• Leslie

The Best Virtual Museums in Spain to Visit Online at Home

Updated: Jun 5




Here's my artsy wanderlust guide to the best virtual museums in Spain for at home culture vultures.


Do you need some digital destination inspiration for a future trip to Spain? Or just an injection of online Spanish culture? No problem! You can virtually tour Spain's best museums even if you're at home, right from your couch or computer.


Many of Spain's museums have partnered with Google Arts & Culture or have stand out online collections. Still others provide virtual tours, have added special online exhibits for virtual viewers, or can be visited via YouTube. You can take a delightful DIY tour of virtual Spanish museums without ever leaving your home.



Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights, c. 1480-1505, oil on panel


The Best Virtual Museums in Spain To Explore At Home


1. The Prado Museum Virtual Tour, Madrid


The Prado is special. It's Spain's cultural jewel, boasts one of Europe's finest and most sensuous painting collections, and is a must see site in Madrid.

The Prado opened in 1819 as the Royal Museum of Paintings. The artistic anchors of the Prado are Francisco Goya, Diego Velázquez, and Peter Paul Rubens. But there are also masterpieces by Titian, Bosch, and El Greco.


Now you can Prado in your PJs. If you want to take a virtual tour of the Prado, you can. The Prado recently broadcast a live video in which its director, Miguel Falomir, gave a 20 minute talk on Tintoretto’s famed Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet.


The Prado also has a 360 virtual tour of its Rubens exhibition and an impressive online collection of over 10,000 works of art. Smarthistory has a large cache of YouTube videos exploring many of the Prado's best works. The Prado also does a live one hour show on Instagram, also posted on Facebook, every morning at 10:00 am.



the Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres Spaiin, a surrealist object itself


2. The Dali Theater Museum Virtual Tour, Figueres


The Dali Theater Museum is a delightfully eccentric single artist museum in Salvador Dali's hometown of Figures Spain. Designed by Dali himself, the pink bread encrusted museum is itself a surrealistic object. I've written a complete guide to the Dali Museum.


But you can also see some of the museum's most famous pieces online. Check out the Mae West Room, the Labyrinth, the Rain Taxi, the courtyard of golden Oscar statues, and the painting of Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea (a clever double image). Google Arts & Culture also has an online exhibit about Dali in Spain.



courtyard of the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid


3. The Reina Sofia Virtual Tour, Madrid Spain


Opened in 1992, the Reina Sofia is Madrid’s fantastic modern art museum. Its collection is comprised entirely of art work from 1900 to the present.


There's a special focus on Spain's favorite sons, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali, and their respective schools of Cubism and Surrealism. The iconic star of the Reina Sofia is Guernica, Picasso’s grim depiction of the Nazi bombing of Guernica Spain in 1937.


The Reina Sofia recently tweeted a video showing the array of content it has online.

You can also take a virtual tour of the museum on Google Arts & Culture. If you want an online education about Guernica, watch this YouTube video.



Hans Holbein the Younger, Portrait of King Henry VIII of England


4. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum Virtual Tour, Madrid Spain


Housed in the Villahermosa Palace, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is named after art collector Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza. It's one of Madrid's foremost museums.


The museum covers every major period in Western art, from 13th century Italian Renaissance to 20th century Pop Art. It also has an important collection of 19th century American paintings not found elsewhere in Europe.


The museum offers virtual visits to both its permanent collection and temporary exhibits. You can also browse through thematic tours that center on fashion, food, love, and wine. You can also take a virtual tour of the Thyssen-Bornemisza on Google Arts & Culture.



inner courtyard of Picasso Museum in Barcelona


5. Picasso Museum Virtual Tour, Barcelona


Founded in 1963, the Picasso Museum in Barcelona was launched with a donation of 574 works by Picasso’s secretary, Jaime Sabartés. In 1970, Picasso himself donated 800 more pieces to the museum.


In this museum, you'll find one of the most extensive collections of Picasso's work, 4000 pieces, certainly the best collection in Spain. The museum is housed in five beautiful adjoining medieval palaces.


You can browse the highlights of the Picasso Museum's online collection here, though the images are rather small. You can take a virtual tour of the palaces here. The palace tour takes you on a private guided tour of the museum's architectural elements.


The museum is also posting daily on its Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. On Saturdays the Museum is presents audiovisual archives of museum performances and places them on its on the Youtube channel.


