Online Museum Exhibits: Finding the Best Museum Visit Online

The illuminated Louvre Pyramid as seen in the evening.

Even before the pandemic, museums large and small were trying to figure out what kind of online museum exhibits they wanted to have. There’s nothing quite like visiting a museum or gallery in person, but that doesn’t mean that a museum visit online can’t be something special in its own right.

When the pandemic hit, many museums were forced to close entirely, and, once they reopened, they had to go entirely virtual. This has spurred a lot of rapid innovation in the world of online exhibits, and in the FrameStore Blog, we’re looking at some of our favorites.

  • Before You Go: We recommend using your computer, not your phone, to tour online museum exhibits. You’ll appreciate your computer’s larger screen resolution and heftier processing power.

Right Here in Los Angeles

FrameStore is a proud LA business, and we know many of you are Angelinos, too. But even if you’re not, Los Angeles is one of the best places in North America to view fine art, learn about history, and get in better touch with both humanity and our natural world. Here are some Los Angeles museums you can visit online:

  • Explore Art at the Getty Center: The Getty Center is one of the world’s great museums. It also has a massive online collection of its art, including several complete exhibitions, such as Return to Palmyra, which explores an ancient trading center that has been heavily degraded by war in modern-day Syria.
  • LACMA: The largest art museum in the western United States, LACMA boasts a collection of over 142,000 objects representing 6,000 years of art from cultures worldwide. Many of its collections can be viewed virtually, including everything from Gods and Goddesses to Islamic Art Now to So Cal Design.
  • Virtual MOCA: When the pandemic struck, the Museum of Contemporary Art upped its game by expanding its Virtual MOCA initiative into a daily taste of bite-sized online museum exhibits. With lots of videos and social media content, and a particular focus on family learning, bring the kids along too! 
  • Autry Museum of the American West: The Autry Museum offers world-class galleries featuring not only the art but also the history and cultures of the American West. They also boast one of the largest collections of Native American materials in the United States.
  • Cayton Children’s Museum: With a mission to provide arts education and discovery-based learning, the Cayton Children’s Museum includes 21,000 square feet of immersive exhibits to engage children ages 0-10. To continue offering their services during the pandemic, the Cayton began offering virtual field trips and used YouTube to feature art-making, storytime, puppet shows, and more.

Museums Around the World

Let’s go beyond Los Angeles and look at some incredible exhibits from around the country and the world:

  • The Louvre: Perhaps the world’s most famous museum, the Louvre now offers an amazing museum visit online with virtual tours of multiple collections and exhibits, featuring some of the museum’s most popular artworks.
  • The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History: The Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History has some wonderful online museum exhibits, with a user-friendly design that means you can enjoy yourself even if you’re not tech-savvy at all. Natural history museums are a great complement to fine art museums because they teach us about the physical world in which art was made.
  • The Museum of the World: This project by the British Museum attempts to visualize the connections between human art across the world and different periods. This online museum exhibit is very processor-intensive on computers, so we recommend you view it on a computer with ample processor power and a good graphics card.
  • NASA’s Langley Research Center Virtual Tour: Langley is a working research facility, not just a museum. If you love space exploration and want to see where some of NASA’s magic happens, this virtual tour is for you! Explore wind tunnels, robot factories, flight simulators, and more.

Museums Are Beginning to Reopen!

Online museum exhibits have helped keep us sane over the past year. And now, after being closed to in-person visits for more than a year due to the pandemic, many museums are finally starting to open back up!

So keep on wearing your mask, washing your hands, and social distancing, because there is light at the end of the tunnel! And, if you’re feeling well, why not make an appointment at your local museum soon?

  • Build Your Own Museum at Home: Did you know that FrameStore works with museums and galleries around the country to supply archival-quality custom picture frames? It’s true! We can frame just about anything, from paintings to sports memorabilia. Let our craftspeople build a custom frame for your cherished possessions. Drop by one of our LA locations to learn more!

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