Great art spans generations, capabilities, cultures — and now it even triumphs over physical limitations of space. While our wonderful cultural sites in the Bay Area and beyond are temporarily closed to in-person visits during the COVID-19 crisis, art museums, historic sites and other attractions are providing virtual tours or stepping up their online offerings, blogs, and more.
Take a peek at some of these great opportunities:
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: Curators and website teams at the Legion of Honor and the de Young Museum are hard at work creating digital content so folks can get their art fix during this time. Roam the galleries here, visit their YouTube channel for exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes content and check out the blog, which is steadily updated — currently there’s a sneak preview of the upcoming must-see show, “Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving.” For more, go to www.famsf.org.
Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive: The museum just launched a virtual tour of their latest featured exhibition, “Rosie Lee Tompkins: A Retrospective.” Tompkins is widely considered one of the most brilliant and inventive quiltmakers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Her reputation has grown to the point where her work is no longer considered solely within the context of quilting, but celebrated among the great American artistic achievements. For more BAMPFA info, go to www.bampfa.org.
Exploratorium: There’s a new online Learning Toolbox, featuring free science activities and materials addressing timely public health topics around COVID-19, as well as general science support and ideas for virtual classrooms and at-home learning. Those include 285 teacher-tested sciencey activities and “Science Snacks” — projects that use inexpensive, readily available materials and can be done easily at home. Visit www.exploratorium.edu/learn.
Oakland Museum of California: Tour OMCA’s vast collections at collections.museumca.org, everything from Berkeley photographer Dorothea Lange’s intimate portraits during the Great Depression era to the “All Of Us Or None” archive project of historic political posters. There are also “Do at Home” resources for learning activities and a collection of behind-the-scenes videos, such as the intricate installation of the Temple of Reunion for the recent Burning Man exhibit. And OMCA plans to launch a virtual tour soon to highlight three sections from each of its core galleries, Art, History and Natural Science. on the main website at www.museumca.org.
Filoli: Spring is usually one of the most glorious times to visit the extensive gardens at the historic Woodside estate. Take a little stroll through the tulips from Filoli’s spring display, and visit the Sunken Garden, Sundial and Walled Garden here. And check out a gallery of photos and gardening blog posts at www.filoli.org.
San Jose Museum of Art: The museum will be offering in-gallery activities that can be done from home, and revisiting fan favorites, like guided meditations, as well as other previously unseen behind-the-scenes moments such as artist Hung Liu’s first-ever performance art piece, “Four Cantos.” The museum has also launched a new “Education at SJMA” Facebook group with resources and support for homebound students and audiences with new videos of engaging and accessible art activities.
Winchester Mystery House: While San Jose’s historic mansion of mazes and mystery is temporarily closed, it’s offering fans a free digital tour of the estate, which will be accessible until in-person tours resume. And when that does happen, the mansion is. offering a specially priced ticket voucher that can be used at any time in the future with no blackout dates or restrictions, available for $26 ($13 off the box-office price) and valid through May 1, 2021. Visit the mansion at www.winchestermysteryhouse.com.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: Online resources abound at SFMOMA, where they’ve gathered videos and articles from around the museum to provide food for thought, a reason to smile and a moment of connection. The homepage is updated weekly with #MuseumFromHome content. Currently there’s a great video of photographer Michael Jang showing viewers around his rad San Francisco home and studio.
Outside the Bay Area
Not enough art and fun? Check out even more virtual gems:
• Tour three famous exhibits at The Louvre: https://www.louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne#tabs
• Visit the Guggenheim: https://www.guggenheim.org/collection-online
• Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: https://naturalhistory2.si.edu/vt3/NMNH/
• Take two virtual tours at the Getty Museum: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/the-j-paul-getty-museum?hl=en
• Check out The British Museum: https://britishmuseum.withgoogle.com/
• See what’s happening at NASA: https://oh.larc.nasa.gov/oh/
• Tune into a live webcam at the Monterey Bay Aquarium: https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams