Cultural Tourism at Home


Cultural Tourism at Home – The World’s Art Online

Cultural Tourism at Home

I regularly write a new article for members of our four wonderful art groups on Facebook. The Artists Exchange, The Artist Hangout, The Artists Directory, and The Artists Lounge. This week, we look at couch-based cultural tourism, in short, the best places to get your fix of art and culture online and from your sofa!

Missing the galleries...



It’s a strange feeling to stay indoors when the weather outside is just beginning to warm up, there’s a tranquillity in the air as I look out of the window but there is also the scent of something dangerous. It sounds like the introduction to a film rather than reality and never did I ever think that on a Saturday morning I would be staring out of the window hoping to see the streets once again filled with people going about their thing and taking dogs for walks.

They say that it takes just twenty-one days to fall into a new habit and to get used to doing things differently and I’m really not sure I would ever get used to not having the option to go out and visit a gallery or take in a museum. When this thing is over though, I do wonder how many will venture with the same sort of confidence that they had before.

How long will it take for museums and galleries to see the same footfall as before? Maybe people will turn to art even more, when this is over, but as I have said many times on this website, people are consuming art in vastly different ways than they once did and I think that will stick even more when the world eventually reopens for business.

What has kind of surprised me is just how quickly many businesses have reacted to the situation and adapted to using technology. There was a slow take up of tech in the art world for years with the big institutions and galleries preferring to get you through their physical doors and suddenly, virtually visiting these spaces is the only thing we can do.

Before the current pandemic, the global heritage and tourism industry was growing at a rapid pace and provided more than 50-million jobs in APEC countries and a further 75-million jobs were said to have been created to support the industry. For many regions, the cultural and heritage sector strongly influenced local economies with cultural tourism bringing in tourist dollars to local economies all over the world.

How fast the sector will recover depends on many things, the economy, how willing people will be to step back out into the world and walk together in the same spaces, and of course, the great unknown in all of this, just how long this pandemic will take to eradicate or at least, better control. People will still need art and culture, the unknown is, how will they get their fix next?

In the interim, that technology that has suddenly been adopted will be playing a huge role in giving people, an appetite to go back out there. Never has it felt more important to keep communities engaged and it will be more important than ever to bring heritage and culture back once the world steps back outside.

So this week, let’s take a look at the organisations, galleries, and museums who are keeping us fed with art and culture from the comfort of our homes. Throughout this week's article, I will be placing some of the colouring pages I have made freely available on my Facebook Business page which you can find and like, right here!


Above video - Timelapse of one of the many colouring sheets I have been creating to keep people entertained on my Facebook page!
colouring sheets, coloring sheets, Mark Taylor, Beechhouse Media
I will be figuring out how to add downloads soon, but you can find these colouring sheets on my Facebook page!

The Royal Academy of Arts…

Britain’s Royal Academy of Arts which you can find right here, has a stunning collection of art, books, archive materials, exhibition catalogues, and frames and many are displayed on their website. This isn’t a new service from the RA, but it is definitely worth visiting if you want to take in highlights from one of Britains best collections.

Google Arts and Culture…

I have written about Google Arts and Culture many times and it is available for free on the web and via an app. It’s an easy way to spend more than a few hours, possibly even days or weeks. You can find it on the web right here, and you can download the app on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.

The Hermitage Museum…

I spent a couple of days in Russia a few years ago and specifically to visit The Hermitage Museum. For me, it ranks as number one in my top three museums ever but the downside is that visiting it in person can be a challenge if you don’t like crowds. I was lucky enough to have a private highlights tour from a knowledgeable guide and if you ever do plan on visiting Saint Petersburg in person, this is definitely the way to do it and it’s not overly expensive. It is also the only way that you will be able to navigate to the museums best highlights but you may want to go back a few more times to take in everything in between. The museum itself is huge and there is still only a small part of its entire collection on display.

