LIST: Virtual art museums and online exhibits you can visit during pandemic

In the months we've been in lockdown due to the pandemic, a means of escape has been through art. Whether it be books, songs, films, or a newfound passion for painting, art has been our solace.

To celebrate Go To An Art Museum Day on November 9, we've curated a list of museums you can visit in the comfort of your homes and at your own pace.

National Museum of Fine Arts

One of the must-visit museums in the Philippines is the National Museum of Fine Arts, also known as the National Art Gallery. It houses several art pieces from as early as the 17th century.

BEGIN HERE. The first page of the virtual museum shows the facade of the National Museum of Fine Arts. Photo grabbed from Sulyap Museo

Like many others on this list, it is currently closed for viewing to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In celebration of its 119th Foundation Day, the National Museum recently launched Sulyap Museo, a 360-degree virtual tour where visitors can (virtually) walk through 9 of its famed galleries. For a more enhanced experience, e-visitors are serenaded by the University of the Philippines Manila Chorale.

The tour includes Juan Luna’s iconic Spoliarium, the museum’s crowd-drawer, and the 260-foot mural Filipino Struggles Through History painted by national artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco. The mural was declared a National Cultural Treasure. 

SPOLIARIUM. The original canvas of Juan Luna’s Spoliarium that depicts the death of Roman gladiators. Photo grabbed from Sulyap Museo

NATIONAL TREASURE. Botong Francisco's Filipino Struggles Through History depicts the history of the Philippines from the arrival of the Spaniards to the establishment of The Commonwealth. Photo grabbed from Sulyap Museo

The tour also showcases sculptures from National Artist for Sculpture Guillermo Tolentino.

Visitors may click on the museum “hotspots” to know more about the exhibition hall and the pieces it holds.

Aside from the National Art Gallery, the #MuseumFromHome initiative of the National Museum also includes a virtual walkthrough of the Museum of Anthropology. Both are free of charge and can be accessed 24/7.

Ayala Museum

The Ayala Museum had already opened a virtual museum for their patrons even before the lockdown due to COVID-19 began, as the Makati museum was closed for renovation.

The museum is known for its collection of pre-colonial artifacts including over 1,000 gold objects and 111 textiles that showcase the rich culture and impeccable craftsmanship of indigenous Filipinos. 

Ayala Museum's "Gold in Our Veins" exhibit celebrates the ancient history of Indochina, the East Indies, and the Philippine Archipelago. In the 3D render of the exhibit, patrons can walk through the halls of the gallery and zoom in on the finest details of each painting, as if you were really at the heart of Makati studying each stroke.

GOLD IN OUR VEINS. Portraits of Prabhajjana (left) and Vidya (right) surrounded by artifacts from East Asia.

To get a fuller experience, viewers may also watch the Virtual Visit video to learn more about the rich heritage of ancient East Asia. 

Aside from the Gold exhibit, the Ayala Museum TV also has over 40 videos about the different objects in their museum which are available for viewing on their YouTube channel. Videos are curated into these categories: Beauty, Gold, Courtship, Religion, and Crafts.

Exhibits can also be found on the Ayala Museum and the Filipinas Heritage Library pages on Google Arts & Culture about the rich culture of Filipino textiles and the Philippines during and post World War II.

The museum also transformed the Philippine History Diorama exhibit into a coloring book as educational materials for children and students.

Ateneo Art Gallery

Housed in Areté inside the Ateneo de Manila University campus is the Ateneo Art Gallery, widely known as the first museum of Philippine Modern Art. It holds an impressive collection of the different movements of Philippine art. You can now walk through five of their exhibits, namely: Love It and Leave It, The Print Folio, Ateneo Art Awards 2018, Inscapes, and The World According to Charlie Co.

In celebration of National Arts Month last February, the Ateneo Art Gallery conducted an exhibition of Charlie Co’s works. Co is a visual artist from Bacolod who has made a name for himself in the contemporary art world. The exhibition spans four decades of his work, capturing four decades of the world we live in. 

Another virtual tour includes the sculptures of Agnes Arellano which challenges the conventional way we view and experience art. The pieces explore themes of motherhood, sexuality, religion, and life and death. 

HALIYA BATHING: A marble piece that depicts the Bicolano myth of the moon goddess Halliya made by Agnes Arellano. Screenshot from Ateneo Art Gallery

Malacañan Presidential Museum & Library

The Presidential Museum usually requires a reservation before you can pay a visit, but with the aid of technology, you can now experience it at any time. The Museum recently partnered with Google Arts & Culture to promote the presidential artworks and memorabilia.

MARCOS ROOM. Documents and photographs from the Marcos regime are shown in the Presidential Museum, including the official presidential seal used during his administration. Screenshot from the Presidential Museum

Aside from storing relics and memorabilia of former presidents, the halls of the Presidential Museum bore witness to the history of the Philippines as the oldest part of the Palace.

The museum is a go-to for history buffs since its collection includes timelines of each Philippine president and their respective contributions to the development of the country. In this walkthrough, virtual visitors may revisit the years as if they were in a time machine. 

Museum of Modern Art (New York, United States)

You don’t have to ride a 15-hour flight to visit the famous Museum of Modern Art or MoMA in New York anymore. They have now displayed some of their installations online in their “Virtual Views” exhibit which includes walkthroughs of the gallery, talkbacks with the artists, and audio guides. 

If you’re missing the Big Apple, you can check out a whole exhibit dedicated to the city. New York, Open City explores the architecture that makes up New York’s famous skyline. Artwork accompanied by audio guides give a glimpse of the different boroughs and its history, making you feel like you’re in the city.

MoMA’s Virtual Views explores various galleries of different artists and of different art mediums. Another one of their online exhibits is the Félix Fénéon: The Anarchist and the Avant-Garde – From Signac to Matisse and Beyond gallery.

VIRTUAL VIEWS. A glimpse into the Félix Fénéon exhibit. Screenshot from the Museum of Modern Art virtual tour

Patrons can click on the paintings to better understand each piece. It also features a talkback with the curator to bring the galleries closer to people.

British Museum

It’s no surprise why the British Museum gets over 6 million visitors each year when they have one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of human history, arts, and culture thanks, in part, to centuries of colonialism. You can now browse through some of its 8 million objects in their virtual exhibit.

The online museum includes the famed Rosetta Stone.

ROSETTA STONE. The British Museum showcases the famed Rosetta Stone in their virtual museum. Screenshot from British Museum virtual exhibit

This interactive museum will amaze you with how much they were able to integrate technology with education. It features a highly-interactive timeline where visitors can click on each dot in history that piques their interest. Upon clicking each object, you can read or hear about it through the audio guide.

But if you prefer the traditional route of getting lost in the vast halls of museums, you can still enjoy that by clicking here.

J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles, United States)

If you’re interested in European history, the J. Paul Getty Museum might be for you. It houses Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art from different moments in time. This online experience features a museum walkthrough, as well as online exhibits that are free to the public.

Much like the others on this list, you can either walk through the galleries of the museum or you can explore it by clicking on a topic you like on the main page of their Google Arts & Culture account.

Patrons can check out the works of famous painters Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Claude Monet. 

EUROPEAN ART. The J. Paul Getty Museum houses some of the works of famous painters Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Claude Monet. Screenshot from the Getty Museum digital tour

One of the Getty Museum’s stories on their Google Arts & Culture page is an exploration of the intricate works on Chinese tapestry which features tapestries that were commissioned in France in the late 1600s and took almost a decade to complete. Aside from admiring the complicated handwork it took to make the pieces, it also gives an insight on the history each set of tapestry tells. – Rappler.com