Cultural institutions offer free virtual tours and online performances during social distancing

In light of Coronavirus concerns, many cultural institutions head online to offer an artistic experience straight from the comfort of your couch.

Social distancing is part of our new normal now, and there is an increased demand for inside activities. Rather than scrolling social media a hundred times a day, pass the time by taking a virtual trip to a museum or show.

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Google Arts & Culture has an extensive assortment of museum collections. The tech giant partnered with more than 500 museums and galleries around the world, from London’s National Gallery to Los Angeles’ Getty Museum, and even Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum. According to Fast Company, the platform includes online exhibits, a “street view” feature that lets you virtually tour the institution, and galleries of artwork, where you can take a closer look at individual paintings.

If you really have time on your hands, check out Russia’s famed State Hermitage Museum. The Hermitage is one of the world’s largest museums who recently released a five-hour long video tour of the entire museum. The video showcases 45 galleries, 588 pieces, and live performances.

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Paris’ iconic Musée du Louvre offers a virtual tour. You can wander the museum’s acclaimed Egyptian Antiquities, visit the remains of the Louvre’s own moat, and tour the Galerie d’Apollon, known for its jaw-dropping painted ceiling.

Institutions like New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art added commentary to their online galleries. The Met has the Artist Project, where you can listen to famous artists discuss their favorite parts of the museum’s collections, while MoMA has extensive YouTube offerings ranging from interviews with artists to a behind-the-scenes look at how the museum operates.


Due to Coronavirus concerns, New York City’s world-famous Metropolitan Opera is currently closed. However, opera fans can still stream past performances from home. The Met allows you to stream one per day, for free online. Each show will air at 7:30 p.m. EST on the Met’s website and apps, and will remain available to stream until 3:30 p.m. EST the next day.

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Symphony Performances

Symphony halls are also temporarily closing their doors and pushing performances online. Public radio station WKAR published a list of all of the performances set to come. Many classical artists are also performing from their own living room and posting videos and links to live streams on Twitter, including New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini’s recommendation, Igor Levit.

During this pandemic, the Berlin Philharmonic announced they will be making their “Digital Concert Hall” free. The service includes more than 40 high-definition, live broadcasts and an archive spanning six decades, including some of the best conductors and musicians of our time. The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center also has an extensive free online video library and will, too, conduct live streams during this time.

Broadway Shows

How about a Broadway show in your living room? Streaming service BroadwayHD allows you to see many of Broadway’s hit shows from the comfort of your home including “Cats,” “The King and I,” and “Sound of Music.” You can get a one-week trial for free or subscribe for $8.99 a month.

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World-Famous Monuments

If your more of a monument person, Google has you covered. The search engine has a wide variety of landmarks you can visit through their street view, including Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, the Roman Colosseum and the Egyptian Pyramids. The platform also recently launched the Heritage on the Edge initiative, which features five Unesco World Heritage sites under threat from climate change. The project includes 3D maps, augmented reality features, and expert opinions on how we can protect these treasured landmarks.

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Online Classes

Perhaps this down time will inspire you to take an online class. The Ivy League colleges are now offering more than 450 online courses for free. From humanities to computer science, now could be the perfect time to learn to code or open that book you’ve always intended to read. Check out the full list of courses available here.

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