The good news is that you are able to view many of the highlights online albeit without the crowds and without the amazing works on display in between many of the highlights, but this will still, give you an idea of just how vast the collection and museum is. You can find the online tour right here

Metropolitan Museum of Art…

5,000 years of art, at home. The Metropolitan Museum of Art resides in New York City at The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters and millions of people also access the Met online. Founded on April 13, 1870, "to be located in The city of New York, for the purpose of establishing and maintaining in said city a museum and library of art, of encouraging and developing the study of the fine arts, and the application of arts to manufacture and practical life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and, to that end, of furnishing popular instruction." 

This statement of purpose has guided the museum for more than 140-years, updating the statement in 2015 to read: The Metropolitan Museum of Art collects, studies, conserves, and presents significant works of art across all times and cultures in order to connect people to creativity, knowledge, and ideas.

You can find 5,000 years of art right here, and do take a look at The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History right here, which pairs essays and works of art with chronologies, telling the story of art and global culture through the Museum’s collection.

If five decades of Met Publications are your thing, you can download them as PDFs right here

Tate London, online art galleries,
Tate London - Currently Closed but there's plenty online!

TATE…

I have been a fan of Tate for many years, not least because I regularly stay in hotels close to their London based gallery frequently. The galleries might be temporarily closed but the online collections are filled to the brim with activities and art, some of it specifically for kids through their Tate Kids initiative. There is an artist A-Z and an area where you can learn new skills from casting to weaving with a range of craft projects for both children and adults.
If you are a fan of British art, there is a walkthrough of Britain’s greatest artists in chronological order. You can view the Tate site right here

J. Paul Getty Museum…

While The Met has 5,000 years of art history covered, Getty has 6,000 years of art history. Getty is a cultural and philanthropic institution dedicated to the presentation, conservation, and interpretation of the world’s artistic legacy. Through the collective and individual work of its constituent programs—Getty Conservation Institute, Getty Foundation, J. Paul Getty Museum, and Getty Research Institute—Getty pursues its mission in Los Angeles and throughout the world, serving both the general interested public and a wide range of professional communities in order to promote a vital civil society through an understanding of the visual arts.

There are free materials for inspiration and learning, articles, videos, books and podcasts about art, and there are always online exhibitions. There are activities such as recreating Getty artworks with household items which you can find right here, and if you need to keep the younger generation amused, entertained and educated at the same time, there’s a neat article on five ideas to stay creative with a pencil and paper which you can find right here

You can find the Getty website and its online collections right here

The Vatican Museums…

Never in my entire life have I ever been so aghast at architecture than I was when I visited Vatican City. Over the years, I have been back a few times and a little like The Hermitage, the crowds are aplenty and it’s not always possible to do absolutely everything you will want to do or see everything you will want to see even if you spent a month there.

Everywhere you look in Vatican City there is art, soaring vaulted ceilings, intricate murals, tapestries, and statues from art history’s greatest artists and artisans and you don’t have to follow any particular religion to appreciate what is there.

The crowds really are the issue when you visit in person, I don’t think I have ever found a time to visit when there are very few people there at all, so if you want a sense of seeing all that Vatican City has to offer without the people, you have two choices. For those who don’t mind paying a not insignificant sum of money, private tours are now available apparently, but the more cost-effective way for those of us yet to win the lottery is to take a peruse through the archive of 360-degree video tours which you can find right here

You can find the website for Vatican City right here, and explore the collections right here

Rome, Art, Vatican City, Museums,
Vatican City - Art is everywhere, the country is like a living museum!

The Natural History Museum – London…

The Natural History Museum is striking as much for its oddities as its art history, this is a place where you can find the Dodo and a diplodocus and specimens in jars. You can explore nature at home with a range of apps and activities and delve right into their research and collections, there’s plenty to keep you both educated and entertained right here

The National Gallery – London

The National Gallery is another of my usual London based staples in normal times, the gallery itself is the epitome of European art and the website is a treasure trove of information if you dig around a little beyond the homepage. For teachers, there are resources which can be downloaded and there are continuous professional development resources for teachers too.

