Skip to main content

Love museums? Hate pants? Try these virtual museum tours from your PC

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Remember taking field trips in grade school to the museum? Looking at ancient art didn’t sound exciting when your teacher described the educational trip in the classroom, but, once you got there, it was awesome to see so many of humanity’s cultural accomplishments in one place. Numerous museums have put parts of their collections online, making them easy to explore with the click of a mouse. To coincide with International Museum Day today, May 18, we’ve complied the best online tours and collections of some of the most famous museums in the world.

The British Museum – London, England

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Want a crash course in cultural artifacts from around the world? Look no further than the British Museum, which is over two-and-a-half centuries old and has approximately 8 million objects in its collection. Visit the museum’s online collection which has over 750,000 images, and you’ll see the Rosetta Stone (the real one, not the software) and parts of the Grecian Parthenon. 

Get a closer look at each item thanks to large images and multiple angles. Search for a specific item or take an online tour of a region such as Egypt, ancient Greece, the Middle East, and – of course – Britain. There’s even an overview tour that showcases “the breadth and variety of the Museum’s collection.” Click through medium sized images of the artifacts or click to view a larger image. We really appreciate how much detail, background, and historial context the museum includes with each object.

The Louvre – Paris, France

Image used with permission by copyright holder

While the British Museum’s online collection features items against a plain background, the Louvre’s immersive tour shows the interior of the building itself with a Quicktime plug-in that allows you to spin around in a room and access a pop-up map with highlights marked on it. While there are currently only two full accessible virtual tours, there are several collections available with full screen images and close-ups. These categories include “Masterpieces,” “Kings, Queens, and Emperors,” “The French Revolution,” and “Jewelry.” Oh, and in case you’re wondering, you’ll find the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo under “Masterpieces.”

Our favorite part of the Louvre’s virtual tours is the “you are there” feeling. For example, in the ancient Egyptian room, clicking on an item brings up larger picture and information about the object. Plus, part of the fun of virtually exploring the Louvre is seeing the remains of its former life as a 12th century fortress – complete with a moat and drawbridges, which may be viewed in the basement of the building.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History – Washington, D.C.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you liked the Louvre’s virtual tour, you’re going to love the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s virtual tour. Opened in 1910, the Natural History Museum houses over 126 million specimens of animals, plants, rocks, fossils, and minerals, including the Hope Diamond. Famous fossils and mummies are yours for the viewing. 

The entire museum is available via an online tour, and, like the Louvre’s virtual tours, it’s an immersive experience that gives you a 360 degree view of the museum halls around you. A collapsible map in the upper right corner helps you jump to anywhere in the museum, making it easier to explore it than if you were physically at the museum. As you look around, you’ll see a clickable camera icon, which gives a close-up view of an object as well as the same details that physical visitors see. The controls offer a zoom function that was remarkably clear even when we zoomed in all the way to a dinosaur’s skull. The zoom function is key to getting the most of this virtual museum as you can zoom in on anything you see to get a closer look.

Google Art Project

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Lastly, like most things in the world, Google has integrated itself into museums, too. Browse the collections of hundreds of museums by visiting Choose a place, such as the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York, and you’ll be able to view items from filmmaking past along with details and information about the creator of the object. While this is a great way to get an overview of a museum, not all of the detailed information was necessarily correct. For example, it attributed this Greek Wine Jar from 450 B.C. to “the Chicago Painter (his Name Vase).” Still, it’s a fun way to explore smaller museums around the world.

Editors' Recommendations

Meghan McDonough
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Meghan J. McDonough is a Chicago-based purveyor of consumer technology and music. She previously wrote for LAPTOP Magazine…
Hacker claims to have hit Apple days after hacking AMD
The Apple logo is displayed at the Apple Store June 17, 2015 on Fifth Avenue in New York City

Data breaches happen all the time, but when the giants get hit, it's impossible not to wonder what kind of critical data may become exposed. Earlier this week, notorious cybercriminal Intelbroker reported that they managed to hack AMD. Now, they followed up with claims about hacking Apple, and went as far as to share some internal source code on a hacking forum.

As Apple has yet to comment, all we have to go off is the forum post, first shared by HackManac on X (formerly Twitter). In the post, Intelbroker states that Apple suffered a data breach that led to the exposure of the source code for some of its internal tools. The tools include AppleConnect-SSO, Apple-HWE-Confluence-Advanced. There's been no mention of any customer data being leaked, which is good news, but there could still be some impact on Apple if this proves to be true.

Read more
Alexa to get supercharged with AI
Alexa can now handle multiple requests in a list.

Siri isn't the only digital assistant getting an AI update in the near future. According to sources speaking to Reuters, Amazon is reportedly planning an expansive update for its decade-old digital conversationalist that would implement a two-tier service subscription that could cost users $5 t0 $10 per month.

The new voice assistant, dubbed "Remarkable Alexa" per the sources, could arrive as soon as August 2024. The project, code-named "Banyan" after the species of large ficus tree, has become something of a pet project for CEO Andy Jassy, who promised a “more intelligent and capable Alexa” to shareholders in an April letter. The sources warned, however, that the rumored pricing and release dates could shift as we get closer to August, depending on how well the project comes together prior to that deadline.

Read more
Best Buy is selling restored Chromebooks for under $200
A front view of an Acer Chromebook 315 on a white background.

Getting a cheaper laptop is always nice, especially if you just want to browse the web, watch videos, and do some simple online homework or type up documents. One great choice for this situation is to choose from one of the best Chromebooks, Google's pared down laptops that work well with cloud storage and have a low cost. Another great choice is to go for refurbished laptop deals, taking a gently used computer, saving a ton on it, and giving it a new life. Chromebook deals offer even better savings if you're willing to limit your selection. But the best choice just might be when you combine the two together to get a restored Chromebook.

We've compiled a list of the three restored Chromebooks over at Best Buy that are worth taking a look at. They're all under $200 and, if you're just looking for something easy to work with and don't have too many requirements, any of the three is a good pickup. For that reason, we'll list the three here for you to look at now, but keep reading for a more in-depth analysis.

Read more