If you don’t have the time or money to travel, have we got news: You can take a free, virtual tour of many of the best museums around the world, from Europe to Washington, D.C. All you need is your computer (and maybe a book about art history) to get started.
While there are innumerable museums you can visit from the comfort of your own home, here are a selection of our favorites.
1. The Louvre
If you can’t make it to Paris, visit this incredible museum online. Not only do you avoid waiting in a miles-long line before sunrise, you can also enjoy the spectacular galleries without having to hunt down your passport. You can find free online tours of some of the Louvre’s most important exhibits (such as the wildly popular Egyptian Antiquities hall) and take a 360-degree look at the museum. Don’t forget to look up at the spectacular ceilings! Plus, expand your knowledge by clicking around the artifacts to get insider info about their histories.
The NASA Space Center in Houston is definitely out of this world (sorry, sorry) but if Texas isn’t on your travel bucket list right now, don’t worry. NASA offers free virtual tours, complete with an animated robot named “Audima” as your tour guide. Click around the museum to get extra information about rockets and other space-related gear.
3. National Gallery of Art
If you’re visiting D.C., a trip to the National Gallery of Art is a must. Not only is the museum free, but it is incredibly well stocked with a wide variety of artwork. If you’re not visiting our nation’s capital, you can take a virtual tour of its gallery and exhibits. Don’t miss out on “Van Gogh’s Van Goghs: Masterpieces from the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam” or the stirring “Sculpture of Angkor and Ancient Cambodia: Millennium of Glory.” It’s not quite as good as the real thing…but you can get your museum fix while still in your pajamas.
It’s no secret that women run the world, and now there’s an entire museum dedicated to the hard work of our foremothers. Located in historic Alexandria, Virginia, the National Women’s History Museum was founded to integrate “women’s distinctive history and culture in the United States.” If you want to get educated and be inspired, check out their online exhibits. You can learn about everything from women in World War II to suffragettes to the rights of women throughout American history.
5. The Vatican Museums
A trip to Rome is expensive, time consuming and basically impossible if you have young children. But if the idea of museums curated by popes past fills you with joy, don’t worry –you can visit this one online, too. Filled with an enormous collection of art and classical sculptures, you can take a virtual tour of the museum’s grounds and most iconic exhibits…including the famous ceiling of The Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo himself.
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6. Toyota Automobile Museum
For those who don’t flip for art, the Toyota Automobile Museum offers an online tour. Since the actual museum is all the way in Japan, this is a good alternative for those who can’t shell out for a round-the-world trip. Scroll through the different galleries and look at the photos of the cars on display.
7. The Spy Museum
The Spy Museum in downtown D.C. is always a crowd favorite, but if you want to beat the crowds, just visit online. With 360-degree views of every room and a massive Pinterest account brimming with artifacts and photos, you hardly need to visit in person.