The new coronavirus has changed public life.
Experts have called for “social distancing” – the broad and conscious effort to avoid close contact with other people or public places – amid the new global coronavirus pandemic to limit transmission of the virus. As communities downsize their gatherings or stop meeting, many museums are temporarily closed as a precaution. But that doesn’t mean their collections and other online art exhibits can’t be viewed from home.
You can rotate a 3D model of the skeleton of a woolly mammoth, or enjoy the boredom exhibited in Mary Cassatt’s 1878 masterpiece “Little Girl in a Blue Chair”.
Below are a few art exhibitions and collections that you can browse online, whether you’re socially distancing yourself at home, needing a distraction, or just wanting to get lost in some art.
The Smithsonians have no shortage of options
Almost all of the Smithsonian Institute’s 20 museums and galleries in Washington, DC and New York are temporarily closed, but there are many types of collections to browse online.
Here are a few quick and noteworthy finds: There are online exhibits about the great jazzman Ella Fitzgerald, how art played a role in making aesthetically pleasing everyday items (like this sleek electric toaster from the 1940s) and portraits that show how Americans have defined who is âcoolâ over the years.
Did you find something interesting in any of these collections? Share what you found in the Facebook Canvas group here.
The Smithsonian Institute also recently released more than 2.8 million images to the public on an open-access online platform. These images are free to download. There is a century-old oil painting by Pocahontas. A painting by Winslow Homer of waves hitting the side of a Maine cliff. And that creepy, patented model of a “crawling doll”, if that’s your thing.
READ MORE: I visited this epidemic exhibit before the coronavirus pandemic stopped it
If in doubt, Google.
The Google Arts & Culture team has worked with hundreds of museums and galleries around the world to digitize some of their art collections, from Istanbul to New Delhi to BogotÃ¡ and Indianapolis, Indiana. Better-known museums, such as the Guggenheim in New York and the MusÃ©e d’Orsay in Paris, are also emerging.
For a full map of all the collections, start here.
Some recommendations: From the Dolores Olmedo Museum in Mexico City, you can take a look at Frida Kahlo’s diary. (In a 1953 entry, after her right leg was amputated, she wrote: “Feet, why do I need you, if I have wings to fly?”)
Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum presents a full breakdown of all the elements – and the use of light – in Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch”, arguably one of the world’s most famous paintings. You can also take a Google Street Tour of the museum itself here.
The Museu de Arte de SÃ£o Paulo has a rare 1850 EF Schute painting of a waterfall that demonstrates the awe-inspiring power of nature.
Turquoise Mountain focuses on improving the Afghan cottage industry. Online exhibits explore the art of carpet making and the intricacies of Nastaliq calligraphy.
The Pakistani Museum in Lahore has online collections of Gandhara sculptures and the largest collection of rare and ancient pieces on the subcontinent.
There are also plenty of YouTube 360 ââvideos that explore different historical sites or take a closer look at fashion stages, like Coco Chanel’s iconic LBD or the Little Black Dress.
And last year, Google digitized hundreds of works of art made in Puerto Rico. In “El Gobernador Don Miguel Antonio de UstÃ¡riz” by JosÃ© Campeche y JordÃ¡n, you can see the blue cobblestones laid in the background.
Other digital exhibits from museums across the United States
The Whitney Museum in New York opens its digital doors to a collection of more than 25,000 works, including videos of public programs and performances. Go deeper into the exhibits with audio guides specially designed for children ages 6-10, plus tours in American Sign Language.
The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience in Seattle provides a digital database of archives, photographs, artifacts, and access to online exhibits like the Cantonese Opera Collection.
The collection of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, which spans more than seven millennia and includes 36,000 objects from around the world, can be explored online, including their manuscripts.
Explore the Jewish Museum from home, on any device with a mobile audio recording tour, featuring artist voices and artifacts spanning 4,000 years of global Jewish art and culture.
The New-York Historical Society offers digital media and collections ranging from 20th century watercolors to bronze sculptures by John Rogers.
Search over 1.5 million assets in Yale’s digital library of art, natural history, books, maps, photographs, audio and video, including those in the Art Gallery from Yale University, the Yale Peabody Museum, the Lewis Walpole Library and the Yale Library Map Collection.
The Yale Center for British Art has a specific online catalog of paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and reference library collections.
As a cultural institution open to the public with roots in East Harlem, El Museo del Barrio has digital access to permanent and past exhibitions.
Discover the works of art of Henri Matisse and Frida Kahlo in the digital collection of the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. Immerse yourself in digital publications and artist interview videos of Japanese photography or discover the intersection of avant-garde and experimental games.
From ancient jades and ceramics to contemporary video installations, the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco has more than 18,000 objects online. From Persia to the Himalayas, discover collection galleries that present more than 2,000 works of art from all the great cultures of Asia.
Comprising the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have a digital library of their collection:
Browse the digitized collection of Pierpont Morgan’s immense holdings, ranging from Egyptian art to Renaissance paintings and Chinese porcelain. The Morgan Library and Museum’s online exhibits include miniature Indian and South Asian paintings and recordings of poems selected by Emily Dickinson.
READ MORE: Winslow Homer’s long love affair with the sea