Virtual Art Galleries Are Here To Stay

Natalie Abernethy
October 2, 2020

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many museums and art galleries have been closed to the public for months.

Now, without guests able to visit spaces physically, curators have had to get more inventive with their exhibits. Here are a few ways to get your art fix without leaving your home!

While looking for the best museum virtual tours, I stumbled upon Google’s Arts and Culture site. It has everything—photos, videos, augmented reality objects, and more. Why had I never heard of this?! 

They even have an entire section dedicated to 360 videos. As someone who’s interested in VR and immersive experiences, this is right up my alley. The site covers an expansive list of topics from natural history, to fashion shows, to exploring a space shuttle. 

With their 360 videos you could walk through Queen Victoria’s home…

And even discuss the future of fashion with Naomi Campbell and other icons (that 3D set is incredible!). 

TIP: to view the full 360 view, you can click and drag around the video window on desktop, or on mobile you can physically move your phone around the room you’re in to explore. 

For the best experience, you can purchase a variety of VR viewers called Google Cardboard. For $9 you can have your own VR headset, or you can buy their lenses and build your own. Next quarantine craft project, perhaps?

Aside from the amazing 360 videos available, Google also offers an impressive selection of “street view” videos of famous sites.

A detailed, interactive walkthrough of Versailles, with no tourists in sight? Yes, please!

Screenshot via Google

For the institutions with less recognition, curators and gallerists have had to get creative with their own shows. Platforms offering a customizable “3D virtual gallery” have started popping up, where any curator can insert their artwork into a digital space.

This show, “Made in California 2020,” functions much like Google’s street view videos. The ‘paintings’ are uploaded directly onto their virtual canvas. They’re highly detailed, and one can click on the piece for more information and price. No, it’s not the same as wandering around a gallery on First Friday with that glass of cheap wine they give you, but it’s something. The navigation takes a minute to get used to, but it’s also refreshing to be able to access more art than ever, for free! With just a few clicks you could be viewing a totally different exhibit from work on the other side of the world.

I think virtual galleries, virtual tours, and general web-based gallery presences will continue to expand even beyond the pandemic. Virtual art is accessible for all—there are no expensive entry costs or miles upon miles to travel in order to visit the exhibit. 

Yes, the real thing is great, but this is an amazing option too!