Culture in the time of Coronavirus

Diana Skok Corridori


The self-quarantine of coronavirus doesn’t mean culture is off-limits. Through the magic of technology, there are opportunities to see some of the most renowned museums in the world as well as watching an opera from The Met in the comfort of your home. Have a look at these ideas for some fascinating virtual experiences.


Need a break from the news? Immerse yourself in the beauty of van Gogh, Michelangelo and Monet. Art lovers have access to paintings, frescoes and sculptures with virtual tours that are presented by various methods including videos, detailed photos, slideshows and even Google’s “street view” inside certain museums. 

Rijksmuseum’s YouTube page has videos about their current exhibitions, but recently started a series called, #Rijksmuseumfromhome in which their curators who are working remotely, share commentaries on some of their favourite pieces while they work from home.

The Vatican Museums offer 360-degree tours which come in particularly handy for viewing the Sistine Chapel. There is also a personal tour guide that walks you through St. Peter’s Square as well as the basilica. 

The Museu de Arte de São Paulo teamed up with Google Arts & Culture to display its collection of “crystal” easels in which paintings appear to be floating in an open space. 

Navigate the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which houses 65,000 works of art via Google’s street view. The museum also has a film program that it has taken out of the cinema and moved into the digital world by offering ‘access to unique films’ online with its  “Movie Nights” initiative. 

This is just a sampling of what is available, for an extensive choice of virtual visits, have a look at Google Arts & Culture - they are working with over 2,500 museums worldwide.


There is nothing that soothes the soul like music and luckily concert halls are live streaming operas, ballets and concertos so everyone can enjoy. 

New York’s Metropolitan Opera launched “Nightly Met Opera Streams,” a free series of performances available on the company’s website during the coronavirus closure. Their goal is to “Brighten the lives of audience members even while their stage is dark.”  

Vienna State Opera is offering a different opera every day for free. Apart from a few exceptions, the online program will follow the same schedule as the live lineup. 

The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra has a variety of past on-demand concerts. Some highlights include Anne-Sophie Mutter performing Beethoven’s Concerto for violin and orchestra.

For more musical selections, check out Bach Track, it has hundreds of searchable performances for listening and viewing.


Getting lost in a good book can be one of the best ways to relax, reenergize and to escape. In modern times and especially in this period, a good read offers an opportunity to switch off the news, messages, notifications and constant bombardment of information. 

Need some inspiration? Why not join a virtual book club? Not only will you get some ideas for what to read next, but participating in a book club is also a great way to stay connected in this time of isolation.

Here are some resources to help you find that perfect group of like-minded readers. 

The Rumpus Book. There is a fee associated with this club, but every month they will send a book through the mail and discussions will go on throughout the month as you read it. Then, readers get an exclusive invite to an online discussion with the author at the end of the month. 

There are a variety of book clubs that celebrities host. Most everyone knows about Oprah’s book club, but folks like Sarah Jessica Parker and Emma Watson have also joined in the fun. Reece Witherspoon’s book club took the social route and starts conversations about her suggestions via her Instagram account.

Speaking of social, The Social Book Club offers readers a selection of books then posts questions and comments on its Instagram page throughout the month where readers can share their thoughts.


Not necessarily liking what is going on the present? Why not visit the past with these fun and educational resources?

Simple History is a youtube channel that produces short animated videos focusing on history and specifically culture, epic battles and events that shaped the world. A similar account using animation is Suibhne. These channels are great for kids but entertaining for adults too!

Ancient Rome Live offers extensive learning opportunities about the city of Rome as well as the Roman Empire through various social media outlets. This free educational platform covers more than 3,000 years of Rome’s history. It is not only geared towards students but also travellers and lovers of the eternal city. Sign up for free live seminars here

For those who prefer to listen rather than watch, here is a curated list that offers a variety of subjects from revolutions to historical figures and even includes “ridiculous history.”

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