Virtual Museums: Culture Through the Computer

Alexei Greene

Museums allow us to admire and learn about cultural and historical importance. Unfortunately, a worldwide pandemic has struck, leaving many museums closed. But there is hope for museum-goers with some museums developing virtual exhibits. People now have the option to view the objects on display from the comfort of their own home. This can be accomplished in several different ways. Some museums have taken a more traditional approach, for example, Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum and the Museo del Prado feature simple galleries of their artwork for people to peruse online.  The Smithsonian and the Musée du Louvre have a virtual tour similar to a Google street view, in that the camera can move all through the halls of the museum, allowing virtual visitors to freely explore. Similarly, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has uploaded a series of videos in which the viewer can look around at their surroundings in 360-degree videos. 

There is plenty to see in these electronic exhibitions and viewers can still find the beauty in a piece of art through a screen. While viewing museum exhibits through a screen is less than ideal, it is still a rewarding experience, and better than nothing. With the advancement of technology, the items displayed in museums and information about each exhibit have become much more accessible. But museums still maintain relevance. In 2019, the Louvre received nearly 10 million visitors, and the reason for this is simple: to see a work of art in a photo is one thing, but to be in its presence is entirely another. 

One can truly soak up every last detail of a painting when looking at the real piece in person. It is therefore safe to say that museums are here to stay and will maintain their presence in our culture. Although the pandemic has many museums closed, virtual exhibitions give you a taste of the real thing and allow you to learn and engage with the art in new ways from the comfort of your own home!