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Virtual Museum Tours, Performances, and Tutorials to Keep You (and Your Kids) Entertained at Home

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Google Arts and Culture provides digital tours of more than 2,500 museums and galleries around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

Photo by Tinnaporn Sathapornnanont/Shutterstock

Google Arts and Culture provides digital tours of more than 2,500 museums and galleries around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

Here’s how to stay entertained while you remain home in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

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As people in countries around the world are being asked to practice social distancing—to stay home and avoid crowded places—in order to help “flatten the curve” of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, an increasing number of museums, theaters, and tourist attractions across the United States have closed their doors (temporarily), and public gatherings with more than 50 people, such as concerts and festivals, are being canceled or postponed.

While the nation learns to adjust to the realities of self-quarantine, a number of cultural institutions and individual artists are bringing their shows to the streaming-sphere so you can feel like you’re venturing beyond home, even though now is truly the time to stay put. These virtual museum tours, live performances, and digital broadcasts—many of which are being offered for free—will help keep you (and any youngsters) entertained while we all do our part to ensure that these trying times are one day behind us.

Where to find virtual museum tours

MOMA, Rijksmuseum, and more

While major Paris museums such as the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay are closed until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak, you can still virtually explore parts of these art institutions, and many others, thanks to Google Arts and Culture. The online platform provides digital tours of more than 2,500 museums and galleries around the world, among them New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, both temporarily closed to help halt the spread of the virus. 

The platform’s featured collections for each museum vary, but most include digital exhibits (London’s National Gallery offers 10 separate Monet collections), as well as a “street view” that lets you explore inside the institutions, so you can see paintings such da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi at Florence’s Uffizi Gallery (currently shuttered), or Van Gogh’s The Starry Night at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which is also closed until further notice.

Some art institutions, such as the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and the San Diego Museum of Art also offer a few virtual tours of their own. 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

In addition to online exhibit tours, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan is giving free public access to more than 200 art books from its digital archives (until the museum reopens). Available titles focus on a range of renowned artists from late 19th-/early 20th-century abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky to contemporary conceptual artist Jenny Holzer. Other books in the collection examine more general artistic movements, from American pop icons to the history of Italian art.

American Museum of Natural History

Similarly, New York City’s American Museum of Natural History is making its previously recorded tours of the museum halls available on Facebook Live every day at 2 p.m. (EST) throughout its closure. The virtual tours, which are led by museum guides, take viewers through collections in the museum’s Hall of African Mammals, Hall of the North American Forests, Hall of Meteorites, and more. A collection of the museum’s educational materials (for children and adults) has also been made available to the public for free; you can find scientific articles and videos on topics including climate change and human health, as well as science classes, games, and quizzes for kids, on the museum’s website.

Live performances and concerts to watch

Nightly Met Opera Streams

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After canceling all performances through the end of March due to concerns around the coronavirus outbreak, New York City’s Metropolitan Opera announced that it would stream a performance from its archives for every night through the duration of the closure, starting Monday, March 16. The Nightly Met Opera Streams, which start at 7:30 p.m. (EST), pull from the renowned opera house’s award-winning Live in HD series, which includes encore presentations such as 19th-century French composer Georges Bizet’s Carmen. The recordings will be available to view for free on the Met Opera homepage for 20 hours after they’re streamed.

92Y online archives

Another New York City arts institution, 92Y, has made its online archives—which contain hundreds of recordings of readings, concerts, and educational talks—free to the public during this time. On Wednesday, March 18, the cultural organization also livestreamed the last recital from its 2019/20 vocal series, featuring mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron and pianist Myra Huang performing songs by Beethoven and Mahler. You can watch the free livestream online.

Broadway performances

The prospect of livestreaming full-length shows from Broadway, which is shut down in New York City until April 12, is also reportedly being considered according to the streaming platform BroadwayHD. In the meantime, the site—which offers a seven-day free trial (before a monthly or yearly subscription)—has a hefty archive of Broadway performances with everything from Cats (1998) and Swan Lake (2015) to Sweeney Todd (1982).

