Museums offer free virtual tours

Bella Lee, Staff writer

When the United States declared a national emergency for the coronavirus pandemic back in March, many establishments shut down. From restaurants to national parks, public places across the country were closed in order to combat the virus.

Concerts, sporting events and awards shows were postponed as the amount of people getting sick went from the hundreds to the thousands to the millions.

Among these closed public establishments were museums. As the time that people had to remain at home turned from days to weeks to months, people everywhere wondered when we would ever be able to return to these beloved gathering places.

Luckily, museums solved the problem for those sick of being homebound: they started offering virtual tours.

Whether they are history museums or art museums, these institutions are using the upset of being stuck at home to their advantage by offering these virtual tours to homebodies.

The J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, or the Getty, is using Google Arts and Culture as well as Xplorit to give visitors a glance at the over 6,000 pieces of art they own, including the ability to click on an art piece in order to obtain more information about it.

London’s Natural History Museum offers an interactive online guide for museum goers to visit their vast collections of fossils, plants, insects and more.

South Korea’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art allows visitors to explore the main gallery and the three branches.

The Smithsonian’s vast number of museums are offering virtual tours as well as educational tools for young and older visitors alike.

These are just the major museums around the world that are offering these services, but smaller and more local museums are also utilizing these tools to let visitors explore their exhibits without ever leaving their home.

The Mercyhurst Institute for Arts and Culture, or MIAC, is also taking these uncertain circumstances to its advantage, offering virtual performances for this semester and introducing MIAC Live in the spring. Singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan did a virtual performance on Sept. 10, and will be followed by Beninese-American singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo on Oct. 11, actress Melissa Errico on Oct. 28 and a performance of “A Celtic Family Christmas” on Dec. 3. All of these performances will be held over Zoom, and all you need to do is go to MIAC’s website to register.

Beginning in the spring, MIAC hopes to bring back in-person performances with artists such as The Kingdom Choir, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Matthew Morrison. The circumstances that we are currently in certainly were unexpected. Many people across the country and the world are working, going to school and living out their entire lives without opening their front door. It is without a doubt that many of us are tired of always being home and just want things to go back the way they once were. But, until that day comes, museums are doing whatever they can to keep patrons happy during these uncertain times. Be sure to reach out to your local museum or a national museum to see if there are any virtual tours available for you to explore.