The art world has responded to coronavirus by going virtual, and now there are a slew of events and tours online to distract you from your worries. Read on for the best culture you can access while you’re holed up at home.
Enter Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Room
From her celestial Infinity Mirror Room to her expansive dot paintings, revolutionary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama creates art you remember. While it isn’t exactly the same as walking into one of her all-consuming installations, this 14-minute video created by The Broad Museum in LA (with a score by composer Geneva Skeen) is pretty stunning. It’s best watched in the dark.
Visit Frida Kahlo’s La Casa Azul and more with Google’s Arts & Culture hub
Frida Kahlo’s La Casa Azul, or Blue house, is a fascinating and essential stop in Mexico City. The artist’s house – now a museum – is in one of the oldest and most beautiful neighbourhoods in the busy city, and offers a glimpse into the eventful, inspiring and often difficult life of one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century. It’s where she was born and died, where her husband, the artist Diego Rivera, also lived, and where her friends and lovers (including Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky) spent some time. You can “wander” the colourful house and pretty grounds, and check out Kahlo’s personal objects.
La Casa Azul is just one of the hundreds of art institutions that have worked with the Google Cultural Institute to create a comprehensive database of some of the world’s greatest art collections and galleries. Google Arts & Culture isn’t new – it launched in 2011 – but over the years it’s given cultural organisations access to technology (such as street-view tools) to capture art and offer fun 360-degree exploration options. You might not be able to visit Paris’s Musée d’Orsay or New York’s Museum of Modern Art (Moma), in person, but you can on your computer.
Take a five-hour tour of the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg
It would take days to explore everything at the enormous Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, Russia. But this newly released one-take virtual tour of the cavernous institution will take you through 588 works, 45 galleries and several live performances in just five hours. Journey through the museum’s huge collection of Rembrandts, get up close to Caravaggio’s famous 16th-century painting The Lute Player, and watch a contemporary ballet performance in the theatre.
Watch live performances at the Tate in London
Congolese choreographer and dancer Faustin Linyekula had already travelled to London when his show at Tate Modern was cancelled due to coronavirus. He made the most of it though, and filmed his performance in the moody, empty mid-century industrial gallery with fellow performers who had also made it to London for the show. Each of the Tate’s four galleries (the Britain and Modern in London, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives) also displays works online, and there’s a series of videos, podcasts and online classes to keep you going between visits.
Check out the blockbuster exhibitions at the National Gallery of Victoria
Take a curator-led virtual tour of this famous Melbourne gallery via its website and social media channels. See the current blockbuster exhibits Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines and KAWS: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness, including behind-the-scenes documentaries and interviews with artists, designers and curators. There’s also a stack of hands-on activity sheets and interactive games for kids.
Become an expert on Spanish, Italian and Flemish art at Madrid’s Museo del Prado
Each day this splendid museum uploads videos from its galleries to Facebook and Instagram. You won’t understand what the curators are saying if you don’t speak Spanish, but you’ll still enjoy seeing masterpieces from the Spanish, Italian and Flemish schools of art (the museum houses more than 8000 pieces), including plenty of Goya.
Cook in unison, join an artist party and more with Sydney’s 2020 Biennale
While the biennale isn’t a physical institution, this epic art event (which was scheduled to run from March 14 to June 8) has enough happening online to warrant a mention here. The 2020 biennale launched the same week the lockdowns began, but instead of simply cancelling it, it moved online. The online program runs from April 6 to June 8, and each day of the week will cover one of the seven themes. Mondays will begin with a focus on bila (an Indigenous word for river, interpreted here as the natural environment), with podcasts and playlists to create the mood for the week. On Wednesdays artists from across the globe will host social-media takeovers and parties on the festival’s Instagram account, and on weekends artists and community leaders will share their favourite recipes and encourage people to cook in unison.
Give Moma’s Virtual View series a whirl
New York’s Moma) has some of the world’s most recognisable artworks – Van Gogh’s The Starry Night and Monet’s Water Lilies among them. While it’s closed it’s running a Virtual Views series, taking digital visitors through an exhibition or artwork via videos, Q&As with curators, playlists and articles. The first Virtual Views session on April 9 will revolve around the theme of home movies, inspired by the exhibition Private Lives, Public Spaces. Curators will guide audiences through the history and emotions behind amateur films, stream videos from the exhibition, and encourage viewers to make their own films at home. The museum has also compiled a playlist of songs about works of art, including Don McLean’s Vincent and Simon & Garfunkel’s So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright.