Today, museums around the world are working to digitize their collections. While this most often culminates in online archives of objects, an increasing number of institutions are inviting the public to take virtual tours of their galleries, enabling anyone to peruse their permanent collections. Some, however, have even taken this forward-thinking approach a step further, offering digital access to past shows.
In this eclectic selection of online exhibitions, you’ll find something for everyone. Whether you opt to wander around the Museum of Modern Art’s first-ever exposition or learn about lost art, these special exhibitions can turn an ordinary day at home into a cultural experience.
Check out an eclectic selection of online exhibitions from museums, libraries, and other cultural institutions around the world.
Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, van Gogh from the Museum of Modern Art
In November 1929, New York City’s Museum of Modern Art made its grand debut. To mark the occasion, the museum held Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, Van Gogh, an exhibition showcasing the works of Post-Impressionist pioneers.
Celebrated for bridging the gap between modernist European art and modern American audiences, this show inspired a string of important exhibitions to come—and subsequently set the scene for MoMA’s enduring success.
Painting by Numbers from the State Library of New South Wales
In the past, you’d need to peruse a big book to see the botanical illustrations of Ferdinand Bauer. Now, however, you can check out Painting by Numbers, an online exhibition that offers a modern way to explore the vintage drawings.
With 300 works organized by Bauer’s own complex color-coding process, launching this interactive website was undoubtedly an undertaking—it’s no wonder it called for a collaboration between the State Library of New South Wales, the Natural History Museum Vienna, the Bodleian Libraries Oxford, the M. M. Gryshko National Botanical Garden in Kiev, the Natural History Museum London, and the Linnean Society in London!
Landscape Drawings in The Frick Collection from the Frick Collection
The Frick Collection in New York City boasts a world-renowned collection of European art. In 2015, the museum put some of this work to the forefront with Landscape Drawings in The Frick Collection, an exhibition inspired by the Frick’s acquisition of Antoine Vollon’s View of Dieppe Harbor from 1873.
What made this work so special? According to the museum, “the watercolor found an ideal context among drawings by Vollon’s contemporaries and forebears—including Claude, Corot, and Whistler—with whom he shared a drive to investigate the technical possibilities for representing on paper the textures and intangible atmospheric effects of the three-dimensional world.”
See this painting and more when you wander through the virtual exhibition on the Frick’s website.
Gustave Doré: The Reign of Imagination from the Musée d’Orsay
Skilled in printing, drawing, illustrating, graphic art, and sculpting, Gustave Doré was one of the 19th century’s most creative figures. The French artist explored the “main genres and formats of his era, ranging from satire to religion, and from sketches to monumental canvases,” an acclaimed approach that was at the core of the Musée d’Orsay’s 2014 show, Gustave Doré: The Reign of Imagination.
If you missed this successful exhibition, you’re in luck—you can explore its curated collection of paintings, engravings, and more thanks to the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
Beautiful Blooms: Flowering Plants on Stamps from the National Postal Museum
If you’ve sent or received a letter through the United States Postal Service over the last 50 years, chances are you’ve encountered a stamp adorned with a flower. To commemorate this floral phenomenon, the National Postal Museum in Washington DC cultivated Beautiful Blooms: Flowering Plants on Stamps, a show that ran from 2017 through 2019.
Featuring 30 pieces of colorful art, this exhibition details the development of stamps while also illustrating the importance of native flowers—both on paper and in the wild.
“Based on the varied and growing number of botanical-related stamps issued by the United States Postal Service (USPS), these stamps will continue to be a favorite with the American public and will educate citizens about our diverse and colorful botanical heritage.”
Heritage at Risk from the Europeana Collections
Recently, two major events have had a profound effect on the world’s cultural landscape. On September 2, 2018, 20 million irreplaceable artifacts were lost as Brazil’s National Museum burned to the ground, and, on April 15, 2019, Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral was devastated by a fire. Unfortunately, these catastrophes are just two in a long line of unfortunate events, as made clear by Heritage at Risk: Protecting and Preserving Endangered Cultural Heritage—a virtual exhibition by online archival platform Europeana Collections.
This unique presentation “explores the natural and man-made threats to cultural heritage, from ancient times until today,” making it an interesting experience for environmental enthusiasts, history buffs, and everyone in between.