If you'd like more Picasso info, here's my guide to all the Picasso museums in Europe and my extensive guide to the Picasso Museum in Paris.



the Guggenheim Bilbao in Bilbao Spain


6. Guggenheim Bilbao Virtual Tour, Bilbao


Who can argue with the emblematic Guggenheim Museum? Inaugurated in 1997, Frank Gehry's twisting shimmering museum is the star of Bilbao Spain. The space age building is an awe-inspiring blend of titanium, glass, and limestone. The scaly exterior evokes a silvery fish and the wings of the building reimagine the wind-filled sails of a ship.


Outside, there's a veritable sculpture museum. Inside, the Guggenheim's modern art collection is on par with Europe's best modern art museums. You'll find works by Robert Motherwell, Yves Klein, Andy Warhol, Eduardo Chillada, Richard Serra, and Anselm Kiefer.


Via Google Arts & Culture, you can virtually explore the Guggenheim Bilbao. The interactive online offering includes cinematographic photos, videos, and guided tours of masterpieces from the collection. The Guggenheim Bilbao also has its own online collection with images and analyses of its seminal works.



Picasso Museum in Malaga Spain, housed in the Buena Vista Palace


7. Picasso Museum Malaga Virtual Tour, Malaga


Opened in 2003, the Picasso Museum in Malaga is housed in the Buena Vista Palace, a pretty combination of Renaissance and Mudejar architecture. Small but sweet, the museum holds 285 works donated by Picasso’s family members or held on permanent loan. Mostly from his grandson Bernard.


The collection spans Picasso's lifetime and gives a good overview. You won't find any masterpieces here. But highlights include Picasso's early academic studies, cubist pieces, and some of his last paintings from the 1970s.


The museum website provides virtual tours of Picasso's different creative periods and virtual tours of its current exhibitions. The museum also has a YouTube video that takes you through its collection.



the beautiful cloister of Seville's Fine Art Museum

8. Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla Virtual Tour, Seville


The Museo de Bellas Artes, or Museum of Fine Arts, is a smashing museum, quite lovely. It's known, after the Prado, as the "second art gallery in Spain." It's housed in a salmon colored former convent.


The museum has art from the middle ages to the 20th century. But it's most known for its collection of 17th century art from Spain's Golden Age, featuring Spain's top painters Zurbarán, Murillo, El Greco, and Velazquez. You'll see a lot of monks, balding saints, cherubs, and depictions of Christ.


You can take a virtual tour of the Seville Museum of Fine Arts' masterpieces on Google Arts & Culture. There are excellent online exhibits on Baroque masters and on the museum's superstar Murillo.



Ramon Casa Carbo, Julia, 1915


9. Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga Virtual Tour, Malaga


Opened in 2011, the Carmen Thyssen Museum was founded by Baroness Carmen Cerera Thyssen, the 5th wife of Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza (of Madrid museum fame). An art patron and socialite, she used her inheritance to become one of the world's foremost art collectors.


Located in the 16th century Palacio de Villalon, her eponymous museum holds 230 individual pieces. It features 19th century Spanish painting, with a focus on artists from Andalusia. The most famous painters in this collection are Zurburan, Sorolla, Zuloaga, and Romero Torres.


You can take a virtual tour of the Carmen Thyssen Museum on Google Arts & Culture. You an also take virtual tours on the museum's website.



Ignacio Zuloaga, Portrait of the Countess Mathieu de Noailles, 1913 -- gorgeous portrait!


10. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao Virtual Tour, Bilbao


Often overshadowed by the famous Guggenheim Bilbao, the Museo de Bellas Artes in Bilbao is nonetheless one of Spain's best museums. If you're an art lover, you should definitely visit in person one day.


Located in Bilbao's Abando neighborhood, the museum boasts over 10,000 art works, arranged chronologically from the 12th century to the present. It has works by Spanish artists Picasso, Goya, El Greco, Zurbaran, and Chillada, as well as many international artists.


You can explore the collection of the Bilbao Museum of Fine Arts on Google Arts & Culture.



“Apse of Sant Climent de Taull” by the Master of Taull in Barcelona's MNAC


11. Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya Virtual Tour,

Barcelona


This museum, dubbed the MNAC, is housed in the beautiful Palau Nacional, with spectacular views over Barcelona. The MNAC features the best Romanesque collection of mural paintings in the world, including art work gathered from churches, chapels and monuments.


