Traveling (Virtually) with the Arts Blog: London

National Gallery
The National Gallery, London, has three virtual tours on its website. You can enjoy them on your laptop while sitting on your couch. (Getty Images)

As a consolation for not being able to travel the world (or pretty much anywhere) this summer, the Arts Blog will take you beyond our regional museum virtual tours and visit across the globe. In this first installment, we go to London, England. Don't miss the Natural History Museum's particularly realistic tours. And, you can get to the royal dinner party a bit early and see a set table in the tour of royal homes below.

Art museums, both local and global, remain closed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. If you’re anything like me, you sorely miss strolling through spacious museum exhibits. Never fear. You can enjoy art from the comfort of your own home. While it’s not quite the same as an in-person tour, virtual tours do have some advantages. You can take them at your own pace and at all hours of the day. Even better? You can enjoy snacks and drinks while looking at the art, unlike at an in-person museum. 

Now, go ahead. Just be careful not to spill on your laptop. 

Leigh Houck, UC Davis Media Relations Intern

The National Gallery 

The National Gallery in London is one of the greatest collections of paintings in the world. Note that to view some of these, you may need to update your Adobe viewing software.

  • The National Gallery offers three different virtual tours on their website. You can enjoy Renaissance paintings here and Early Renaissance paintings here. A sweeping 18-room tour created in 2011 allows you access to more than 300 paintings, and the ability to click on each artwork to learn more about it.  

The British Museum 

Located in London, the British Museum was founded in 1753. The museum describes itself as “the first national public museum of the world.” But you don’t need to travel across the world to visit it. 

  • The British Museum, in partnership with the Google Cultural Institute, has created the “Museum of the World.” This interactive website allows you to explore the British Museum’s artworks and artifacts from Asia, Africa, Europe, Oceania, and the Americas. Wonder at one of the earliest examples of writing or admire an emu feather skirt from Aboriginal Australia. Use your arrow keys to move from modern artworks, to artifacts from 2 million years ago. Click here to begin. 
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum in London is itself a work of art. You can tour the museum virtually. (Getty Images)

The Natural History Museum 

The Natural History Museum in London offers lots to enjoy. From bugs to birds to whales, explore the wonders of the natural world via the museum’s virtual offerings. 

Wander the museum virtually via Google Arts & Culture museum view here. You can even zoom in and out to get a better look at each artwork. 

Virtual tour of whales
A very realistic tour takes you through the Natural History Museum's whale collection.
  • The museum’s wonders go beyond the display cases. The museum itself is a work of art. Zoom in on the illustrated panels that comprise the ceiling here.  
  • The museum offers additional ways to explore virtually here. These tours are so real, they offer the sounds and sights of people touring the building.
Buckingham Palace
Tourists stroll toward Buckingham Palace. You can tour the royal headquarters virtually in these COVID-19 times. (Getty Images)

Buckingham Palace 

Indulge your quarantine daydreams of becoming royalty by touring the official residence of the Queen: Buckingham Palace. 

  • Explore the lavishly decorated palace here, from the grand staircase to the throne room. Click the “i” button at the bottom of the tour window for more information on each area. 

Can’t get enough of royal residences? Take a virtual tour of the Queen’s Easter residence, Windsor Castle, here. Take a virtual tour of the Queen’s official Scotland residence, Palace of Holyroodhouse, here.

Next week, after a rest in the British countryside, the Arts Blog will take you to Paris.

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