Amidst concerns over the spread of novel coronavirus COVID-19, businesses, cultural institutions, and schools are closing their doors. As America waits out the virus indoors, the best that Philadelphia has to offer is going online. The city of brotherly love is making it possible for out of towners and staycationers to visit the city’s museums and monuments from the safety of their homes. Virtual tours are popping up all over the city packed with ways to explore the cradle of liberty.
Art Around Town
Association for Public Art
Philadelphia is a city where art is, truly, all around. Sculpture gardens, murals, museums, and installation art are scattered throughout every corner of the city. The Association for Public Art has cataloged the city’s art and created an interactive map. The map has clickable red and green pins (the green pins represent museums without walls) that users can tap to uncover what creative gem lives there. Each pin opens a link with a photo of the art, details about the piece, and notes about the area. Museums without walls often have a 360-degree self-guided tour option for independent exploration.
The Barnes Foundation
Albert Barnes believed that art should be viewed in terms of visual relationships such as color, line, or space. The Barnes Foundation has created a unique, online experience that allows users to peruse its art not by collection but by visual theme. E-visitors can use the interactive bar at the top of the page to choose colors, light saturation, spacial composition, and line style to explore paintings, jewelry, and artifacts that please the eye in similar ways. There is even a shuffle feature for those interested in a random artistic experience.
Auguste Rodin, a prolific sculpture in the late 19th and early 20th-century, created innovative techniques that paved the way for modern sculpture. The Rodin Museum houses the largest collection of his work outside of France, his native country. The collection of nearly 150 bronzes, plasters, and marbles is available online. Since sculpture is a three-dimensional art form, the museum has provided comprehensive photos of Rodin’s work from multiple angles and measurements to give viewers an idea of scale.
The Great Outdoors from the Great Indoors
Mural Arts Philadelphia
Art is not restricted to galleries and Philly has a thriving outdoor art culture. Mural Arts Philadelphia has produced more than 3,600 works of outdoor art. Browse murals across the city using an interactive drop-down menu divided by neighborhood. Each neighborhood has exhibits dedicated to the wall art in the area and provides photos, details about the work, and information about the project that commissioned it. Some of the murals are still in progress, so check back for updates!
Whimsical, magic gardens have enchanted readers for decades. Philadelphia's Magic Gardens brings that charm off the page and into real life. Take a virtual, point-and-click tour of the bi-level outdoor space (the indoor galleries haven’t gone digital at this point) and explore a mixed media immersive art space covered in mosaics. The tour feels a bit like a video game and is excellent for kids. The website has activities for young children such as magic garden themed coloring pages, connect-the-dots, and seek and finds.
History that Rings a Bell
You Visit Virtual Tours
No visit to Philadelphia would be complete without touring the monuments of the American Revolution. You Visit has created digital, 360-degree tours of Philly’s most famous landmarks. Virtually visit the Betsy Ross House, Independence Mall, and Reading Terminal Market from the comfort of home. Check out the rivalry between Geno’s and Pat’s cheesesteaks, located across the street from one another. Each e-tour is accompanied by narration with historical information and fun facts. Or, watch the Philadelphia highlights reel for a quick view of the city, including the Liberty Bell.
Museum of the American Revolution
Young history buffs can engage in distance learning at the Museum of the American Revolution. The 16,000 square foot museum has scrollable tours of permanent exhibits organized by date and theme. The website provides lesson plans for kids, lesson guides for teachers, and a 25-minute virtual field trip, Beyond the Battlefield. Adults can check out the Read the Revolution section for book excerpts, letters, and artifacts from the Revolutionary War in an easy to navigate, digitized format.