The Berlin Philharmonic, Paris Opera, and more

The Berlin Philharmonic is also closed until April 19 to help contain the spread of the coronavirus. However, the legendary German orchestra is dropping the subscription fee to its online video streaming service, known as its Digital Concert Hall, and will offer archival performances to home audiences for free during the closure. Other major opera houses and concert halls around the world have similar plans to stream free archival performances over the coming weeks, among them: the Paris Opera, London’s Wigmore Hall, Munich’s Bavarian State Opera, the Vienna State Opera, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

“Together, at Home” Instagram Live concerts

On Tuesday, March 17, musician John Legend hosted a free concert on Instagram Live at 4 p.m. (EST). The solo performance was part of “Together, at Home,” a new series of online concerts presented by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Global Citizen that aims to “unite humanity at a time when many may feel isolated at home and inspire people to take meaningful action” to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Coldplay frontman Chris Martin kicked off the Instagram Live series on March 16, performing a number of Coldplay classics, such as “Viva La Vida” and “Yellow,” before inviting Legend to be the next performer to host the virtual concert series on his Instagram. “Together, at Home” will continue to feature livestream shows from a number of not-yet-announced musical artists throughout the duration of social distancing protocols.

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Stream newly released movies on demand

Even if you’ve already prepared a long list of TV shows and movies to stream on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and iTunes during this time of social distancing, there might’ve been an upcoming movie release you were really hoping to see when it hit theaters.

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On Monday, March 16, Universal Pictures made a groundbreaking announcement: Due to coronavirus, the studio will make its movies available at home on the same day as the films’s global theatrical releases, starting with DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour, opening April 10 in the United States. The company also said that movies currently in theatrical release, such as The Invisible Man, The Hunt, and Emma, will become available on a variety of on-demand services such as iTunes and Google Play as early as Friday, March 20. The movies will be available for a 48-hour rental period at a price of $20. 

Disney+ also released Frozen 2 to its streaming network on Sunday, March 15—a full three months earlier than planned.

Around the World in International Films

Free online dance parties, workouts, and cooking classes

Virtual museum tours and movie marathons can help pass the time, but it’s important to stay healthy by moving your body, which proves more difficult for some from the confines of home. To blow off some steam and get your endorphins going, tune into a daily Instagram Live dance party hosted by Lady Gaga’s former backup dancer (follow him at @mkik808), or try a free virtual workout class (yoga, HIIT, and Barre) offered through April 1 on the Down Dog iOS and Android app

Chef Massimo Bottura’s Instagram Live cooking classes

Another important aspect of staying healthy under quarantine is to prepare nutritious meals with the food you have available. Renowned Italian chef Massimo Bottura—the restauranteur behind the three-Michelin-star Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy—is offering up his culinary insights through daily cooking classes on Instagram Live for self-isolated viewers. During the English-language livestreams, which Bottura named “Kitchen Quarantine,” the chef demonstrates how he’s preparing his own dinners while under quarantine. Head to his Instagram (@massimobottura) to catch each livestream at 3 p.m. (EST); after he prepares his dinner, Bottura addresses recipe questions from tuned-in viewers.

“Quar Eye: Cooking Lessons in Quarantine” with Netflix’s Antoni Porowski

On Monday, March 16, Antoni Porowski from Netflix’s Queer Eye launched a similar cooking tutorial series dubbed “Quar Eye: Cooking Lessons in Quarantine.” During the roughly 10-minute videos, which Porowski posts to his Instagram (@antoni) daily, the Fab Five’s food guru teaches viewers how to prepare simple meals while staying at home in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The first episode, for example, shows Porowski making an omelette using canned foods and pantry staples, a dish he dubbed “The Keep Calm-lette” in the caption.

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A post shared by wendy macnaughton (@wendymac) on Mar 17, 2020 at 11:07am PDT

Daily drawing lessons on Instagram Live

New York Times bestselling illustrator and graphic journalist Wendy MacNaughton is offering free, daily drawing classes on Instagram Live for the week of March 16. “The class is for kids of all ages, parents of kids, parents of parents, aunties/uncles, friends, and pets,” the artist shared on her Instagram (@wendymac) in an announcement post.

The livestreams last about 20 minutes—which is “long enough for parents to get a little work done or take a shower and take a couple deep breaths,” MacNaughton wrote. Each virtual drawing class will be kept in MacNaughton’s Instagram stories for 24 hours once the livestream is over. After each class, you can check out the #drawtogether hashtag, where MacNaughton has asked that participants post photos of their drawings so that everyone can check out one another’s work.

Educational courses for at-home kids

School closures across the nation due to the coronavirus mean millions of students and young children are out of classes and at home. Because of this, the educational company Scholastic launched a “Learn at Home” website that offers daily courses for students from pre-kindergarten to grade 6, providing approximately three hours of learning per day through virtual field trips, writing and research projects, and online geography challenges. The website currently has five days’ worth of educational content, although an additional 15 days of coursework is on the way, according to Scholastic. The website, which is accessible on any device that has internet, will remain free and open indefinitely. 

This article originally appeared online on March 16, 2020; we will continue to update it to include current and developing information.

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