Visit Italian museums online

Due to the Covid-19 health emergency, Italian museums and archeological sites are closed, but their websites and social media accounts are there for you

Spring is usually considered the ideal season to visit Italy, in particular its città d’arte, and many of you may have planned a trip in this period. Unfortunately we cannot replace your dream holiday, but we can give you a preview of what it will be like and – why not? – some extra inspiration. Though museums and archeological sites are currently closed to the public due to the Covid-19 health emergency, directors and their staffs are working hard to show that culture does not stop. That’s why, like many other institutions around the world, several Italian museums have made their collections available online – on their websites, YouTube channels, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Some of them have even created guided virtual tours and short documentaries to let the world discover and enjoy at least part of Italy’s rich cultural heritage from the social distance of our homes.

Museo Egizio, Turin

The entrance to the Museo Egizio, Turin
The entrance to the Museo Egizio, Turin

Established in 1824, this is the world’s oldest museum entirely devoted to Egyptian culture. With its 10,000 sqm spread over 5 floors, 15 halls hosting 3,300 exhibits, and a 600 sqm space dedicated to current exhibitions, it is the world’s second most important Egyptian museum, following the one in Cairo. However, don’t let its long-standing history and prestige mislead you: the Museo Egizio is far from being a dull and dusty institution, and its online initiatives, some of which are specifically addressed to children, will prove that once again.

A sphinx exhibited in the museum
A sphinx exhibited in the museum

The museum’s FacebookInstagram, and Twitter pages as well as its YouTube channel offer a wealth of engaging resources to let us discover the secrets of ancient Egypt. Le passeggiate del direttore, the monthly event allowing a group of 30 people to take a special tour of the museum guided by its director Christian Greco, have thus become available to anyone, with new videos released every Thursday and Saturday. In addition to this new initiative, there is another series called Stelevisione (stone vision) wherein children interview Egyptologists, asking them the questions we’d all love to ask.

Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

The courtyard of the Pinacoteca di Brera
The courtyard of the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

Officially established in 1809, in the Napoleonic era, the Pinacoteca di Brera is among Italy’s leading art galleries. Its collection ranges from prehistory to contemporary art, with masterpieces from different artistic schools and several examples of sacred art. This museum hosts world-famous paintings such as Lo sposalizio della Vergine by Raphael and Il bacio by Francesco Hayez, also available online in high resolution, accompanied by a valuable explanation.

Lo Sposalizio della Vergine by Raphael
Lo Sposalizio della Vergine, Raphael, 1504

Besides the collection, the website hosts a new project, myBrera, aimed at making the role of the entire staff visible, thanks to the portraits by James O’Mara. Staff members were asked to choose a work or a place and to briefly introduce themselves. Moreover, James Bradburne, director of Pinacoteca di Brera and Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense, has launched a series of short videos (website, FacebookInstagramYouTube) entitled Appunti per una resistenza culturale, showing that “a museum does not consist only of the objects it exhibits” and that “the heart of the city is still beating.”

Museo Virtuale di Piazza Duomo, Parma

Piazza Duomo with the cathedral and the baptistry, Parma

Also this year’s Italian capital of culture has its own virtual museum. Born a few years ago as part of the project “Piazza Duomo a Parma in 3D. Da vedere, da toccare,” this virtual museum allows visitors to discover the cathedral, the baptistry and the collection of the Museo Diocesano through seventy-six 3D models and fourteen immersive photographs.

Gallerie degli Uffizi, Florence

The Uffizi in Florence
Gli Uffizi, Florence

The Gallerie degli Uffizi museum complex includes Gli Uffizi art gallery, Giardini di Boboli, Palazzo Pitti, and Corridoio Vasariano, the passageway designed by Giorgio Vasari in the 16th century connecting Palazzo Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli gardens through Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo degli Uffizi. Attracting nearly 4.4 million visitors, it was Italy’s most visited museum last year. Its website hosts works from the whole collection, including Botticelli’s Nascita di Venere (Birth of Venus) and Michelangelo’s Sacra Famiglia (Tondo Doni), and authentic virtual exhibitions in the IperVisioni section.

La Nascita di Venere by Botticelli
La Nascita di Venere, Sandro Botticelli, ca. 1485

Gallerie degli Uffizi have recently joined Facebook with Uffizi Decameron, a social media campaign launched also on Twitter and Instagram with a touch of Tuscan humour, inspired by Boccaccio’s Decameron. The analogy is clear: just as the protagonists of the Decameron escape the black plague by finding shelter in a villa outside Florence and tell stories to pass the time, the Uffizi want to offer us virtual shelter and entertainment in the time of coronavirus. Furthermore, to enrich the cultural offer, the official YouTube channel features interesting conferences on different topics, from the Etruscans to Leonardo.

Musei Vaticani, Vatican City

Il Giudizio Universale by Michelangelo
Il Giudizio Universale, Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1536-41

A visit to the Vatican Museums is a must for anybody staying in Rome for more than a few hours. This huge complex includes masterpieces such as the Sistine Chapel with frescoes by Michelangelo, Botticelli, Perugino, and the so-called Raphael’s rooms, as well as a long list of museums dedicated to a wide range of subjects, from anthropology to contemporary art. Thanks to the virtual tours and videos made available on the website, you will be surrounded by their astonishing beauty from the comfort of your home.

Discover also our top 5 places to visit in Italy

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