magazine that features articles for the whole family including Family Movies to Spark Creativity. And if you need resources for teaching an art class at home MoMA has you covered there, too. 

The J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles) – The Getty Museum is allowing you to virtually walk through the now-closed Michelangelo exhibit with the museum’s curator. Add this to your to-do list because it’s an incredible opportunity. You’ll also find more than 100,000 artwork images that can be used for any purpose, lesson plans for bringing art to the classroom, family activities and of course, the Getty’s famed 160,000 pieces of art that span 13 centuries. 

Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam) – Grab some popcorn and settle in for a 4K, seven-part tour of this museum that features more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 750 letters that Van Gogh wrote and created. There are lesson plans for kids, coloring pages and information about three films on the life of the famous artist.  

The Vatican Museum (Italy) – Take your pick of seven different virtual tours of this museum including a 360-degree view of the famous Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo. Check the museum’s Instagram page for breathtaking pieces of art to fill your feed. 

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (Washington D.C.) – Travel from floor to floor via 360-degree virtual tours of this incredible museum. Be sure to say hello to Henry, the 11-ton, 13-foot tall African elephant who has been on the first floor since 1959. Don’t miss their fun and educational family-friendly webinars including “Fossil Friday.” 

Of course, this is just a small sample of the thousands of museums worldwide that are offering digital resources and virtual tours. You can learn more about International Museum Day and which museums are participating by visiting the official website