World-famous cultural institutions closed due to coronavirus are welcoming virtual visitors

Image: Sebastian Pichler
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Museums, galleries, music venues and opera houses across the world are shutting their doors temporarily to help slow the spread of coronavirus – but we can still experience the arts from the comfort of our living rooms.

Some of the world’s best-known cultural institutions have been working to lift the spirits of arts fans under quarantine and lockdown by streaming concerts and offering virtual museum tours and online galleries.

Opera companies and orchestras from Berlin and New York to Seoul have been live-streaming concerts. Though played to rows of empty seats, these performances are reaching online audiences worldwide.

Some are also offering free access to digital catalogues of past performances.

The Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall is now free for everyone, according to a message on the orchestra’s website which says, “The Philharmonie is closed – so we will come to you!”

Soon after cancelling its upcoming concerts due to the pandemic, New York’s Met Opera announced it would stream free encores of past performances from its Live in HD series on its website. The Nightly Met Opera Streams kicked off on 16 March with a 2010 performance of Bizet’s Carmen.

Widespread bans on international travel and large gatherings have also halted tours and music festivals – California’s famous Coachella is postponed until October and American singer Billie Eilish has put off her Where Do We Go Tour.

As a result, some artists have been giving free online concerts. Pop singer James Blunt went ahead with his concert in Hamburg, Germany, live-streaming his performance in an empty venue to fans around the world.

Pianist Igor Levit used Twitter to give a performance from his Berlin apartment.

Virtual museums

With many museums announcing temporary closures, the digital world offers a way to explore culture from home.

Louvre Museum, Paris

Google’s Arts & Culture platform has partnered with 1,200 leading museums and archives to show their exhibits online and offer virtual tours.

Among the big names included on the platform are New York’s MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim the Musee D’Orsay in Paris the Tate Modern and the British Museum in London and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Uffizi Galleries, Florence

Some museums also have their own virtual tours, including the Louvre in Paris, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Vatican Museum in Rome, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

Others also share images and information about their collections under the Instagram hashtag #MuseumFromHome.