The Arts: Cultural Chronicles
Explore the world’s greatest collections online
During the last two decades, many of the great treasure troves contained within the world’s finest galleries and museums have been digitally catalogued and made available online. Today, the culturally curious can view digital archives featuring photography, background information, scholarly research and in some cases, interactive multimedia that afford visitors deep insight into individual works of art or artefacts, from the comfort of home.
THE LOUVRE ABU DHABI
As part of its mission to foster cultural connections, Louvre Abu Dhabi has launched a 360-degree tour of its latest exhibition: Furusiyya: The Art of Chivalry Between East and West and a raft of new digital resources that include audio tours, video and downloadable activities that bring the museum’s collection to life. The tour allows visitors to walk through the new exhibition and view 18 pieces in greater detail, including a magnificent set of Ottoman horse armour from the late 15th-Century.
THE BRITISH MUSEUM
Aspiring Indiana Joneses will love the virtual tour of The British Museum. The tour takes the form of an interactive timeline that plots dozens of items from the collection, dating from the present day to two million years BC, on their respective place in history. Rewind through time to view exhibits, then click on the bubble to reveal the piece and a detailed description of the object and its context, as well as an audio description from British Museum curators and a link to a Google Maps discovery location.
Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum contains a treasure trove of work from the Dutch Masters. In addition to a digital archive that features more than 700,000 high-resolution images of the collection, a new virtual tour called Masterpieces Up Close takes visitors on a deep dive into 18 artworks on display in the museum’s Gallery of Honour, including stand-out pieces such as Vermeer’s The Milkmaid and The Night Watch by Rembrandt.
THE SISTINE CHAPEL
The Sistine Chapel is one of those exquisite artistic endeavours that any art enthusiast should experience at some stage in their life. For a teaser, travellers can explore seven parts of the Vatican Museums, including the chapel, rendered in dazzlingly clear colour via immersive 360-degree virtual tours. Other highlights include the incredible works that adorn the walls of Raphael’s Rooms, the marble-clad Pio Clementino Museum and the incredible sculptures of the Chiaramonti Museum.
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF ANTHROPOLOGY
Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology is one of the finest in the world, with a vast collection of pre-Hispanic artefacts that will leave would-be tomb raiders awed. It’s easy to lose an entire day visiting the actual museum, situated in Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park, but curious anthropologists can sample the collection, including the 25-tonne Aztec Calendar, on a fantastic virtual journey created in partnership with Google Arts & Culture.
With more than 154 million pieces spread across 19 museums and galleries, the Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum and research complex. Virtual travellers can explore the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, where a full-sized African elephant welcomes visitors, in a 360-degree tour. For a more in-depth guide to the collection, the Smithsonian website boasts a wealth of digital resources including podcasts, online courses, animal webcams and millions of digital records.
One must look for silver linings in challenging times, and there is much beauty to be found in exploring the corners of world from the luxury of our armchairs. If you’re feeling a dirth of culture, these interactive and immersive tours will inspire
MADRID'S MUSEUM TRIO
Madrid is home to three of Europe’s finest museums: the Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza. The Prado recently organised some of its collection on a historical timeline which pairs artworks with contemporary historical events, and the museum’s Masterpiece collection is brought to life with detailed notes, artist profiles, video features, technical data and bibliographies of scholarly references. (www.museodelprado.es) Pablo Picasso’s iconic work Guernica, the star of the collection at Reina Sofia, is the subject of an in-depth retrospective entitled Rethinking Guernica, which explores the chronology of the painting and its cultural influence since its creation in 1937 via thousands of documents, interviews, articles and gigapixel photography. (www.museodelprado.es) The collection of the Thyssen-Bornemisza is documented by Google Arts & Culture via an interactive walk-through that allows visitors to view artworks up close, and read detailed stories about a selection of works from the 13th- to late 20th-Century.