Art is good for your mental health. And however you look at it, this pandemic has been stressful. There are some wonderful things resulting from the world shutting down, though. So many people are freely giving resources away to help ease the burden of quarantine. Luckily, whether you are wanting to browse art, feeling urged to create art, or suddenly teaching your children about art, the Covid-19 global pandemic has provided just what you need.
Free Art Museum Tours
Museums have always been a way to escape your daily life, but just when we need them most, the doors are shuttered. Wonderfully, though, there are a multitude of world class museums bringing tours and exhibits online.
Online museum visitors can see paintings extremely close in some instances, can read related information about a piece, and can even walk through the virtual hallways of a gallery to see how an exhibit progresses. You can sometimes listen as a curator gives a talk about a favorite painting or collection simulating the headsets you can rent when you visit a museum.
The Google Art Project
To help people discover and view important artworks online in high resolution and detail, Google partnered with more than 1200 cultural institutions from around the world to archive and document priceless pieces of art and to provide virtual tours of museums using Google Street View technology. The Google Art Project features fine art from the White House, the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar, and even São Paulo street art from Brazil. Here’s a complete list of the collections you can visit virtually.
In the event you don’t want to browse through a list of 1200 art museums, though, here are some highlights and interesting exhibits you can currently browse online.
- The National Gallery of Art: Founded in 1937, the National Gallery of Art is free and open to the general public. For those who aren’t in Washington, D.C., it also provides virtual tours of its gallery and exhibits. You can view its current exhibitions and listen to audio and video recordings of past lectures online. They’ve recently even added their newest exhibit. Curators worked for 2 years to put together the exhibit Degas at the Opéra. It was open for less than two weeks before the Gallery closed, so they made it virtual and added it to their website.
- the Dalí Theatre-Museum: Located in the town of Figueres in Catalonia, Spain, the Dalí Theatre-Museum is completely dedicated to the artwork of Salvador Dalí. It features many rooms and exhibits surrounding every era of Dalí’s life and career, and the artist himself is buried here. The museum offers virtual tours of the grounds and a few exhibits.
- The Louvre: You don’t have to book a ticket to Paris to check out some of the famous pieces in the world’s largest art museum. The Louvre has free online tours of three famous exhibits.
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: The works of Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Jeff Koons, and Franz Marc are just some of the 625 artists whose work are a part of the Guggenheim’s Collection Online.
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: Move at your own pace through the 360-degree room-by-room tour of every exhibit in the museum.
- Van Gogh Museum: You can get up close and personal with the impressionist painter’s most famous work thanks to Google Arts & Culture.
- Getty Museum: Los Angeles’s premiere gallery has two virtual tours, including “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry,” which is a closer look at food in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
- The Vatican Museum: The Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Raphael’s Room, are just some of the sites you can see on the Vatican’s virtual tour.
- Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum: Madrid’s must-see art museum has the works of some of the continent’s most celebrated artists like Rembrandt and Dali available online.
- Georgia O’Keeffe Museum: Six virtual exhibits are available online from this museum named for the “Mother of American modernism.”
- National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City: Dive into the pre-Hispanic history of Mexico with 23 exhibit rooms full of Mayan artifacts.
- British Museum, London: The Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies are just a couple of things that you’re able to see on a virtual tour of the museum.
- NASA: Both Virginia’s Langley Research Center and Ohio’s Glenn Research Center offer online tours for free. Also, you can try some “augmented reality experiences” via The Space Center Houston’s app.
- National Women’s History Museum: Have a late International Women’s Day celebration with online exhibits and oral histories from the Virginia museum.
- Metropolitan Museum of Art: Though the Met Gala was cancelled this year, you can still have a peek at the The Costume Institute Conversation Lab, which is one of the institution’s 26 online exhibits.
- High Museum of Art, Atlanta: This museum’s popular online exhibits include “Civil Rights Photography” — photos that capture moments of social protest like the Freedom Rides and Rosa Park’s arrest.
- Detroit Institute of Arts: Mexican art icon Frida Kahlo is the focal point of two of the four available online exhibits.
- Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam: The Golden Age of Dutch art is highlighted in this museum which includes the work of Vermeer and Rembrandt.
- National Museum of the United States Air Force: You can’t take a ride in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidential airplane, but you can check it out, in addition to other military weapons and aircraft, online in the Air Force’s official museum.
- MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art): New York’s extensive collection in the newly renovated space is available for view online.
- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: The 16 virtual exhibits include a special section on 21st Century Designer Fashion.
- The Museu de Arte de São Paulo: The Museu de Arte de São Paulo has a very particular way of displaying artwork in their galleries: paintings are hung on crystal easels that make them look like they’re floating mid-air. Check it out on their virtual gallery, which also features online exhibits of art from Brazil and beyond.
Free Art Classes
Perhaps instead of browsing galleries, you’d like to get messy and express yourself. Or, in your new and sudden role as a home-school teacher, you might be on the look out for some great online art classes you can do as a family. The incredibly creative and generous art community has come through in spades with free offerings of online art courses.
Mixed Media, Art Journaling, & Art Therapy Classes
- Transitions Journal: Roben Marie Smith teaches how to turn a vintage book into an art journal in this free mini course.
- Jeanne Oliver Classes: Jeanne Oliver offers over 30 free art classes on her website including collage, portrait painting, abstracts, and more.
- Toni Burt Classes: Toni Burt offers 4 courses showing how to make her stylized mixed media women.
- Dina Wakely free daily demos: On March 18, Dina Wakely began live streaming on Facebook daily. She shows a different technique and project everyday. So far, there are 3 weeks worth of videos you can binge on and they’ll continue to pile up for the foreseeable future.
- Abstract Collage with Laura Horn: Laura offers this mini-course on her website. My 6 year old daughter and I took it together and enjoyed it very much. Laura walks you through gathering items and papers around your house, splashing paint and making marks on the papers, and then putting together some lovely little collages with the papers you created.
- Soothe Me Art Journaling with Kasia Avery: Kasia provides 8 days of art journaling and self-care video prompts.
- 5 Minute Collage Art : Mararete Miller helps those short on time create art in just 5 minutes a day.
- Skillshare is offering 2 months free and has TONS of courses. I am a big fan of Clair Bremner if you’re looking for a place to start.
- the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York is also offering free online courses. The courses are definitely intended for an adult audience; however, a couple are geared towards art educators that could be useful for a newly anointed homeschool teacher.
- Nikon is offering all online courses free for the month of April.
Kids Art Courses
If your sole purpose is to find resources for children to learn about art, I know of a couple of resources:
- Carla Sonheim Kids Art Camps: Every summer Carla Sonheim offers free kids art camps online. I’ve done them several times with my kids. The lessons are fun and appropriate for all ages. She has 10 classes available for free on her website at the time I published this.
- Mo Willems, famed author of the Piggy & Froggy and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus books hosted a free webcast every afternoon for 3 weeks walking kids through story and drawing exercises. The Kennedy Center for Arts archived all of the LUNCH DOODLES episodes on this handy webpage for you to reference.
- Dav Pilkey, author of the Captain Underpants and Dog Man series, is releasing weekly videos on Fridays incorporating art, reading, and writing activities. You can view all the past and current videos on the “At Home” web page.
If you know of other great resources I should add to this list, please drop a line in the comments and I will update the page. This is a time for us to come together!