Home Arts The role of virtual museums in a time of isolation

The role of virtual museums in a time of isolation

by Lorenza Mezzapelle March 28, 2020
The role of virtual museums in a time of isolation

Museums and galleries are being forced to adapt amidst uncertainty

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind for everyone. There is a lot of uncertainty regarding jobs, school and just about everything right now. With vernissages being cancelled, and museums and other art spaces being closed indefinitely, many questions are being raised within the art world.

However, amidst all this uncertainty lies a new wave of innovation. Many art institutions have made their collections available digitally, for all. From the Louvre to the Sistine Chapel, viewers can visit these otherwise costly landmarks from the comfort of their own home, for free. Some museums, like the Louvre, are providing virtual tours, while others like the MET, are giving access to their collection databases.

But what does this mean for the museum as a physical space to view, experience and enjoy art? Does the accessibility of digital galleries affect the experience of engaging with art? In reality, this is not a new concept. Many institutions already have digital access to their collections, including the MET and the MOMA, and platforms like Artsy and Artnet already serve as online galleries, where patrons can view and purchase art.

Nonetheless, the current circumstances have provided many museums with the opportunity to expand and grow, as they adapt during these difficult times. The Biennale of Sydney recently announced their decision to close their exhibitions and move online, and Art Basel will host virtual booths for all 231 featured galleries.

In an effort to give viewers the freedom to explore their collection, the Glenbow Museum in Calgary has begun Glenbow From Home. The initiative allows access to virtual tours, online collections and educational videos, as a means of providing “inspiration, beauty, and most importantly, a sense of connection to the people and world around us,” according to the museum’s website.

Viewers can familiarize themselves with Canadian art by strolling through The Royal Ontario Museum and The Vancouver Art Gallery via the Google Arts & Culture platform or expand their knowledge of Indigenous art through the Canadian Museum of History’s Online Exhibition of Inuit Prints and virtual access to Alex Janvier’s Morning StarGambeh Then.’ To learn more about the history of the popular Christmas classic, The Nutcracker, The National Ballet of Canada is offering an online photographic exhibition.

Galleries and museums are not the limit. While travelling is currently off-limits, you can explore sites like Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal and the Uffizi Gallery from the comfort of your home. Google Arts & Culture even allows individuals to search sites by location, via their interactive map.

As we self-isolate and practice social distancing for the next couple of months, viewers can take this opportunity to visit locations they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford, or have time to visit amid their busy schedules. So sit back, get comfortable and use art as a way to de-stress.

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