• Leslie

World Class Museums To Enjoy Online For Free

Updated: Sep 2




Here's my guide to the best virtual museums you can visit online at home from the comfort of your couch or computer.


Many world class museums have released some or all of their collections online. Or they've partnered with Google Arts & Culture to make collections accessible in high resolution. Some museums have used the technology that powers Google Street View to let you zoom in to see floor plans or specific art works.


If you can't travel for any reason, this is a splendid time to travel virtually to a museum of your choice. There's an almost dizzying array of virtual options. It's not quite like walking through a museum. But it has its own strange pleasures.



The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli, 1485-86 -- star of Florence's Uffizi Gallery


World Class Museums With Online Collections and Virtual Tours For At Home Viewing


1. Uffizi Gallery, Florence Italy


Art lovers are rushing to the Virtual Uffizi Gallery Facebook page. Launched a week ago, the page already has over 50,000 followers.


The Uffizi is one of Europe's best museums, housing priceless treasures of Italian Renaissance art collected by the powerful Medici family. The Uffizi has the world's best collection of Gothic and Renaissance art.


This is where you can admire Sandro Botticelli's The Birth of Venus and Primavera, Laocoön and his Sons, and Raphael's Portrait of Pope Leo X with Two Cardinals. Install the Google Arts & Culture App to explore the entire collection. Click here for my comprehensive guide to the Uffizi Gallery and here for must know tips to prepare for your museum visit.



the British Museum in London


2. British Museum, London England


In London's artsy Bloomsbury area is one the world's foremost museums, the British Museum. Opened in 1753, it's a universal museum, holding a massive collection of the world's most important historic artifacts. It seeks to provide a cross cultural understanding of art owned by "humanity."


But it's owned by humanity in name only. Many of the goodies on display date from England's reign as a major world super power. It's utterly amazing how much stuff the Brits gobbled up, with their obsessive fervor for quirky collecting. Like the hotly disputed Elgin Marbles taken from the Pantheon.


The British Museum allows virtual visitors 360 views of the Great Court, the ancient Rosetta Stone, and the Egyptian mummies. You can also find hundreds of artifacts on the museum’s virtual tour that can be enlarged, with links to curator descriptions of the pieces.



the Solomon Guggenheim Musee in NYC


3. Soloman R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City


Google’s Street View feature lets visitors virtually tour the Guggenheim’s famous spiral staircase designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. From there, you can see incredible masterpieces from the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, Modern, and Contemporary art periods.


Visit the museum's popular online collection. There, you'll find some of the Guggenheim's most famous works, including Vasily Kandinsky's Composition 8 (the most popular piece in 2019), Jackson Pollack's Alchemy, and Edouard Manet's Before the Mirror. You can also check out the Guggenheim's blog, with in-depth analyses of artists and art works.



Claude Monet, Woman with a Parasol, 1875


4. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


The National Gallery of Art is home to some of the most amazing paintings in the world. Plus, as a Smithsonian branch, it's free to visitors.


But since you can't visit right now, the museum features two online exhibits through Google. The first is an exhibit of American fashion from 1740 to 1895. The second is a collection of works from Johannes Vermeer, the famous Dutch Baroque painter.


The museum also has a rotating collection of museum highlights online. The most famous pieces will wow you -- Pablo Picasso's Family of Saltimbanques, da Vinci's Portriat of Ginerva de' Benci, Vincent Van Gogh's Roses, Claude Monet's Woman with a Parasol, and Mary Cassat's The Boating Party.



Claude Monet, Houses of Parliament, 1904


5. Musée d’Orsay, Paris France


Ah, this is one of my favorite museums in Paris, housed in a beautiful converted railway station. You can't visit the beautiful museum right now. But you can virtually see dozens of famous works from French and European artists who toiled in Paris between 1848 and 1914. You'll see artworks from Monet, Cézanne, Gauguin, and so many other artists.


