One of the best, most missed forms of amusement during this period of quarantine is visiting art museums.
Like many American museums in culture hotspots like New York City, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, European museums are also moving online to enlighten viewers on their amazing art collections. Google Arts and Culture has been especially leading virtual initiatives in the art world. Here are five European institutions helping bring artwork to your homes.
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, has some of the most spectacular masterpieces by Dutch old masters of the Golden Age like Rembrandt van Rijn and Johannes Vermeer. The Rijksstudio feature on its website curates some of its collection highlights by artist and medium.
You can also create your own Rijksstudio gallery to fit your own aesthetic preferences. Whether you love biblical scenes and formal portraits or expansive landscapes, there’s something for everyone on this digital platform. I would consider it a sort of Pinterest for Dutch art history.
While the world-famous Louvre Museum in Paris has shut its doors to the public until further notice, that doesn’t mean that we cannot marvel at its wonders from the glow of our laptop screens. One of my favorite features on the website is “A Closer Look,” which takes deep dive into the thoughts and creative energies behind individual art pieces through videos in French and English.
Learn more about generally well-known pieces like Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” or the Code of Hammurabi, or expand your art historical knowledge by taking a look at the celebrated sculpture “Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss” by Antonio Canova or “The Seated Scribe,” a treasure in its Egyptian Antiquities section.
Musée de l’Orangerie
The Musée de l’Orangerie is located right behind the Louvre in the Tuileries Gardens of Paris. One of the art gallery’s most wondrous sights is its oval room of Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies.” Monet was not only a leader of the late 19th-century Impressionist group but also an avid gardener at his home in the French town of Giverny. His consistent engagement with nature, light and color is reflected in this stunning series of works that’s definitely worth dedicating one’s close attention too.
Eight of Monet’s monumental panels were arranged, by his request, in two oval rooms that allowed viewers to wholly immerse themselves in the hypnotic brushwork dancing on his canvases. You can experience his art by zooming in on the virtual visit created by the Musée de l’Orangerie in collaboration with the Google Art Project. This virtual visit feature uses the same interactive software as Google Street View and allows one to get up close and personal with the water lilies.
The National Gallery
The National Gallery in London has put together a convenient and user-friendly “Highlights from the collection” that quickly spans through European art history in 30 must-see paintings for any burgeoning art buff. From Vincent van Gogh, Titian and Diego Velazquez, to Raphael, Jan van Eyck and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, these highlights are easy to breeze through.
On clicking a picture, you can zoom in on individual sections of the painting to really admire the labor and details of art history’s crème de la crème. You could either browse through paintings by reading through its key facts or going more in-depth with a longer description.
Tate Modern in London houses some of the most fascinating modern and contemporary art in the world. You can check out its free online displays easily, which break down its collection and most exciting exhibitions. Check out some Salvador Dalí's, René Magritte's and a Picasso in the “International Surrealism” exhibit, or follow the life of pop culture legend Andy Warhol through the lenses of immigration, his LGBTQ+ identity and themes of death and religion by reading through Tate’s extensive exhibition guide.
If you happen to be taking any courses with the Rutgers Department of Art History or are just curious and want to channel your newfound free time in learning about some art, Tate’s “Art Terms” is a comprehensive online glossary that can give you an overview on almost any art-related subject.