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World Museum Day is coming up on 18th May 2020, and to mark the occasion Hills Balfour is highlighting a selection of virtual tours which allow audiences to explore internally acclaimed institutions whilst staying safe at home.

From New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2020, to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, home to the world’s oldest biblical manuscripts, here are some of the best virtual museum and gallery experiences to enjoy this spring.

Explore The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, USA

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is NYC’s crowning jewel with one of the most celebrated collections across the world. In the 150 years since The Met was founded, its collection has expanded to include over two million works of fine art. However, one doesn’t have to be in the city to enjoy them. This year, people across the globe can celebrate the Met’s 150th anniversary from their homes by viewing the iconic spaces from a completely new perspective. Over 11 million people have toured the museum without leaving their house with the Met 360° Project, an award-winning series of videos offering virtual visitors the chance to engage with the iconic art and architecture in a fresh and immersive way. Created using spherical 360° technology, the project allows viewers to experience the magic of standing in an empty gallery after-hours, witnessing a bustling space in time-lapse, or float high above The Met Cloisters with a bird’s-eye view. Additionally, the museum has launched 26 virtual exhibitions and made 200,000 documented works digitally available, allowing viewers to discover art from nearly any era, including Pieter Bruegel The Elder’s The Harvesters and Chanel’s iconic suit, at the touch of a button.

Tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West home in Scottsdale, USA

Frank Lloyd Wright’s spectacular winter home, Taliesin West, nestled in Scottsdale can now be toured online. A detailed state-of-the-art 3D scan of Taliesin West has been made available for people to discover and explore this UNESCO heritage site. The virtual tour allows visitors to discover each room of Taliesin West and closely examine light fixtures and furniture, most of which was designed by the architect himself. It also allows visitors to get up close to the desert rocks and other natural materials used in the building’s construction, as well as exploring the surrounding Sonoran Desert where Wright decided to build this eccentric edifice.

Marvel at Vienna’s magnificence museum collections, Austria

One doesn’t have to leave home to experience the magnificence of Vienna’s museums. Audiences can join a virtual voyage through the collections and rooms of world-famous Viennese institutions like the Albertina, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna and many other extraordinary places. Virtual tours include the oeuvre of Gustav Klimt or the vaults of the Capuchin Crypt (Imperial Crypt), where the Habsburgs lie buried. One can click through the top 100 objects of the Naturhistorisches Museum Vienna, be impressed by the paintings of Egon Schiele in the Leopold Museum, and dive into the centuries-old collections of the Albertina.

Discover the world’s largest collection of Henri Matisse in Baltimore, USA

The Baltimore Museum of Art’s collection encompasses 90,000 works of art, including over 1,000 works by Henri Matisse, the largest holding of his work anywhere in the world, as well as masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, and Vincent van Gogh. Visitors at home can browse or search images of over 20,000 works from every area of the collection, with new works added constantly. The museum also publishes an online magazine of artist interviews, behind the scenes with curators and deep dives into exhibition meanings. Baltimore’s other museums, including Walters Art Museum,  Reginald F. Lewis MuseumBaltimore Museum of Industry and Maryland Historical Society, also have online collections visitors can browse at their own pace. Visitors can choose a topic that they’re most interested in and they may even stumble across items that are not on view at the museum!

Experience the world’s only museum dedicated to global human rights, located  in Manitoba, Canada

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba has just launched virtual content for travellers across the globe. The museum’s key message is that everyone should make human rights a priority right now and the website has stories, ideas and tools to help inspire viewers. Over the coming weeks, there will be new instalments, featuring more galleries and architecture, in addition to the two galleries currently available – Indigenous Perspectives and Canadian Journeys. Viewers can also take a virtual audio tour via the mobile app – which has narration, images and video and is available in English, French, sign language and with described audio.