In particular, the d'Orsay is a Van Gogh treasure trove. You can inspect his Self Portrait, Starry Night, Dr. Gachet, The Church at Auvers, and The Siesta. Other masterpieces at the d'Orsay include Manet's Luncheon on the Grass and Olympia, Paul Cezanne's Card Players, Claude Monet's Houses of Parliament, and Auguste Renoir's Moulin de la Galette.


Click here for my comprehensive guide to 25 must see masterpieces at the Orsay and here for must know tips for visiting the popular museum.



Michelangelo, The Rebellious Slave, 1513 -- originally intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II


6. Louvre, Paris France


The Louvre is Paris' iconic landmark and the world's most visited museum. This treasure trove of history is closed right now. Unfortunately, it doesn't have an arrangement with Google Arts & Culture.


But the Louvre does offer free virtual tours of some of its important exhibits, like the Egyptian Antiquities, Napoleon's Rooms, the Medieval Louvre, and works by Michelangelo. Via my blog, you can also explore the Louvre's underrated masterpieces or what I think is the best painting in the Louvre, Theodore Gericault's Raft of the Medusa.


If you're a Beyonce fan, her recent music video featured pieces from the Louvre. Now, you can follow the Beyonce Louvre Trail.



Paul Cezanne, Portriat of Ambroise Vollard, 1899


7. Paris Museums Collections


In a collective effort, Paris museums have made 100,000 images of artworks from Paris museum collections freely available to the public. This includes digital downloads of masterpieces by artists including Rembrandt, Gustave Courbet, and Eugène Delacroix. Here's the digital collections portal.



the Spy Museum in Washington D.C.


8. The Spy Museum, Washington D.C.


The Spy Museum is always a crowd pleaser. But if you'd like to avoid crowds, you can just visit online.


The Spy Museum gives you 360 degrees views of every room. It's also got an amazing Pinterest account, featuring photos of its precious artifacts. The Spy Museum even has a list online of the 10 most important pieces in its collection, including the Enigma Machine that Germany used in WWII to secretly communicate.



Raphael, School of Athens, 1509 -- in the Raphael Rooms of the Vatican Museums


9. The Vatican Museums, Vatican City


I recently visited the Vatican Museums twice during a trip to Rome. The Vatican Museums are the public art and sculpture museums in the Vatican City complex. The works in the Vatican are invaluable crowning glories of Western art. They tell stories of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the history of the Catholic Church, and the birth of the Renaissance.


You can take an online virtual tour of the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel, the Pio Clementino Museum, and the Raphael Rooms.


I've also written a lengthy piece on 18 of the the Vatican's must see masterpieces. And a piece on Michelangelo's Last Judgment, which is on the Sistine Chapel altar wall.



the Dali Theater and Museum in Figueres Spain. The building looks like it has goosebumps.


10. The Dali Theater Museum, Figueres Spain


This is a delightfully eccentric single artist museum in Salvador Dali's hometown of Figueres Spain. Designed by Dali himself, the pink bread encrusted museum is a surrealistic object itself. I've written a complete guide to the Dali Museum. But you can also see some of its 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).



Van Gogh, Almond Blossom, 1890


11. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam


The Van Gogh Museum boasts the largest collection of paintings by the Post-Impressions master Vincent Van Gogh, who's known for his colorful sunflowers, vivid landscapes, and searing portraits. Online, you can see panoramic views of the museum rooms.


The museum offers almost 1500 images of paintings to inspect. There's also a 360 virtual tour of its Sunflower Gallery, with paintings from five international museums.



Rembrandt, The Night Watch, 1642


12. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam


If you love Dutch art, this is your chance to check out the preeminent source. The Rijksmuseum is well represented on Google Arts & Culture, with 150,000 items on display.


You'll find masterpieces by Rembrandt (The Night Watch, The Jewish Bride) Vermeer (The Milk Maid), and Franz Hals (The Wedding Portrait) on their virtual tours. There's also a Google Streets View of its grounds.



Van Gogh, Irises, 1889


13. J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, Los Angeles


Designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Richard Meier, the world famous Getty Center in southern California opened to the public in 1997. The Getty Museum has an outstanding online virtual tour with Google Arts & Culture. It even has an outdoor virtual tour, which uses photography and time-lapse videos to enliven the experience.


