(TMU) — Let’s face it: things are looking bad in the world, and if we haven’t already felt the heavy impact of the coronavirus outbreak, we soon will.
Across the English-speaking world, public events are being canceled, schools are being closed or placed on extended vacation, and cultural and art institutions are being shuttered en masse. Professional athletic organizations like the NCAA and MLB are canceling or delaying the start of their seasons, leaving sports fans in the lurch.
Meanwhile, whole municipal zones are instructing to shelter in place, self-quarantine, and otherwise lie low as authorities grasp at ways to keep the novel virus under control.
However, while we may be stuck at home, cultural institutions, national park services, symphonies, and zoos are now offering stunning virtual tours online, allowing us to enjoy some of humankind’s most amazing artistic and musical achievements from our homes.
Here are a few cultural “outings” you can enjoy from your computer, tablet, or phone!
A “Trip” to the Museum
Google’s Arts and Culture pages offer no less than 2,500 world-class museums and galleries, where you can peruse the collections of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Whitney Museum in New York City, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and the Tate Modern in London. You can also take a virtual tour of such locales as the Uffizi Galleries. And one cool “feature” of these Google tours is that you can zoom in on the priceless art far closer than you would ever be able to lean into it.
Various museums are also offering virtual tours through their websites. This includes the Louvre, which has a breathtaking exhibit in its Egyptian antiquities department; Madrid’s Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, which offers a virtual tour of its Rembrandt and Portraiture in Amsterdam, 1590-1670 exhibit on virtual view; the Vatican Museums, which offer state-of-the-art 360-degree tours of Raphael’s Rooms, the Sistine Chapel, and other attractions; as well as a self-guided tour of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.
Take a Guided (Virtual) Tour of U.S. National Parks
In partnership with the U.S. National Parks Services, Google’s Arts & Culture pages are also offering a program called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” that will bring the great outdoors to your living room or bedroom. The digital tour includes five national parks, including Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, and Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska.
Take the Kids to a Virtual Aquarium or Zoo
The Monterey Bay Aquarium in California may have been closed since March 12, but that’s not stopping it from allowing online visitors from enjoying the everyday life of its aquatic critters. Visitors can see a range of free live camera streams, ranging from their world-famous kelp forest to the jellyfish exhibit, or you can just watch penguins waddle about adorably. Scheduled feeding times will also be shown.
Meanwhile, at Boston’s New England Aquarium you can also watch feedings, tours, and a behind-the-scenes glimpse of operations through scheduled Facebook Live streams.
The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco is also featuring views of penguins as well as their Philippine Coral Reef exhibit, while the Oakland Zoo is offering live views of their elephants, sun bears and black bears.
Enjoy a Night Out at the Symphony (Without Dressing Up)!
While nothing can substitute a live performance from a symphony orchestra, many are offering live streams of their performances rather than cancel them entirely. Old shows are also being offered for free online.
The Philharmonie Berlin, which will remain closed until at least April 19, has opened its digital library of performances to the public, allowing unfettered access to over 600 shows. Just use the code BERLINPHIL by March 31 to get a 30-day all-access pass to the orchestra’s amazing work. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is also live-streaming its performances through YouTube, and while those of us in the Western Hemisphere may not prefer to wake up at 7 p.m. AEDT (or 4 a.m. EDT) to catch a symphony performance, we can still watch replays on the orchestra’s YouTube channel. Make sure to check out their outstanding performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s immortal classic, Scheherazade.