Five of the best US virtual museum tours for your international culture fix
From the Met to the Mob, these are the American museums bringing US history into your living room
Continued efforts to lockdown against Covid-19 might have put all our travel plans on hold for the foreseeable future, but thanks to these American museums there’s nothing to stop a virtual hop across the Atlantic to explore some of the most fascinating art and culture that that States have to offer.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
New York’s cultural jewel, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Renowned for having some of the most beautiful collections in the world, now people can enjoy the Met's iconic spaces via the Met 360° Project, an award-winning series of videos offering virtual visitors the chance to engage with iconic art and architecture. Created using spherical 360° technology, the project allows viewers to experience the magic of standing in an empty gallery after-hours, witnessing a bustling space in timelapse, or float high above The Met Cloisters with a bird's-eye view. The museum has launched 26 virtual exhibitions and made 200,000 documented works digitally available, allowing viewers to discover art from nearly any era, including Chanel’s iconic suit.
The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois
Culture vultures are now able to enjoy some of the finest American pieces of art including Edward Hopper's Nighthawks and Grant Wood's highly detailed American Gothic accompanied by informative commentary. More than 40,000 of the works at the Art Institute have been digitised in high-resolution – a good place to start is with some of the museum’s essential works — zoom in to see each tiny dot in a A Sunday on La Grande Jatte or admire the brushstrokes in Monet’s Water Lilies. Start your virtual discovery here. >>
Related: The art galleries and theatres bringing London culture into our living rooms during lockdown
The Mob Museum, Las Vegas
The Las Vegas strip may have dimmed its lights for now, but you can still visit the Mob Museum, one of the destination’s most popular tourist attractions. Officially called the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, online visitors can journey through the gritty world of Prohibition-era America with a dedicated microsite that even features a 20s-style game. Players enter the mob-ruled world dodging suspicious cops, running other bootleggers off the road and throwing their alcohol stash at interceptors. Coupled with its mellow, blues-infused jazz soundtrack, the game is the best way to enjoy a piece of quintessential American history away from the museum’s Las Vegas home.
Taliesin West, Scottsdale
Taliesin West was designed and built by celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright (designer of the Guggenheim Museum in NYC). Recently designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, today it is part museum, a school of architecture and desert laboratory. Through the combination of a powerful 3D imaging laser scanner, sophisticated documentation and an immersive media platform, audiences can wander the hallways, explore rooms and furniture, most of which was designed by Wright himself. They can also stand on the edge of The Prow and view the stunning desert landscape and surrounding view which Wright described as ‘the rim of the world’. Step into Wright’s world here. >>
Iconic artworks from Puerto Rico
With more than 500 years of cultural heritage, Puerto Rico pulses with artistic expression and inspiration. Lin-Manuel Miranda (the man behind Hamilton) and Google Arts & Culture recently joined forces to digitise hundreds of Puerto Rican artworks for the first time ever, with an aim to preserve more than 4,000 works over the coming months. The hyper-detailed renditions were captured by Google Cultural Institute’s robotic Art Camera, a high-tech contraption which enables viewers to explore works down to the details of a brushstroke. The initiative includes works from the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña (ICP), Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico, Museo de Arte de Ponce and Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. Highlights of the project include Governor Ramón de Castro (1797), one of the best-known works by José Campeche y Jordán, a self-taught artist and one of the greatest 19th century Latin American Painters, and The Judge (1970), a vibrant collagraph print by Myrna Báez, one of Puerto Rico’s most important painters and printmakers.