Galleries and museums in lockdown: 5 of the best virtual tours

As the UK begins to emerge from lockdown, the recreation and arts sectors are struggling to keep up with the demands of a post-lockdown world.

Cineworld recently confirmed it wouldn’t be opening its doors until 31st July, while some London galleries are postponing their reopening to August or September, according to a recent BBC report.

Elsewhere in Europe, many museums and galleries are opening in a Covid-secure way. As the UK’s list of available ‘air bridges’ grows, you might be tempted to add to your travel plans for the second half of the year.

Here are some of the best virtual tours of galleries and museums, as well as when they might reopen to the public.

1. Musée d’Orsay

Paris’s Musée d’Orsay has already reopened for limited visitors. But if you’re not yet ready to take to the air, why not visit from your sofa?

Among the 278 works of art that have been digitally reproduced for virtual examination are works by Manet, Millet, and Toulouse-Lautrec.

Other highlights include Degas’ In a Café, Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait, and Cézanne’s Still-life with kettle.

The museum is housed in a former railway station, the Gare d’Orsay. On the Left Bank of the Seine, it is a stunning late-nineteenth-century building in a beautiful location.

Pre-coronavirus, the museum was attracting more than three million tourists a year.

With France on the list of countries with which the UK now has an air-bridge, Paris may well be on your list of destinations for the second half of 2020.

If you are planning a visit, be aware that face masks are currently compulsory. Once inside, you will be free to roam – there is no one-way system in place – but social distancing must be followed at all times.

2. Tate Britain

All four of Tate’s galleries are scheduled to reopen on 27 July. They will be employing one-way systems to ensure safe passage and aid social distancing. Timed tickets will also be required to limit visitor numbers at any one time.

Tate Modern will be opening with an Andy Warhol exhibit, newly-extended until November. Tate Britain, meanwhile, will be showcasing its Aubrey Beardsley exhibition.

For now, make do with a virtual Tate Britain tour and take a closer look at John Singer Sargent’s Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, and JMW Turner’s The Shipwreck, among countless others.

3. Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum hopes to reopen in the summer but for now, visitors will have to make do with its virtual incarnation.

The museum website features numerous ways to interact with the exhibits, including a self-guided virtual tour. You can also enjoy being guided by Sir David Attenborough around the Hintze Hall – home to ‘Hope’, the skeleton of a blue whale.

You can also choose to take a peek behind the scenes at some of the exhibits, not on display.

The museum hopes to open again during the summer.

4. J Paul Getty Museum

Almost five million Brits visited the US in 2019 but travel in 2020 looks a lot different. America closed its borders on 14 March to all travellers arriving from Europe. As of early July, that ban has yet to be lifted.

If you are hoping to visit Los Angeles later in the year, why not start your planning by paying a virtual visit to the city’s J Paul Getty Museum?

The virtual tour includes a wide array of famous works by great artists.

Van Gogh’s Irises, Cezanne’s Still Life with Apples, and Renoir’s La Promenade are all on virtual display. Numerous other works by the likes of Manet, Monet, and Rembrandt are also available to view.

5. Rijksmuseum

Rembrandt’s 1642 masterpiece, The Night Watch is among the collection of Dutch masters available to view at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.

As of 10 July, air travel to the Netherlands from the UK has become an option once again. The Rijksmuseum has reopened too.

Operating in much the same way as the Tate’s museums and galleries, tickets will be time-specific. It’s hoped this will limit the number of visitors in the museum at any one time. Additional hygiene measures are also in place.

Vermeer’s The milkmaid, Asselijn’s The Threatened Swan, and Rembrandt’s Self Portrait as the Apostle Paul are among some of the highlights of the collection. Visit virtually or seek them out on an upcoming trip.