There are 15,000 paintings and artifacts to see with accompanying audio explanations. Check out the Getty's most famous pieces -- Van Gogh's Irises and Rembrandt Laughing, Renoir's La Promenade, and the Lansdowne Herakles sculpture from Roman antiquity.



Salvador Dali, The Persistence of Memory, 1931


14. Museum of Modern Art, New York City


The venerable MOMA was the first museum solely dedicated to modern art. It has 84,000 pieces art on display online.


It's seminal masterpieces include works by Jackson Pollack, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, and the ever popular Impressionists. MOMA's most famous piece is Van Gogh's Starry Night.



The Marilyn Diptich, Andy Warhol, 1962


15. Tate Modern, London England


The Tate Modern is my favorite museum in London, a city overflowing with marvelous free museums. Opened in 2000, it's housed in the former Bankside Power Station. The industrial look seems fitting for its cutting edge art.


Among other modern art masterpieces, you can clap your eyes on Andy Warhol's Marilyn Diptych, Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, Amadeo Modigliani's Peasant Boy, Pablo Picasso's Nude Woman in a Red Armchair, Georgio de Chirico's the Uncertainty of the Poet, and Henri Matisse's The Snail, and Salvador Dali's Lobster Telephone.


You can navigate the Tate Modern via Google Street View or explore its digitized masterpieces online. The Tate is to launch free online film tours of Andy Warhol (April 6) and Aubrey Beardsley (April 13) exhibitions on their YouTube channel.



Leonardo da Vinci, Virgin of the Rocks, 1483


16. National Gallery, London England


London's National Gallery is an incredibly diverse museum, featuring 2,000 European paintings from the 13th to the 19th centuries. You'll find familiar names like Rembrandt, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, J.M.W. Turner, Monet, and Van Gogh.


The most famous painting on display is Leonardo da Vinci's The Virgin of the Rocks. But Van Gogh's Sunflowers also draws hordes of admirers. Wherever you are, you can take a virtual tour.



the Velázquez entrance of the Prado Museum in Madrid Spain


17. The Prado Museum, Madrid Spain


The Prado Museum in Madrid is Spain's cultural jewel. It boasts one of Europe's finest and most sensuous painting collections. 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. Here's my complete guide to visting the Prado.


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.





18. The Reina Sofia, Madrid Spain


Opened in 1992, the Reina Sofia is Madrid’s 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 star of the Reina Sofia is Guernica, Picasso’s grim depiction of the seemingly casual Nazi bombing of Guernica Spain in 1937.


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



a famous portrait of England's most notorious king -- Hans Holbein the Younger, Portrait of King Henry VIII of England


19. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid Spain


Housed in the Villahermosa Palace, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is named after art collector Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza.


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.



head of a Tyrannosaurus Rex in the Museum of Natural History


20. Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington,

D.C.


Washington D.C.’s Museum of Natural History is one of the most visited museums in the world. You can inspect some of its wonderful treasures with an online virtual tour of the entire grounds.


Viewers head into its rotunda and receive a comprehensive 360 room by room walking tour of its most exceptional exhibits, including the Hall of Mammals, Insect Zoo, and Dinosaurs and Hall of Paleobiology.


In general, the Smithsonian museums have also released 2.8 million images into the public domain. They're searchable, shareable, and downloadable via the museum’s Open Access platform. The Smithsonian will continue to digitize and publish their collections.



the State Hermitage Museum, housed in the Winter Palace of the former Russian Emperors


21. The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg Russia


The State Hermitage is one of the world's best museums. It's the second largest museum in the world. It's so large that it's impossible to tackle in one real life visit anyway. Instead, you can explore its artsy endless halls with the Google Art Project guide.


Alternatively, check out the Hermitage website, which boasts a large digital archive with very convenient navigation. In the Highlights section, you'll find the Hermitage's most significant pieces: Faberge eggs, sculptures, and jewelry.


