With D.C.’s many cultural meccas closed to visitors amid the pandemic, we can count the missing hoards of school trippers and tour buses clogging the National Mall and cluttering museum halls among the things contributing to the eerie silence of this spring.
A small bright side (besides fewer school trippers and tour buses) is many of our coveted art and cultural institutions have opened up virtual access to exhibits and collections to people all over the world. So if you’re lamenting not being able to take lunch break in the Portrait Gallery’s Kogod Courtyard or walk through the zoo on the way home, take some comfort in the fact that you can Turner your living room into your own private gallery.
Some of our favorite virtual D.C. museum visits right now:
The Smithsonian Institution
At least a dozen of the 20 museums and centers under the Smithsonian Institution umbrella have made exhibits virtually accessible (Smithsonian mag has a good overview), but we especially love the ocean hall at the National Museum of Natural History; the Portrait Gallery’s “Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today”; and of course, the Zoo’s 24/7 animal cams do wonders for insomnia.
National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art partnered with the Musées d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie, Paris to bring the “Degas at the Opéra” exhibition to life, but it was only on view for two weeks before the museum closed. The 3D option (including audio tour and zoom features) is a pretty solid consolation.
National Museum of Women in the Arts
The National Museum of Women in the Arts has created an entire at-home collection, complete with virtual art talks, podcasts, an online scavenger hunt and 10 online exhibitions, including two new ones, “Women Artists of the Dutch Golden Age” and “Wanderer/Wonderer: Pop-Ups by Colette Fu.”
IA&A at Hillyer
Virtual graduations were likely anticlimactic for the thousands of students who expected to toss caps in the air this month. IA&A at Hillyer has partnered with the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) Animation Department to honor 2020 grads by featuring their year-long thesis projects online.
National Geographic Museum
Back in November we gave a sneak-peek of the National Geographic Museum’s “Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Dr. Jane Goodall” exhibition. Because Dr. Goodall’s messages of hope, conservation, and commitment to creating a better world resonate now, as ever, the museum chose this one for its first-ever virtual exhibition.
Bonus! If you somehow get tired of what D.C. has to offer, check out Google Arts and Culture, which had partnered with more than 2,500 museums and galleries around the world to offer virtual tours, even before coronavirus quarantine!
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