Digitally accessible museums

I realised recently that many museums and art galleries around the world can be viewed on Google Street View. This is useful not only as it increases access for those with disabilities or limited mobility but also creates access for everyone during times of lockdown or other Covid restrictions. It is also brilliant fun!

The Ambassadors, National Gallery, from Google Street View
The Ambassadors, National Gallery, from Google Street View

Perhaps this feature of Street View has been available for a long time but I was delighted to discover it recently and promptly had a look around museums I am familiar with such as the National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum and the Musée D’Orsay but also the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Lahore Museum which I have never visited and am not likely to.

Lahore Museum on Google Street View
Lahore Museum on Google Street View

Some are easier to navigate around than others: I failed to access the upper floors of some museums, whereas in others it was easy to go up or down the staircases. The Dulwich Picture Gallery was particularly simple to navigate and you could get a good view of the paintings. Many art galleries, when viewed digitally, have a circle in front of the paintings which you can click and a side panel opens on your screen giving you more detail about the picture in question.

The Ambassadors, National Gallery, with information panel
The Ambassadors, National Gallery, with information panel

If you find a museum on Google Maps then click the little man to bring up the blue Street View areas, you can tell whether the museum can be visited because of all the blue lines showing where the Street View camera has been.

National Gallery on Street View
National Gallery on Street View

Some just have blue dots which means you can go inside but only in a certain position, you can’t navigate around the place. That said, one of the museums I tried this with was Hull Maritime Museum which didn’t have blue lines inside it so I assumed you couldn’t visit it virtually but when I tried anyway, found myself inside and I not only navigated around but also up and down the staircase!

Musée D'Orsay on Street View
The Musée D’Orsay on Street View

It’s definitely worth having a play with this function of Google Maps and Street View. Obviously, seeing paintings ‘in the flesh’ as it were is best but when that’s not possible this is a great substitute!

Monet Waterlillies, Orangery, Paris on Google Street View
Monet Waterlillies, Orangery, Paris on Google Street View

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