Along with what seems like the entire world, galleries, museums and sites of importance worldwide, have indefinitely closed their doors to the public for the first time. Luckily for us, however, this period of turmoil has come during the age of information technology, therefore giving us the ability to nose around virtually where we physically cannot. As such, I've assembled some websites where you can go to explore geographic sites.
The importance of these institutions is highlighted and heightened both by our sudden inability to access them, and by the time for reflection, learning and creativity that many of us have now been granted, time that often encourages curiosity and is accustomed to expectations of easy entertainment. The heart wants what it can't have.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy writes succinctly: “As social distancing and stay-at-home orders have swept the country, many Frank Lloyd Wright sites that are normally open to the public have had to close their doors, just when they were gearing up for the spring touring season to begin... It is precisely at this time, when so many are shut inside, that we need to experience beauty and inspiration. Wright’s works bring people together in harmony with the natural world, reminding us that we are all connected, even when we’re apart.”
The Conservancy is uploading a short video tour of one of Lloyd's buildings every Thursday at 6pm BST until at least July 15th. The videos are uploaded onto their social media pages, but you can find a collated list on their website.
Fallingwater - Frank Lloyd Wright - 1935, Bear Run, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Every day at 7 pm, you will find a new link on their facebook page that takes you on a vibrant tour inside different historical locations throughout Egypt. Not only are you able to observe some incredibly well preserved artefacts, murals and buildings, but a silver lining of these virtual tours is that you are often invited beyond the rope, and given views from angles you wouldn't be able to access in person; the brightly coloured ceiling of the Tomb of Menna (circa 1400 –1352 B.C.) can be seen in exquisite detail, beautifully preserved for well over 3000 years in part due to it being cordoned off from intrusive flashing of cameras.
If you'd like to take a wander through Ancient Egypt, all tours are available on their website.
Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Barquq ceiling - Ahmad al-Tuluni - 1384-1386 CE, Cairo, Egypt
Tomb of Menna - N/A - c. 1400-1352 BC, Sheikh Abd el-Qurna Necropolis, Thebes, Egypt
The Red Monastery - N/A - c. 400 AD, Souhag, Egypt
Ben Ezra Synagogue - N/A - 882 CE-1892 AD, Cairo, Egypt
Anne Frank House (NL)
There is a long running joke with Amsterdam residents about the Anne Frank House in that it is the yardstick for measuring any and all lines we must queue in - it has only taken a worldwide pandemic to stop it from being seen from space. I kid, somewhat, but if you ever do want to visit in person make sure to book weeks in advance (at least) and bring a stool and a packed lunch for the wait. For the rest, now is your chance to get a 360 degree view.
This one isn't a tour, but the NMAAHC has recorded their artefacts online for you to browse through. Ever poignant, especially now, no matter your position on or in the current BLM movement, there is much to be learned from here and much to contemplate on. This will be of particular interest if you're someone who emotionally relates to objects via their contextual meaning (more on that here). Notable examples in the continuing struggle African-Americans face in the U.S.A. are visually represented in otherwise innocuous items; the dress Carlotta Walls - one of the Little Rock Nine - wore on her first day at an integrated school, shards of glass from the 16th Street Baptist Church Massacre, a receipt for the loan of slaves. It is something extremely powerful to read about the last known living slave to be taken from Africa, then watch the discovery of the ship, Clotilda, he was taken on.
Stereograph of deceased Confederate soldiers near a fence at Antietam, Maryland, 1862
Google Arts & Culture Collections
The Broad (US)
I'll admit I was completely unaware of this feature of Google until recently when I saw the Van Gogh Museum had a virtual tour and was redirected. Another one to book in advance, and now reopened to an even more limited amount of visitors, the Van Gogh Museum is rightly popular - I often went on my lunch break to revisit a particular piece, or join the free painting sessions they ran daily (which are presumed to recommence in the autumn) - it is well worth a visit; like me you may not be particularly drawn to Van Gogh's work, but you will be afterwards.
Other treats on offer include The Met, Tate Britain (where you can find Turner's permanent collection of stunning landscapes), Smithsonian (American Art, National Portrait, and Museum of Natural History), The National Gallery, Rijksmuseum, and even tours of The Palace of Versailles and the Eiffel Tower. You can even search street art by colour.
Another hidden gem is the youtube channel 'Infinite Drone' which showcases an audiovisual display of Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away.
Lastly, as many places are starting to reopen, The National Gallery in London remains closed to visitors, however they have taken the time to create an extensive collection of other ways to continue exploring online.
Palace of Versailles - Various - 1631-4, Yvelines, Île-de-France, France
Jack Kuzma - Macs - 2013, Samaritaien, Rue de l'Arbre Sec, Paris
250 Years in 90 Seconds - The Royal Academy of Art - 2020, RA Youtube
Beyond Scrolls & Screens - Christine Sugrue - 2020, Google Arts & Culture Lab
Outside Looking In (7 Gordon Parks Images That Changed American Attitudes Editorial) - Gordon Parks - 1956, Alabama, U.S.A.