Couch Culture: Museums with Virtual Tours

Self isolating? Need a culture fix? Let me take you to some of the world’s greatest museums with virtual tours and together we will explore the world’s greatest collections from your couch. You don’t need to leave your couch to see some the world’s greatest art objects.

Just because the museums are shut there is no reason not to visit a museum. Social distancing is not a problem when you explore with a laptop. No need to let quarantine keep you mentally cooped up. Let’s go on a virtual visit.

Couch Culture Museums with Virtual tours ornate golden model Tudor ship in Rijksmuseum

British Museum

Pop along to the British Museum website to explore their vast collection. Or you can visit the Museum of the World developed by the Google Cultural Institute that lets you swoop through time and space to select items to discover. Let’s say you fancy clicking on AD 650 in the Americas: you will be rewarded with the Fenton vase a Mayan ceramic. You can then listen to a clip and discover that the figures on the vase are accountants!

Courtauld Gallery

London’s Courtauld Gallery is closed for complete renovation. If, like me, you miss the calm beauty of the collection or want to discover what will be back on show when the gallery reopens, then you can go on a 3D gallery tour of what the Courtauld looked like before the builders moved in.


I visited the Hermitage just after the fall of the Soviet Union and was blown away by its scale and magnificence. It is on my very long list of places I want to go back to, now I can without leaving my sofa. With a piece of fortuitous timing, Apple has just released a 5 hour continuous shot tour of the Hermitage in St Petersburg to promote the new iPhone 11 Pro.


The Louvre is the most visited museum in the world. Queues usually snake around the pyramid entrance but now its doors are closed. For the time being you can wander at will from your laptop around the Louvre collection of Egyptian antiquities.


Crowds The Nightwatch Rembrandt Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Over in Amsterdam the Rijksmuseum is an old hand at letting visitors visit virtually. You can get up close and personal with the Nightwatch or virtually tour the Gallery of Honour. Once you’ve finished admiring Rembrandt’s work you can even do a Rembrandt course to learn how to draw like the master. I’m guessing that the online teacher is not going to grab my attempt and show it sneeringly to the whole class (who will be the cat and he’s impressed by nothing except food) as my real life school one did.


Museum Mile in Washington DC is packed full of incredible museums. When I visited the Smithsonian I was a bit over-awed. There is simply so much. You realise that you are standing on the edge of a vast continent that is full to the brim of incredible animals and rocks and land formations. Now on the Smithsonian website you can explore the building and collection in 360° amazement. Don’t forget to look up at the incredible ceilings which are every bit as stunning as the geology, gems and minerals on the second floor. Don’t worry, dinosaurs are available too.

Thyssen Bornemisza Gallery

If you had been intending to head to Madrid to see the Rembrandt and Amsterdam portraiture 1590 – 1670 exhibition, fret not. The Thyssen Bornemisza has a video that will allow you to virtually explore in 360° splendour. Once you’ve finished with Rembrandt then you can move on to explore the rest of the collection.

Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has closed its doors during the Covid-19 outbreak. You can still explore Van Gogh’s paintings on the museum website. A few years ago long queues formed to see all three version of Van Gogh’s sunflowers together. The exhibition was small but stunning and you did have to elbow your way past many other people to see the flowers. Over on the Van Gogh Museum Facebook page you can see 360° video of the show without people getting in the way or queuing or time travelling.

Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection is one of my favourite museums in the whole wide world. On the Wallace Collection website you can browse the collection clicking on individual works for a closer look. If you select the two views of Venice by Canaletto you can read about the paintings, zoom in really, really close and watch a video about the Vedute Room (room full of pictures of the grand tour like an album of holiday snaps but bigger) and the restoration of the paintings.

Google Arts and Culture

Google has teamed up with 2,500 museums, galleries and places all over the world to create Google Arts and Culture. You can go on Street View style tours of museums. Swoop over Machu Picchu or stroll through the Uffitzi Gallery without having to queue or explore Scott’s hut in Antartica. All those books that I intended to read whilst the museums are shut? I can see that I will be spending hours visiting all the galleries I really, really want to travel to but don’t have enough time or money to get to.

Which Museums with Virtual Tours are your favourite? Do you have any favourite online cultural museums that I have missed?

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