Virtual tours and highlights are available but I really find the behind the scenes snippets on restoration and lost art fascinating ways to spend a couple of hours. It is one of those sites that opens the door to a rabbit hole where five or six hours later you emerge having been pretty much all over the internet looking at additional materials to find out more. You can find the National Gallery right here

MoMA…

With over 200,000 works in the MoMA collection, some 86,000 plus works are available to view online through their Museum From Home initiative. Find a work that catches your eye and click on it and you will be presented with the details as if you were reading those white labels on the gallery wall. There are plenty of online exhibitions to take a peruse through at the moment so if nothing else, the current crisis has opened up MoMA a little more, and there are plenty of other things to do too, the magazine section has some passionate perspectives on art, artists, and ideas that shape culture today.
You can find MoMA right here.  

Photogrammar…

Photogrammar is a web-based platform for organising, searching and visualising the 170,000 photographs from the Great Depression and looking through some of those we can see perhaps a little more clearly than ever that we are not the first people in modern history to have gone through a world and life-changing period of time. It seems just a little more relevant today than it ever has or at least in our lifetimes.

If you live in the USA, there is an interactive map where you will doubtless find photographs of the time from your local area, and for those looking for the hard data, there are programmer labs that present data experiments and tools for interpreting the FSA-OWI collection.

You can find Photogrammar from Yale University right here

colouring sheets, Mark Taylor, Beechhouse Media,
Another colouring sheet available on my Facebook page!

The New York Public Library…

The digital collection of The New York Public library now contains more than 180,000 items, and those items are fully downloadable with no permission required and no hoops to jump through to obtain them.

The items are eclectic, you will find restaurant menus for example right here, more than 17,000 of them in fact, and you can reminisce about the days of Broadway and theatre more generally with a huge collection of theatrical flyers and posters right here

All of the images are now out of copyright, so there might be some useful reference resources out there too, but you might first want to head over to the homepage which you can find right here

Encyclopaedia of Cleveland History…

Missing a cultural fix in your favourite history museum? The Encyclopaedia of Cleveland History has you covered and you don’t have to live in Cleveland to find some fascinating insights into the culture of the human race. Never visited Cleveland this will certainly whet your appetite to visit in the future.

There is a great collection of images and multimedia to be found as well as thousands of articles covering Cleveland’s history. You can find the site here

The British Library…

Another one of my staples whenever I find myself waiting for a train at one of the two major rail stations very close to the British Library. Sitting in between London’s Euston and St. Pancras and Kings Cross railways stations, The British Library is easy to spot, yet I know many people who have for many years walked right past it. It is Britain’s national library holding more than 13-million books, 920, 000 journal and newspaper titles and some 57-million patents along with more than 3-million sound recordings.

The British Library actively encourage you to view and reuse what they have made available under a Creative Commons licence and there is plenty of artwork adorning the pages of Flickr which have been uploaded by the library and you can find them right here.  

The Smithsonian…

No list would be anywhere near complete without a reference to The Smithsonian, perhaps the best place in the world to find a history of Asian and American artworks, some 40,000 of them in fact.

Washington DC is steeped in history but beyond the politics, apparently, two American Presidents have kept Alligators at the Whitehouse, you will most likely find that Washington DC is a veritable treasure trove of art and culture and fine wine. It’s the perfect getaway but you will need to settle on a virtual visit just now.

The Smithsonian for me as a Brit who probably feels more American than Bigfoot can be confusing to navigate such is its vastness. It is a network of museums as opposed to one, but it does have the most amazing work in its collection of art. The Freer and Sackler Galleries are a must if Asian art is your thing.

So where do you start? My advice for the online experience is to head over to their homepage before you do anything else. You can find it right here. Once there, if you don’t get too distracted by the Ruby Slippers adorning one of the features on the homepage, I would head over to the digital resources section and take a look at whatever jumps out at you, something will. You can find vast collections and the researching surrounding them in a kaleidoscope of topics from art to zoology. You can find the digital resources right here

colouring sheets, Mark Taylor, Beechhouse Media,
More colouring sheets - I will be writing a tutorial article soon!