Check out the history behind America’s first resort destination in The Palm Beaches, Florida, USA

Recognised as a playground for the rich and famous, and best known for its sophisticated elegance and genuine hospitality, The Palm Beaches, Florida, was once a tropical escape for elite travellers in the late 1800’s, known as America’s First Resort Destination®. A key national historic landmark that remains today is the Flagler Museum, open to travellers across the globe. The museum features tours, exhibits and special programmes, giving visitors a sense of Flagler’s extensive accomplishments as Florida’s most important developer.

Explore Lake Mead Virtual Museum in Nevada, USA

With striking landscapes and brilliant blue waters, Lake Mead is a year-round playground spreading across 1.5 million acres of mountains, canyons, valleys and two vast lakes.  There’s no doubt that Lake Mead offers a striking backdrop, but what many don’t know is that the history of people who inhabited the area spans thousands of years.  Now, thanks to the Lake Mead Virtual Museum, history buffs don’t have to travel far to discover collections of historic photographs depicting pioneers, miners, ranchers, settlers, dam builders, park rangers and recreation enthusiasts who lived and worked in Southern Nevada.  Visitors to this virtual museum will also see high-quality photographs of glass objects, pottery and other artifacts that have been discovered in the park, along with collections of flora and fauna that reveal the beauty of the natural history of the area.

Get up close to the iconic artworks from Puerto Rico with Google Arts & Culture 

With more than 500 years of cultural heritage, Puerto Rico pulses with artistic expression and inspiration. Now, visitors can experience the depth and scope of the island’s diverse art and culture from their own homes. Lin-Manuel Miranda and Google Arts & Culture recently joined forces to digitise hundreds of Puerto Rican artworks for the first time ever, with an aim to preserve more than 4,000 works over the coming months. The hyper-detailed renditions were captured by Google Cultural Institute’s robotic Art Camera, a high-tech contraception which enables viewers to explore works down to the details of a brushstroke. The initiative includes works from the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña (ICP), Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico, Museo de Arte de Ponce and Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. Highlights of the project include Governor Ramón de Castro (1797), one of the best-known works by José Campeche y Jordán, a self-taught artist and one of the greatest 19th century Latin American Painters, and The Judge (1970), a vibrant collagraph print by Myrna Báez, one of Puerto Rico’s most important painters and printmakers.

Admire the oldest biblical manuscripts in the world in Jerusalem, Israel

The Israel Museum in Jerusalem is ranked among the world’s leading art and archaeology museums. The museum houses works dating from prehistory to the present day, including extensive holdings of biblical and Holy Land archaeology such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest biblical manuscripts in the world. Now, travellers are invited into the museum online, to enjoy a virtual Israel Museum tour via Google Art, as well as creative art tours for children. All virtual tours in Jerusalem will soon be added to a new interactive platform called ‘Jerusalem Travels 2 U’.

Experience The Mob Museum in Las Vegas, USA

Keen travellers may not be able to enjoy the full glitz and glamour of Las Vegas right now, but a visit to the Mob Museum, one of the destination’s most popular tourist attractions, can be experienced from the comfort of one’s home. The Mob Museum, officially the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, offers online users the chance to journey through the gritty world of Prohibition-era America with a dedicated microsite that even boasts a 20s-style game. Players use their keyboard to dodge suspicious cops, run other bootleggers off the road and throw their alcohol stash at interceptors. Paired with its mellow, blues-infused jazz soundtrack, the game is the best way to enjoy a piece of quintessentially American history away from the museum’s Las Vegas home.

Meet creatures from aquatic habitats at Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, Illinois, USA

The Shedd Aquarium is an indoor public aquarium in Chicago, Illinois where visitors can meet 32,500 creatures from aquatic habitats around the world. Animal-lovers can take a virtual tour of the aquarium and check in on some of the wildlife that reside there, from pacific octopus to feisty penguins and beluga whales. While the public is unable to visit in person, the aquarium has let some of the penguins out of their exhibits to explore the aquarium and visit other animals. People watching from home are able to see footage of the penguins’ adventures on the Shedd Aquarium Twitter page. The Shedd Aquarium also keeps self-isolators informed with all the goings on of other animals on their Facebook page which is updated with videos on a regular basis.

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