Museums are closed, but, more and more, exhibits are available online. Now we have a chance to visit from home the museums we have always wanted to go to, wherever they are in the world, and to catch up with what some local museums are offering. Here are some resources, including some from the Oakland Public Library, to help you access free online exhibits and collection highlights from museums near and far.
Some online resources for museums in the United States and around the world
Google Arts and Culture offers a wide-ranging collection of global museum exhibits, tours, and related activities. The focus is on art, but history and science offerings are also included. You can explore art by an artist’s name or by an art movement, and even by a color used in different art works!
MCN is an organization that aims to advance digital innovation in museums. Geared to museum professionals, it also offers the public a wonderful online resource: The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Museum Resources, E-Learning, and Online Collections. The many links include those to natural science and historical collections, as well as art sources, in the US and around the world. There’s also a section on e-learning, and one for children.
Joy of Museums explores museums, art galleries and historical sites worldwide. It’s possible to search for resources by country, by different type of museum, by artist and by art category. Although the main focus is on art, there are also listings of natural science museums, and niche museums. Resources are worldwide, but coverage of museums in the UK is particularly strong.
Visit individual museums and cultural sites
Many museums are now offering online exhibits, tours, talks, articles or films, most of which are free of charge. Recently, some have established museum from home programs. Check out a museum you’ve already been to, or one you’ve never visited before! Here are a few:
Frank Lloyd Wright sites: As social distancing and stay-at-home orders have swept the country, many Frank Lloyd Wright sites that are normally open to the public have had to close their doors, just when they were gearing up for the spring touring season to begin. Frank Lloyd Wright sites will offer virtual tours every Thursday at 10AM (PST).
National Museum of African American History and Culture -- Digital Resource Guide. Although nothing is going to match the intense experience of going to Washington, D.C. to visit the NMAAHC, we can, right now, look at the museum’s online exhibitions, collection stories and video archives; for example, Chez Baldwin, an exploration of James Baldwin’s life and works while he was living in St Paul de Vence, France.
A look at what some Bay Area museums are offering online
Asian Art Museum Museum From Home includes works from special exhibits and the permanent collection.
De Young Museum from Home program offers talks, articles, and highlights from exhibits. Some artists currently featured are Elizabeth Vigée Le Brun, Arnold Genthe (1906 San Francisco Earthquake photography), Chiura Obata, and Frida Kahlo.
Exploratorium. Many online learning opportunities here in science and art.
Some Oakland Public Library resources available with your library card
Visit a museum on film through Oakland Public Library’s subscription to Kanopy. For example, the Exhibition on Screen series features exhibits on major European artists and art movements previously shown in major museums. Artists include Vermeer, Rembrandt, Goya, and some Impressionist painters. 1000 Masterpieces from the Great Museums of the World highlights works from significant museum collections. To access these two series, enter the series title in the library catalog.
Check out an eBook through Enki:
If you need help with accessing Kanopy or Enki, you can send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a voice mail with your full name and details at (510) 238-3134.
By Stella Goodwin, Librarian, Main Library, and the Arts & Culture team.
Art images from 1000 Masterpieces from the Great Museums of the World: Edward Hopper (Art institute of Chicago); Amadeo de Souza (Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon); and Hasegawa Tohaku (Collections in Tokyo, Kyoto and Atami).