Rain is in the forecast today where I live. Rainy days are always my favorite days to visit museums. Besides offering shelter from the elements and something to do when Mother Nature is giving herself a bath, at the risk of maybe sounding strange, I feel like I absorb more when it’s raining. I’m more curious, more dreamy, more spongelike (ha, ha). With the rain pattering down outside my window, I thought it would be the perfect, cozy day to wander the corridors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City or get lost in and inspired by the history of the Mark Twain House in Connecticut, two of my favorite museums. But what to do when the museums are you know, closed? Check out an online tour!
I will say, this post was inspired by my friend, Shannon, a research associate at the Met, who I spent a lovely afternoon with not too long ago, exploring the American Wing (her area of expertise and my personal favorite). On a side note, Shannon has joined the circle here and I can’t wait to introduce you to her once I resume that square of The Modern Bee figurative quilt. In the meantime, here are five iconic spots that are offering online tours or insightful content at a time when doors remain shut while the longing to explore the world around us remains high. They’ll never be a substitute for the real thing, but they give us something to look forward to. I’ll take it.
National Women’s History Museum. They don’t have online tours exactly, but I’m about to dig into the oral histories and online content (from First Lady Florence Harding’s waffle recipe to lesson plans for students inspired by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, for starters) this afternoon.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’ve been on an “Empty Met” tour, but never imagined doing the kind of empty Met tour I’ll be doing later this afternoon. Surprisingly, today I’ve decided I’m going for a more audio rather than visual tour of the Met and plan to start with some clips that are part of the Great Hall Commission by the Cree artist, Kent Monkman. The museum has a collection of audio clips from different galleries to suit your fancy. Go get gloriously lost, wander over to the Met Cloisters or the Met Bauer while you’re at it.
The State Hermitage. I’ve long been fascinated and horrified by the history of the Romanov dynasty, specifically the reign of Tsar Nicholas II (blame it on the Anastasia cartoon for introducing me to their story in middle school). If you have time to spare, check out this 5hr (!) visual tour of some of its galleries at the State Hermitage.
Museum of Tolerance. This is one of the most moving, haunting and unique museums I have ever been to, with a mission to educate about the horrors of the Holocaust and as the name suggests, the importance of tolerance. I highly recommend a visit in real life once it is possible to do so if you’re ever in Los Angeles. In the meantime, they have a lot of resources to give you a taste of the lessons the museum strives to teach its visitors. For starters, every Wednesday at 1pm PST, they offer live Zooms with Holocaust survivors which I’ve bookmarked to check out.
The Mark Twain House. What would American literature be without the one and only Mark Twain? His years spent in the family home he built in Hartford, Connecticut were known to be some of his happiest and most productive and it was during this time that he wrote my forever favorite, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Another must visit if you are ever in the area, as you can feel the love and creativity running through this cozy home. For now, you can tour it virtually and even cooler, you can join the museum on Wednesdays at 2pm EST (right before your Museum of Tolerance Zoom, depending on where you are!) when you can virtually spend time in Twain’s library (which is a sight to see and the fountain, a sight to be heard!)
Have a great week and stay curious.