Some of its world class paintings include Rembrant's Danae and The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Matisse's Dance, Titian's Danae, and Kandinsky's Composition VI. Other Russian museums with significant online collections can be found here.



Boy Blowing Bubbles, Édouard Manet, 1867, Gulbenkian Museum


22. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon Portugal


If you're pining for Portugal, Lisbon's Calouste Gulbenkian Museum has excellent online viewing options. Thanks to a wealthy oil magnate, this gem of a museum is stuffed with a stunning range of treasures spanning 4,000 years. It's one of the world's largest and best private art collections, compiled over 40 years.


The museum has a 360 tour of the Founder’s Collection and the Modern Collection galleries. It also has an extensive online collection.



atrium of the beautiful Tate Britain in London


23. Tate Britain, London England


The Tate Britain may be London's most beautiful museum. It boasts a domed rotunda, beautiful spiral staircase, terrazzo floors, and Victorian details. Built in the late 19th century, the Tate Britain underwent an extensive renovation completed in 2013. The result is an ultra pretty museum experience.


The Tate Britain is home to J. M. W. Turner’s watercolors and Francis Bacon’s abstract religious triptychs and screaming popes. Some of Tate Britain's most famous paintings are here, including Sir John Everett Millais’ Ophelia, John William Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shalott, and John Constable’s Flatford Mill. Of special note, there are 8 rooms dedicated to Turner, one of Britian's greatest and most famous artists.


And you can enjoy it all online with Google Arts & Culture.



Antonio Canova, Venus Italica, 1822–23


24. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City


The Met is the largest museum int he United States. It has an extremely good online collection. There are over 200,000 works on Google Arts & Culture. The Met also offers a 360 tour, consisting of 6 videos. The tour showcases different spaces inside the Met from unique angles.


Check out the Met's best pieces -- Georgia O'Keefe's Cow's Skull, Van Gogh's Self Portrait with a Straw Hat, Monet's Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies, Jacques Louis David's The Death of Socrates, and Antonio Canova's famous sculpture Venus Italica.



big chunks of a domineering Emperor Constantine, pieces of the Colossus of Constantine


25. The Capitoline Museums, Rome Italy


If you love ancient Greco-Roman sculpture, the Capitoline Museums have a virtual tour of its floorplans and collections. You can also examine its exhibits on Google Arts & Culture.


The Capitoline Museums is Rome's oldest museum complex, sitting atop a beautiful Michelangelo-designed square, the Piazza dei Campidoglio on Capitoline Hill. It gives you a unique look at Rome's ancient imperial history. If you're a history or archaeology buff, this is a must see site in Rome.


The Capitoline Museum boasts an enormous array of ancient Roman, medieval, and Renaissance art -- statuary, paintings, and relics. The most famous pieces are the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius, Dying Gaul, Medusa, Capitoline Venus, Spinario, and Bust of Commodus.



Raphael, Self Portrait, 1506


26. Raffaello Exhibit, Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome


2020 marked the 500 year anniversary of Renaissance master Raphael's Death. In honor of the great artist, Rome planned a landmark exhibition. 200 paintings had been gathered from all over Italy, from the Vatican Museums, and on loan from major museums worldwide.


Titled RAFFAELLO, the exhibition was planned to run from March 5th – June 2nd. But it was closed after several days. Fortunately a free virtual tour is now available. It's narrated in Italian. But you can still admire the beauty of the art works.



Aca Pacis, the Altar of Peace


27. Ara Pacis | Museum of the Altar of Peace, Rome Italy


The Ara Pacis Museum is dedicated to a single item -- an ancient arch dedicated to the gods. The arch was built by soon-to-be emperor Augustus, who had just pacified the barbarians. This victory marked the beginning of the Pax Roman, a 200 year golden age where arts and architecture flourished.


Opened in 2006, the altar-museum is housed in a modern pavilion designed by American architect Richard Meier. Examine all the intricacies of the altar with the museum’s virtual tour here.



the original Caryatids from the Erechtheion, on display in the Acropolis Museum


28. The Acropolis Museum, Athens Greece


In 2009, Athens opened a gorgeous new museum, the Acropolis Museum.

