We all believe that someday soon the open road will be open to all of us once again. In the meantime, you’ve binged every British detective show on Netflix, and On Demand doesn’t seem willing to meet your demands. What’s outside that you can bring inside?
Through the wonder of the Internet (surprise, surprise!), you can go places and see things you never thought you’d see. Here’s a compilation of some cultural institutions and other terrific places that you can visit from your favorite couch or comfy chair.
American Museum of
New York, New York
On the museum’s OLogy science website, you can choose any “ology” you want to explore, from anthropology, where you can play music that travelers might have heard on the ancient Silk Road and compose your own Silk Road song, to zoology, where birds, wasps and all sorts of bipeds and quadrupeds are ready to be examined. The museum’s general website has a plethora of pages to excite the excitable and interest the interested. Check out the T. rex or the History of Planetariums videos.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
New York, New York
Did you know that New York City’s Guggenheim Museum was recently designated a part of a UNESCO World Heritage site? It’s one of a collection of eight of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpieces—and the only museum designed by Wright—to receive this recognition. You can take a tour of the museum’s famous rotunda on its website. You can also access the museum’s digital archive containing more than 200 art books and more than 65 artist profiles.
The late Chinese American architect I. M. Pei designed the Museum of Islamic Art, and you can take a virtual 360-degree tour of the interior of the museum on this website dedicated to Qatar’s museums and heritage sites. But don’t stop with a quick tour. The collections in this and the other museums are fascinating, with treasures that most Westerners have not seen and may never see, from an 8th-century section of the Qur’an to tiles, portraits, and artifacts up to 1,400 years old.
The Qatar Museums website also links to the National Museum of Qatar and the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art. Plan on spending quite a bit of time visiting these institutions.
National Gallery of Art
Schedule an afternoon (or two) to take in the more than 42,000 works from the National Gallery of Art. You can go for Baroque or get real with the 2,000-plus pieces in the Realism collection. You can learn about Degas and the European Open-Air Painting from the current online exhibit. Seriously, 42,000 pieces of art are waiting for you. You’re going to stand them up?
National Museum of Qatar, Photo by Danica O. Kus
If you’ve been visiting the sites highlighted so far, you may have noticed that many have connections to Google Arts & Culture (artsandculture.google.com). Kudos to Google. Its site contains digital galleries from more cultural institutions than Amazon has movies.
With Google Street View, you can “tour” museums from around the world, such as the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, with its Botticelli and Michelangelo masterpieces; the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, with its astounding collection of Mayan artifacts; and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, with art from the Dutch Masters Hals, Vermeer, and Rembrandt.
With Google Street View files, you can even “walk” through the Taj Mahal, Stonehenge, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator.
Thanks to Google’s partnership with the National Park Service, you can watch videos of whales breaching at Kenai Fjords National Park, explore collections from national historic sites, and examine more than 3,800 artifacts in high definition. You can practically hug a giant redwood.
Restoration Completion, Photo by Danica O. Kus
OLD-SCHOOL COUCH TRAVEL
What’s that? You’d like to put your laptop down before you cover the keys with wing sauce and cheese-puff powder? It’s time to take a couch trip just like your grandparents used to do. It’s time for a movie or two.
There are more road movies than we have time for, so let us suggest a few of our favorites, and you can take them and leave with them (see what we did there?).
Speaking of your grandparents, they might be familiar with the Bing Crosby/Bob Hope Road to… movies. Bing and Bob sang and joked their way through Bali, Hong Kong, and five other traveling movies. The movies are innocent, outdated, and corny fun for family nights.
Can you hang ten on the coffee table? You might be tempted to try after watching a few of these classic surfing movies: Endless Summer (the best); Surfing Giants (big waves); Step Into Liquid (surfing from Ireland to Texas); and Surf’s Up (penguins for the kids).
You want scenery? Start with the two Lord of the Rings trilogies that turned New Zealand from Australia’s neighbor to a tourism hotspot. Need more? Try A River Runs Through It (fly-fishing in the Rockies) and Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick and slow but groundbreaking cinematography in Ireland and England). Throw in Lawrence of Arabia for more epic landscapes.
Finally, a few perennial picks: If you’re itching for space travel, sign up for Serenity instead of those other Star vehicles. Want some fast-moving San Francisco scenery? Try Steve McQueen’s Bullitt. Last, but not least, Local Hero will make you head for Scotland once the planes are flying again.
There you have it: one man’s opinion on a few ways to stave off the cabin fever of 2020. Make your own list, and share it with your friends.