The Louvre – Paris

Famous for the Mona Lisa and well, lots and lots of people. Usually, it is but currently, like everywhere else, you will need to visit online at the moment. If you are missing Lisa though, there is a Virtual reality experience called Mona Lisa – Beyond the glass which is worth checking out, you can find it right here

While you can check out the museums and galleries that make up the Louvre right here, if you know what you would like to see you might want to immediately jump into highlights of their collections by searching right here

If you are looking for something to educate rather than entertain, then heading over to the learning about art section will keep you bathed in art history knowledge for a good couple of hours or more. You can find those resources right here

Colouring sheets, Mark Taylor, Beechhouse Media
This one hasn't been published on Facebook as yet!


Rijksmuseum…

Not one for doing anything by half measures, the Rijksmuseum has some 676,678 works of art and 526,171 Rijksstudios for your perusal, all online and you can begin a tour for a few days right here

I have written about Rijksmuseum a number of times before on these hallowed pages, I have been forever intrigued by the fact that you can curate your own version of the museum from their website for a long time.

As a national institute, the Rijksmuseum offers a representative overview of Dutch art and history from the Middle Ages onwards, and of major aspects of European and Asian art. It also keeps, manages, conserves, restores, researches prepares, collects, publishes, and presents artistic and historical objects, both on its own premises and elsewhere.

Just be warned, if you are a fan of Dutch art and history from the middle-ages, going down this particular rabbit hole could keep you glued to your screen for weeks and itching to jump on the first available flight when the world reopens.

The New Walsall Art Gallery…

I really had to include this one not only because it is about a 20-minute drive from where I live, and not just because I was born in Walsall, England, but because it really is a hidden gem in the art world and a frequent stop for me whenever I visit my hometown.
The New Art Gallery Walsall presents and collects and interprets historic, modern and contemporary art in innovative and challenging ways, welcoming visitors from all over the globe as well as the immediate locality.

They have a dynamic exhibition program and the exhibitions frequently change too, originally the Galleries were specifically designed to house The Garman Ryan Collection, gifted to the people of Walsall by Lady Kathleen Garman, widow of Sir Jacob Epstein, and her friend, Sally Ryan.

Today it has a permanent collection of more than 3,500 works including many works from the numerous residencies the gallery runs. Right now you are able to visit the website and take a 360-degree virtual tour. You can find my local art gallery right here

Millions of artworks…

There must be millions upon millions of artworks that have been made available to view online, even throughout the handful I have listed above. Some of the works that are now out of copyright can be curated into your own personal collections and at the moment some of the larger institutions are running virtual events from time to time so it is worth looking out for these.

Couch-Based-Cultural-Tourism might have to be the way we get our gallery fix for now, but  I’m sure that it won’t be too long before we’re back to straining our necks and clambering through the crowds to smell the history of the art world once again.

Until next time, stay safe, stay well, and keep on creating. You got this!

Mark xx

About Mark…
I am an artist and blogger and live in Staffordshire, England. You can purchase my art through my Fine Art America store or my Pixels site here: https://10-mark-taylor.pixels.com   
 Any art sold through Fine Art America and Pixels contributes to the ongoing costs of running and developing this website and making sure that I can bring you independent writing every time and without any need to sign up to anything! You can also view my portfolio website at https://beechhousemedia.com

You can also follow me on Facebook at https://facebook.com/beechhousemedia where you will also, find regular free reference photos of interesting subjects and places I visit. You can also follow me on Twitter @beechhouseart and on Pinterest at https://pinterest.com/beechhousemedia

If you would like to support the upkeep of this site or maybe just buy me a coffee, you can do so at my new Go Fund Me link right here

Any donations received will be used to ensure I can continue writing independently for independent artists as my art sales via Pixels and Fine Art America and donations via Go Fund Me are the only way I monetise these pages so I don’t have to fill them with irrelevant ads or ask you to sign up via a paywall!

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