Designed by French-Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi, it's a $200 million state of the art rebuttal to the British Museum's claim that Athens had nowhere to properly store and display the Elgin Marbles, disputed statuary from the Parthenon's frieze.


The Acropolis Museum recreated the Parthenon friezes for display. It's also home to 5,0000 year old artifacts excavated from the Acropolis, home to the Parthenon. Both the ruins and the neighboring museum are free to explore virtually on Google Maps.



the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, in Naples Italy


29. Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, Naples Italy


Located in the Capodimonte Palace, the Capodimonte Museum houses a collection of fine and decorative arts mostly from Naples. The core of its collection was compiled by the powerful Farnese and Bourbon families.


The Capodimonte Museum has works by Caravaggio, Masaccio, Titian, Raphael, El Greco, Bruegel, and Sebastiano del Piombo (who also decorated the Villa Farnesina in Rome). The museum's most famous painting is probably The Gypsy Madonna by Correggio. You can visit the museum's online collection here.


Thanks to the museum's collaboration with Google Arts & Culture, the cultural and artistic gems of the Capodimonte Museum can be admired online from home. The online Google Art & Culture platform contains over 536 works of art. The Google Street View tool allows visitors to enjoy 14 themed stories and virtual tours of museum masterpieces.



inner courtyard of Picasso Museum in Barcelona


30. Picasso Museum, Barcelona Spain


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 his work, 4000 pieces, certainly the best collection in Spain. The best part of the museum is where it's housed -- in five glorious adjoining medieval palaces.


You can browse the highlights of the 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.


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



the Artemis statue in the courtyard of the Isabella Stewart gander Museum in Boston


31. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston MA


Ah this is one of my favorite museums in the United States. If you're a museum or art lover, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a must see site in Boston Massachusetts. I just adored it.


The museum houses gorgeous paintings from the Italian Renaissance and Dutch Golden Age in an exquisite Venetian-style palazzo. The collection was assembled by Gardner herself, who was a wealthy maverick and avid art collector.


Gardner carefully curated and installed her collection amid the three floors of intimate gallery spaces and the interior courtyard with a skylit roof. Each room is named and sumptuously decorated. In effect, the museum is a total work of art with Gardner as the installation artist. You'll find pieces by John Singer Sargent, Rembrandt, Francisco Zurburan, Titian, and Sandro Botticelli.


Here's my complete guide to the Gardner Museum. You can also take a virtual tour through Google Arts & Culture. If you've never watched the fascinating introductory video on the museum's homepage, now's the perfect time.



Claude Monet's water lilies at the Musee de L'Orangerie in Paris



32. Musee de L'Orangerie, Paris France


Paris' Musée de l'Orangerie, or the Orangerie Museum, is one of the best small museums in Paris. It's a quick 10 minute walk from its more popular sister museum the Musée D'Orsay. And it's completely worth the detour, a hidden gem in Paris just waiting for avid fans of the Impressionist painter Claude Monet.


The Orangerie's main claim to fame is its famed collection of Monet's water lilies, some of which can also be found at the equally stunning Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris' 16th arrondissement.


In 1927, the water lilies were set in massive curved panels and installed in two adjoining oval shaped rooms in the new museum. Some art historians call the Orangerie the world's first "art installation" because the space was designed specifically for Monet's water lilies.


Here's my complete guide to the Orangerie. You can also visit the museum masterpieces virtually on Google Arts & Culture.



Marc Chagall, The Birthday, 1887, at the Guggenheim Bilbao


33. Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao Spain


Who can argue with the emblematic Guggenheim Museum? Inaugurated in 1997, Frank Gehry's twisting shimmering museum is the star of the underrated city 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 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, and Anselm Kiefer.


Via Google Arts & Culture, you can explore the Guggenheim Bilbao. The online offering includes cinematographic photos, videos, and guided tours of masterpieces from the collection.



