So quarantine has got you stuck indoors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit London’s museums anyway. During this time, some of London’s greatest repositories of history and art have used their talents to create online portals so that visitors can still enjoy them from the comfort of home. Even when traveling to London becomes an option but you can’t make it, you can indulge in one of these five museums from your computer. Bask in the wonder, the art, and the history of the United Kingdom and let us know what other virtual tours are available in the comments.
Opened in 1980, the London Transport Museum is dedicated to how people have moved around the city from ancient times to the present. Its collection is filled with vehicles of all kinds from double-decker horse buses to the famous Routemaster. The museum doesn’t have an official virtual tour on its website, but you can actually see everything inside thanks to Google Streetview. You can get up close and personal with the exhibits by clicking around on a floor or zoom in on the thumbnail and move the person icon to change rooms.
The National Gallery is the repository for hundreds of famous paintings and sculptures and has been since 1824. Much like the London Transport Museum, one way to experience the gallery right now is through Google Streetview. The National Gallery has had this feature since 2016, but in 2011 included a virtual tour that features 18 different rooms, though it uses Adobe flash so your browser may not let you. However, you can opt instead for the virtual tour of the Sainsbury wing. This tour was done with the Oculus in mind so you can really get the full experience, though it’s not necessary. The Sainsbury Wing virtual tour also lets you read the information cards on each painting by hovering over them.
The meeting place for the British Government since the 13th Century, the original Palace of Westminster burned to the ground in 1834 and the current Neo-gothic building was completed in 1876. For those wanting to visit, Parliament offers the Parliament 360° virtual tour, that acts similar to Google Streetview while also providing infographics on the various paintings, sculptures, and other important parts of the building. You can wander the central lobby, both chambers, and even the corridors. You can get into parts of the building that aren’t on the official tour and feel like one of the leaders of the United Kingdom.
From the classics of the past to the great works of the present, the Tate Modern also offers a couple different virtual experiences. Perhaps the best is the Virtual 360° experience that’s hosted by Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw and Museum Director Frances Morris. The pair will walk you throw the Blavatnik Building as Morris describes the different pieces and the use of the 360-degree camera will let you look around as your listen to the narration. A more static experience comes in the form of a video tour of the Tate Modern’s Andy Warhol exhibit, combining views of Warhol’s works with narration about them and his life.
The best virtual museum tour you can take in London is The British Museum. From the front page of the website, the British Museum offers eleven different ways to interact with its collection such as Google Streetview, the museum’s podcast, YouTube Videos, and more. One of the most amazing virtual experiences is the Museum of the World, which guides you on a tour through time of various artefacts stretching back thousands of years covering the entire globe. This part of the website is represented as a colorful and musical map, with each item providing a different tone so you can either click to learn more about them or just enjoy figuring out what kind of melody you can create from history.