Pandemic provides opportunities to digitally visit famed museums


photo by Gabi Simon

One of the many exhibits available from the British Museum.

Gabi Simon, Reporter

Taking a trip to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City seems crazy during a pandemic. But what if you could view museums from your couch? Museums all over the world have turned to free online platforms to showcase some of their best exhibits without putting potential visitors at risk.

Many of the museums feature a variety of options to explore their content online, such as virtual walking tours, pictures of individual pieces and podcasts. Others rely heavily on Google Maps’ Art and Culture site, which features exhibit tours and pictures. 

MOMA uses Google Maps for both pictures and tours and displays the tool’s faults. First, the tours can be too blurry to see details well. Second, only a few of its pictures have descriptions about their origins beyond their name, date and material. The images on MOMA’s personal website, on the other hand, are very clear. 

Unlike the MOMA, the famed British Museum has many different viewing options, only one of which is connected to Google Maps. Several are genuinely interesting, like a detailed examination of the Japanese Great Wave, while many simply aren’t. For example, the hour-long podcast on ice cream and olive oil was overkill, as was a rather dry blog post on dust. 

In addition, the blurriness of its Google Maps tour made one of the greatest collections of historical artifacts in the world seem like an antique shop full of broken and uninteresting objects. Also, the tour was limited to a few rooms on the first floor. On the website, though, there is a search tool for the collection, whose non-blurriness compensates for the disappointing tour.

The most stimulating British Museum option that I found is called Museum of the World, which can oddly only be found on Google, not the British Museum website. Starting with a big bang of color and sound, it quickly zooms in on a 3D timeline that stretches off into the distant past of 2,000,000 B.C.E. The timeline’s color-coded dots reveal artifacts at the click of a mouse.

A more creative online museum website, Ingenium, is full of fun activities for all different ages. It’s a combination of three Canadian museums: the Canada Food and Agriculture Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and the Canada Science and Technology Museum. 

Instead of only displaying artifacts, Ingenium has multiple sections, such as at-home experiments, scientific explanations for a variety of topics, detailed exhibits and much more. The website doesn’t offer tours of the museum; however, they aren’t needed because of the abundance of other options.

While all of these online museums are worth exploring, I believe that Ingenium is the best out of the three. Both the British Museum and MOMA have excellent collections, but Ingenium has a wide variety of expertly presented activities and exhibits for everyone.