Virtual Tours de Force: 6 Cultural Experiences to Enjoy From Home

This article was originally published on Christie’s International Real Estate’s blog Luxury Defined.


The world’s top cultural institutions may have temporarily shut their doors but, thanks to global connectivity, being housebound need not mean missing out. These virtual tours offer the chance to take a round-the-world trip of some of the best cultural experiences.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art at night

The Metropolitan Museum of Art houses some of the world’s most celebrated collections. While it may have temporarily closed its doors, 26 exhibits and more than 200,000 documented works are available to view on a virtual tour.


See the World’s Finest Artworks

The world’s artistic treasures are, for now, safely behind locked doors. But thanks to Google’s Arts & Culture Project, the culturally curious can sate their appetites and explore the exhibits of dozens of the world’s most illustrious museums—wherever they may live.


Virtual tours include exhibits of the iconic fashions of Coco Chanel and Christian Dior at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, while the city’s Museum of Modern Art showcases the works of Dadaist Sophie Taeuber-Arp. The Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico City, meanwhile, offers a fascinating look at the vibrant, idiosyncratic wardrobe of the celebrated artist.


On the other side of the Atlantic, London’s Tate Britain has highlights from its collection—including the works of Turner—via a series of enlightening videos in a journey through 500 years of British art. Meanwhile, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris is showcasing Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces by Monet, Cézanne, and Van Gogh.


Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura

Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura offers up a large helping of optimism—as well as servings of delicious culinary tricks—in Kitchen Quarantine, his Instagram Live cooking classes. Image: Alamy


Improve Your Culinary Skills

If there’s ever been a good time to get in the kitchen and make some fantastic home-cooked dishes, it’s now—and you can do it in the company of a Michelin-starred chef.


Every day at 3pm ET, celebrity chef Massimo Bottura, head of Gucci’s Osteria restaurant in Beverly Hills, is hosting daily live cooking demonstrations on Instagram. Kitchen Quarantine is a reprise of his 2019 Masterclass series of tutorials—but unlike those (which cost $90 each), these new lessons are absolutely free.


Ebullient and engaging, Bottura delivers his lessons with gusto and then follows them up with online Q&As. Given that his first restaurant, Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, has twice been crowned the best in the world, you can be sure that his recipes—from Italian classics to Thai curry—will inspire you to widen your repertoire.


Henry Porter, editor of Vanity Fair UK, recommends reducing lockdown anxiety by meeting friends for a virtual drink. “Whatever joy is released when you see your pals in the flesh is also present in these video cocktails,” he says. Image: Getty Images


Catch Up With Friends Over Drinks

The simple pleasure of sharing food and drink with loved ones is, for now, not an option. So why not follow the example of Henry Porter, the editor of Vanity Fair UK, and start a video cocktail hour with your friends or family?

Porter began by inviting a couple of friends each day to drinks—but rather than meeting in a bar or entertaining at home, they raise a glass in front of their laptop or phone, chatting with one another via a video conferencing app.

He says: “Isolation is bad for a species addicted to social intercourse. I find that people really talk in the video cocktail hour. Maybe that has something to do with the ambiguity of the interaction—you are neither alone nor really in company. You are halfway between the two and perhaps that makes you more candid.”

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain offers virtual tours through video
Designed by architect Frank Gehry, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has 96,875 sq ft (9,000 sq m) of dedicated exhibition space. Thanks to its #GuggenheinBilbaoLive initiatve, you can view works that aren’t yet on display.

Take a Behind-the-Scenes Museum Tour

Spain’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao hasn’t allowed temporary closure to prevent access to its wealth of works. #GuggenheimBilbaoLive, a new section of its website, lets visitors view a series of videos created by the people with the very best inside knowledge: members of the museum’s staff.


You’ll be able to explore exhibitions yet to be unveiled on the museum floor, and families have been kept in mind with videos that help stimulate kids’ creativity and interest in art. Plus, there’s a look at the top-secret work that goes into keeping up the museum’s Frank Gehry-designed building—including areas not usually open to the public.

The Metropolitan Opera House, NYC
Join the thousands of listeners taking their virtual seats at The Metropolitan Opera House’s nightly live streams—but hurry, the performances are only available to view for 23 hours. Image: Jonathan Tichler/Metropolitan Opera

Go to the Opera

“During this extraordinary and difficult time, the Met hopes to brighten the lives of our audience members even while our stage is dark.” That’s the message from New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, which is streaming a different encore presentation from its Live in HD series every day, so you can lose yourself in epic performances from the archives free of charge.


The schedule—featuring masterworks by Wagner, Verdi, and Bellini—includes complete performances from the past 14 years and stars some of opera’s greatest singers. Each performance is available from 7.30pm ET until 6.30pm the following day, both through the Met’s website and its Met Opera on Demand app for streaming devices. There’s also a wealth of additional articles and videos to peruse and enhance your home opera experience.


Author Yiyun Li

You can count on author Yiyun Li’s virtual book club, Tolstory Together, to be around for the long haul. At 1,200 pages long she believes, “War and Peace is a perfect book to read together for the duration of our necessary isolation.” Image: Alamy


Join a Book Club

Always wanted to read a classic, but haven’t had the time to do so? Join Tolstoy Together, a virtual book club started by author Yiyun Li and publisher A Public Space, for a guided tour through Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

In just 30 minutes a day over the course of three months, Li will guide readers through all 1,200 pages of the weighty tome. “I have found that the more uncertain life is, the more solidity and structure Tolstoy’s novels provide,”  she says. Her aim, she explains, is to finish the book “just in time for summer, and with our spirits restored.”