Andy Warhol, silkscreen of Botticelli's Renaissance painting The Birth of Venus, 1984


34. Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh PA


This wonderful single artist museum celebrates Pittsburgh's hippest native son, who made himself a world famous Pop artist. As the Prince of Pop, Andy Warhol was a hugely significant artist of the second half of the 20th century. Warhol cannily merged superficial commerce and fine art, popularizing robotic everyday images.


Opened in 1994, the Andy Warhol Museum is a chic urban venue. It's an immersive and well curated museum. The museum has 7 floors in chronological order. You'll see seminal works from the 1940s to Warhol's death in 1987, with explanations of Warhol's creative process.


The Warhol Museum has some of its art and archives online here. You can read about Warhol's life here. If you want to see more Warhol work, you can read my guide and find other Warhol's pieces on Google Arts & Culture.



Van Gogh, Self Portrait, 1887


35. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago IL


The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the best, and incredibly diverse, museums in the United States. It has the best collection of Impressionist paintings outside Paris and a spectacular modern art section.


The museum's standout masterpieces include Grant Wood's American Gothic, Georges Seurat's Sunday on La Grand Jatte, Andy Warhol's Liz #3, Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, Joan Mitchell's City Landscape 1955, and Monet's Stacks of Wheat.


You can now tour the renowned museum on Google Arts & Culture. If you're interested in interiors, take a virtual tour of the Thorne Miniature Rooms. If you want to explore ancient Roman ruins, there are over a 1,000 pieces online, including a noseless bust of Emperor Hadrian. The museum is also hosting a virtual exhibition of the Spanish artist El Greco online.



Museo Napoleonico in Rome


36. Museo Napoleonico, Rome Italy


Housed in the Palazzo Primoli, this Roman museum is dedicated to the period of Napoleon and his connection to Italy. Located just north of the Piazza Navona, the museum contains the collections of Count Giuseppe Primoli. He was the great grandson of Joseph and Lucien Bonaparte.


Primoli's aim was to present the imperial family from his own private point of view. The museum is still arranged as he envisioned it. You'll find painting, artifacts, sculptures, Napoleon's outfits, books, memorabilia, etc. If you're a history buff, this museum is for you.


The Museo Napoleonico has an excellent multimedia virtual tour. You can take a 360 tour of the collection. Or you can go to the photo gallery, click on a specific photo, and get a wealth of information.



Paolo Veronese, Rape of Europa, 1570 -- in the Doge's Palace


37. The Doge's Palace, Venice Italy


Set in St. Mark's Square, the Doge's Palace or Palazzo Ducale is the very symbol of Venice and a must see site in the city. This pink and white marble Gothic-Renaissance building was the official residence of the doges who ruled Venice for more than 1,000 years. It was held Casanova in a cell, but he dramatically escaped


Aside from the gorgeous rooms and staircases, there's some fantastic works of art on display: Veronese's Rape of Europe and The Triumph of Venice, many paintings and ceilings by Tintoretto, and Tiepolo's Neptune Bestowing Gifts upon Venice.


You can tour the Doge's Palace virtually on Google Arts & Culture, take a 360 tour of the exterior, or take a 360 tour of the city of Venice itself. Click here for my guide to all of Venice's must see sites.



the Belvedere Palace in Vienna Austria


38. The Belvedere Palace, Vienna Austria


The Belvedere Palace is one of Vienna's most visited tourist spots and an important UNESCO site for its showy architectural ensemble. The Belvedere is also one of Europe's most important museums.


The Belvedere's a haven of Baroque and Austrian art from the 19th and 20th centuries. Its main claim to fame is the world's largest collection of Gustav Klimt paintings, including the world famous The Kiss. It also boasts masterworks by Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka, two important Expressionist painters.


Here's my complete guide to visiting the Belvedere Palace. You can also tour it virtually on Google Arts & Culture. There's also an online exhibit dedicated to The Kiss. If you like Klimt's gold toned art nouveau pieces, I also have a guide on every place to find Klimt art work in Vienna.



Albrecht Durer, Self-Portrait at the Age of Twenty Eight, 1500


39. Alte Pinakothek, Munich Germany


Munich's most touted museum is the Alte Pinakothek. The museum shows off a collection of European masterpieces from the 14th to 19th centuries.


