In mid-March, many big apple businesses, schools, and tourist attractions shut their doors over safety concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19. Though Broadway may be dark, many of the city’s most popular diversions have found ways to keep the lights on. Museums throughout the city are now offering free virtual tours and digital options. Anyone with an internet connection can now visit the city that never sleeps without ever leaving the couch.
Google as a Tour Guide
Many NYC museums have taken their collections online via the Google Arts & Culture platform, a helpful resource to bring virtual tours straight to your living room.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art brought an impressive amount of its museum online. View over 200,000 individual images or browse by collection. The Baroque collection alone has nearly 6,500 images available for perusal. If the number of images in the collections is too formidable, visitors can take a point-and-click tour of the museum at their own pace. The Met is also offering 27 curated online exhibits including Coco Chanel: Modernism and Christian Dior: The New Look. Rock that work-from-home sweatpants uniform while paging through a slideshow-style exhibit of intricate ball gowns.
The Museum of Modern Art
Art lovers with more contemporary tastes can view the collections at The Museum of Modern Art digitally. MoMA offers a plunge into the art and history of Sophie Taeuber-Arp, a central figure in the avant-garde movement at the beginning of the 20th-century, through an online exhibit. One of the museum’s most popular works, Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, is available in the Modern Art collection. The museum is not offering self-guided tours at this time.
The Guggenheim Museum
Architecture buffs can virtually visit The Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Take a self-guided virtual tour of the nautilus-inspired building while stopping to contemplate the works of art along the way. The Guggenheim currently offers five online exhibits and six collections in addition to the virtual tour.
Paving Their Own Way
Not every NYC Museum has used Google to bring their collections online. Some museums have digitally opened their doors using their own platforms.
The Frick Collection
The Frick Collection has created a very user-friendly interactive map. Visitors can click on the room they wish to view and either click and drag to see the art or select the icon at the bottom of the screen to begin an auto-tour of the selected room. Clicking on individual pieces of art yield more details about the piece.
The New-York Historical Society
From Harry Potter to Alexander Hamilton, The New-York Historical Society has made viewing their collections online easy. Descriptions of all online exhibits are available along with links to the virtual tours. Each exhibit is individually curated and the layouts vary between interactive articles, videos, and much more.
More Than Museums
Social distancing leaving the whole family feeling cooped-up? The NYC Parks Department is offering online tours of the city’s green spaces. Central Park is the most famous option available, but why not visit some of the city’s boroughs? Explore the Bronx via the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail. The interactive map has clickable pinned locations throughout the trail with images and fun facts about the points of interest.
Natural Areas Conservancy
If the parks weren’t enough to satisfy the craving for the great outdoors, the Natural Areas Conservancy has designed an interactive map that allows users to explore over 20,000 acres of nature around the city. Take virtual adventures through forests, wetlands, salt marshes, and waterways.
The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library has gone online and it’s more than just books! The Library has uploaded photo collections, manuscripts, design renderings, and nature drawings. They have an entire section devoted to New York City for visitors to get an in-depth look at the city through the centuries. The archives are more than static images. Featured collections, including one dedicated to choreographer Jerome Robbins, include video and audio as well.
New York Landmarks Conservancy
The New York Landmarks Conservancy has started a program called “Tourist in your own Town.” Organized by borough, the brief video tours take visitors around the city to well-known landmarks and hidden gems. There are over 60 videos to choose from including the picturesque Cloisters Museum and Gardens in upper Manhattan or The Old Stone House, a historic site where the British were defeated in the Battle of Brooklyn during the Revolutionary War.