The museum's collection ranges from all the way from Gothic art to modern art. You'll find works by El Greco, Velázquez, Gaudí, Ramon Casas, Julio González, and Dalí, among others.


You can explore the MNAC virtually on Google Arts & Culture. There are almost 1,400 items to explore and three 3D tours of the museum. The MNAC also has a good online collection on its own website.



the MACBA museum in Barcelona


12. Museu d'Art Contemporani (MACBA) Virtual Tour,

Barcelona


The MACBA is housed an enormous edifice designed by famed architect Richard Meier. It holds a sometimes brilliant and sometimes baffling and inaccessible permanent collection. Inaugurated in 1995, the MACBA is a power player on Barcelona's contemporary arts scene.


The permanent collection focuses on the second half of the 20th century. It features works in the areas of media, sound, and performance art from the 1960s and 1970s, including works by Bruce Nauman, Joan Jonas, and John Cage.


The museum isn't on Google Arts & Culture. But MACBA just launched its own 360 tour of the museum.



Apostolate paintings in El Greco Museum in Toledo, Spain


13. Museo del Greco Virtual Tour, Toledo


The Museo del Greco is a small intimate museum dedicated to the famed Mannerist painter El Greco. The Mannerists disavowed realism and instead sought to capture the underlying psychology of a subject. El Greco is best known for supernatural visions of tortuously elongated and twisted figures painted in colorful pigments. They still seem somewhat modern even now.


El Greco's titular museum in Toledo seeks to convey an understanding of El Greco's works and his influence on early 17th century Toledo. The museum is constructed to replicate El Greco's actual home in Toledo.


You can take a virtual tour of Toledo's El Greco Museum on Google Arts & Culture. And here's an excellent YouTube video about the art of El Greco in Toledo.



Sagrada Familia in Barcelona


14. Sagrada Familia Virtual Tour, Barcelona


The undisputed jewel of Barcelona is Sagrada Familia, Gaudí’s wildly creative opus. Construction began on the "Sandcastle Cathedral" in 1882 and it's still unfinished (but ongoing).


The exteriors' three facades (the Nativity, Passion, and Glory facades) are like huge altarpieces. The interior is the best and most luminous part. It's effectively a sculpture, reinvented as architecture. The nave is lined with pale columns that look like a forest, with trees branching out. And, in fact, Gaudí believed that "trees were buildings."


Sagrada Familia now provides an extensive virtual tour right on its website. You can visit the Passsion Facade, the Nativity Facade, the interior, the apse, the Cloister of the Rosary, the Western Sacristy, the Crypt, and Gaudi's Tomb. Smarthistory has a great YouTube video about the Sagrada Familia. And Rick Steves has a great audio guide.


Here's my own complete guide to visiting Sagrada Familia.



the mask like facade of Casa Battlo in Barcelona


15. Gaudi UNESCO Architecture in Barcelona, Virtual

Tours


Gaudi's Modernist masterpieces, now museums, are among Barcelona's must see and most visited sites. To many Catalonians, Barcelona is Gaudí. Or at least he's the city's unofficial saint. There's been no artist in history to have such an absolute influence on a city. Gaudí designed everything from mansions, to churches, to public parks in inimitable style.


Seven of Gaudi's creations in Barcelona are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including: Park Güell, Palau Güell, Casa Mila, Casa Vicens, Gaudi’s work on the Nativity facade and crypt of La Sagrada Familia (mentioned above), Casa Batlló, and the Crypt in Colonia Güell. I've added links to the ones you can tour virtually.


Here are my own comprehensive guides to: Gaudi architecture in Barcelona, Casa Battlo, Casa Mila, and Casa Vicens. If you're a Gaudi fanatic like me, you may also like my guides to Gaudi's Casa Calvet and El Capricho buildings.


If you'd like to travel virtually to other places in Europe, I've got guides for that too:


Virtual Rome

Virtual Lisbon

Virtual London

Virtual Paris

Virtual France

Virtual Andalusia

Virtual Barcelona

Virtual Paris Museums

Virtual Italian Museums

Virtual French Chateaux


If you'd like to explore the best virtual museums in Spain, pin it for later.



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