You'll see a goodly number of paintings from the Italian Renaissance, including works by da Vinci, Raphael, Botticelli, and Titian. You'll also find Albrecht Durer's mysterious Self Portrait, and other old master treasures.


You can virtually tour the Alte Pinakothek online at Google Arts & Culture, where they have a massive collection. I also like this Rick Steve's video about the museum.



cloister of the Museum of Fine Arts in Seville Spain


40. Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla, Seville Spain


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 in Seville Spain.


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.



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


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

Spain


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.



the beautiful Rodin Museum in Paris, housed in the Hotel Biron


42. Musee Rodin, Rodin Museum, Paris France


Opened in 1919, the Rodin Museum is a shrine to the complex life and oeuvre of one of France's most revered artists, Auguste Rodin. Rodin is considered the father of modern sculpture. Rodin's titular museum is housed in the 18th century Hotel Biron, a romantic mansion where Rodin created some of his greatest works.


The museum's permanent collection includes many iconic Rodin sculptures and works from Rodin's brilliant student Camille Claudel. The Rodin Museum also has a vast and verdant sculpture garden. In it, Rodin hand placed some of his favorite and most iconic sculptures.


The Rodin Museum has added some online audio tours. You can take a virtual tour of his famous sculpture The Thinker, read stories about Rodin's life, and view and learn about 40 of the figures in his masterpiece The Gates of Hell. You can also explore over 300 Rodin sculptures on Google Arts & Culture. Here's my complete guide to Paris' Rodin Museum, if you want to know more.



the gorgeous second floor of the Picasso Museum showing his piece Grand Nu au Fauteil Rouge


43. Musée National Picasso, Picasso Museum, Paris France


Paris' Picasso Museum is a fantastic single artist museum. It holds one of Paris' most treasured art collections, shown off in an elegant private mansion in the Marais.


What I love most about the Picasso Museum is that it houses all the art that Picasso himself couldn't part with. It's a personal collection that he created, curated, lived with, and kept nearby his entire life. The museum showcases all the artistic periods of his long life, all the women he romanced, and reveals his extraordinary range and talent.


Here's an excellent series of audio tours of Picasso Museum masterpieces. The museum itself doesn't yet have a very good online collection. But you can check out virtual tours of the museum on YouTube here and here. Smarthistory offers 13 virtual tours of seminal Picasso works. And you get explore Picasso paintings on Google Arts & Culture.


Here's my complete guide to visiting the Picasso Museum in Paris.



facade of the Palace of Versailles


44. The Palace of Versailles, Versailles France


The Palace of Versailles has opened its digital doors. Built by the Sun King Louis XIV, the Palace of Versailles is the most ornate and famous royal chateau in France, located just outside Paris. Once behind closed doors, the 17th century palace is now yours for digital viewing at home.


The palace has partnered with Google Arts & Culture to present virtual exhibits online. Google takes users on a journey of the palace's rich decor and art collection of over 22,000 pieces. You can also take a plethora of amazing virtual tours on the Palace of Versailles' website. Nothing is left out! You can see the Hall of Mirrors, the royal apartments, tour the famous Le Notre gardens, etc.


For the full scoop on everything you can see and read online, here's my guide to taking a digital tour of the Palace of Versailles. If you want to virtually tour other famous chateaux in France, here's a guide to that.



Andy Warhol Room in the Bernardo Museum


45. Bernardo Museum | Museu Colecção Berardo, Lisbon

Portugal


The Bernardo Museum is Lisbon's modern art museum. Located in the Belem district, it's a fabulous museum with over 1,000 works from the 20th and 21st centuries.


The ultra-white, minimalist gallery displays billionaire José Berardo’s eye-popping collection of abstract, surrealist and pop art. It includes art work by such luminaries as David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Francis Bacon, and Willem de Kooning. Picasso's early Tete de Femme from 1909 and Warhol's iconic Brillo Box are highlights.


You can take virtually visit the museum on Google Arts & Culture. And here's a 360 virtual tour where you can admire the art up close.



the Cluny Museum in Paris


46. Cluny Museum, the National Museum of the Middle Ages,

Paris France

Are you a history buff who wants to be transported back to the late Middle Ages? Or are you, like everyone else it seems, just crazy for mythical unicorns? If so, the Musée Cluny is a must see site in the Latin Quarter of Paris.


It's truly one of my favorite museums in Paris. The museum's housed in the Hotel de Cluny, built in the 14th century and adjacent to an extant Roman bath.


The Cluny Museum is dedicated to all things from the Middle Ages. Its centerpiece is the famous Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. They're considered the Mona Lisa of tapestries and one of the greatest surviving medieval relics.


You can take a virtual YouTube tour of the museum here. And here's a 360 tour of the beautiful museum.



Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt, 1876, Georges-Jules-Victor Clairin

47. The Petit Palais, Paris France


Like its sister palace the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais was built for Paris’ 1900 World Fair. It became a museum in 1902. Designed in the Beaux-Arts style by famous architect Charles Girault, the Petit Palais is a charming small museum.

It houses French paintings, sculpture, and artifacts from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Petit Palais collection includes artists as diverse as Rembrandt, Fragonard, Delacroix, Cézanne, Courbot, Corot, Monet, Rodin, Sisley, Pissarro, and many others. There’s also a section dedicated to Roman and Greek art.


Though the museum isn't on Google Arts & Culture, it has a very good online collection for you to explore. You can also virtually visit its current temporary exhibition, In the Drawing Room, featuring Masterpieces of the Prat Collection. And here's a YouTube video of the museum's collection.



the elegant Palazzo Barberini in Rome


48. Palazzo Barberini | Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica,

Rome Italy


Palazzo Barberini is an underrated museum in Rome. But it's definitely an art lover's art gallery. Recent restorations give it an unapologetically grand wow factor. The museum holds some of Europe's classic paintings by the great masters.


The Barberini Palace is 12,000 square meters and has 187 rooms. It has beautiful staircases by Borromini and Bernini. It's home to one of Raphael's most famous paintings, La Fornarina. It's a painting of the "baker's daughter," whom Raphael had fallen in love with while fresco painting in the Villa Farnesina.


Other master works include Caravaggio's Narcissus and Judith and Holofernes, Holbein's Henry VIII, and the ceiling fresco by Pietro da Cortona.


You can take a live tour with a museum guide here, a virtual tour with a museum curator on YouTube here, and get a 360 view of the current exhibit on Claude Monet here. For my complete guide to this lovely museum, click here.



Frank Gehry's Louis Vuitton Foundation, designed to look like a sailing ship


49. Louis Vuitton Foundation


This is a sweet little museum tucked into a stunning Frank Gehry designed glass building located in the Bois de Bologne. The Foundation is new, just opening in 2014. It houses modern and contemporary art from the 1960s to the present.


The museum houses masterpieces by the likes of Egon Schiele, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeff Koons, Henri Matisse, and Ellsworth Kelly. It hosts temporary exhibits as well.


You can take a virtual tour here.




50. NASA Headquarters


If you geek out on science, you'll be pleased to know that NASA offers virtual tours of its research centers. Their extensive virtual tours combine videos, text, and 360 degree views. You may feel like you're on a school field trip.


Here are some virtual tours from NASA worth exploring:


NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, USA

NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia

The Space Telescope Operations Control Center at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland


* * * * * * *


This is just a sampling of world class museums to enjoy virtually from home. There are over 2500 virtual tours on Google Arts & Culture. If you'd like to explore more online travel and culture sites, here are my other virtual tour guides:


Virtual Rome

Virtual Lisbon

Virtual London

Virtual Barcelona

Virtual Paris

Virtual Versailles

Virtual Venice

Virtual France

Virtual Andalusia

Virtual French Chateaux

Virtual Paris Museums

Virtual Italian Museums

Virtual Spanish Museums


If you'd like to tour world class museums online, pin it for later.









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