How to Explore the World’s Top Cultural Destinations From Home

Travel – no matter how you do it – has the power to connect and to build communities. Cultural institutions are proving this more than ever right now by bringing travel–worthy experiences online. Here’s how to get cultured, support the arts and find inspiration for your future bucket list.

March 18, 2020
A scene from Tannhäuser at the MET Opera
Tannhäuser.   Photo: Marty Sohl, Met Opera

New York: Visit the Metropolitan Opera House. You may not be on one of the theatre’s plush red seats, but you can pretend: Every night at 7:30 pm EST, the Metropolitan Opera will stream performances from its archive. The streams kicked off on March 16 with Bizet’s Carmen, conducted by Yannick Nézet–Séguin and starring Elīna Garanča and Robert Alagna; more classics like Verdi’s La Traviata and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin are coming up.

Milan: See live art inside the Triennale Milano. The design and art museum has actually managed to put together an original exhibit for the month of March. Decameron: Streaming Stories takes inspiration from Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron, about a group of people telling stories to pass the time during the Plague in 1348, inviting artists, architects, intellectuals, musicians and journalists to enter the empty museum to develop a personal story – so far, guests have included sports journalist Pierluigi Pardo and actress Lella Costa. The stories are broadcast live daily at 5 p.m. CET on Triennale Milano’s Instagram.

Exterior view of the Berlin Philharmonie
   Photo: Simone Hutsch (Unsplash)

Berlin: Enjoy music from the Berliner Philharmonie. While the landmark concert hall, home to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, is closed, they’ve made their digital concert hall free for everyone. Make sure to claim your access to the collection of concerts and films, such as chief conductor Kirill Petrenko leading Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, by March 31. And until you can plan a visit, pair your digital concert with a virtual tour of the celebrated gold–hued building.

A moose diorama at the American Museum of Natural History
   Photo: AMNH, R. Mickens

New York: Tour the American Museum of Natural History’s dioramas. When museum dioramas were first created – as early as 1889 – they were windows into parts of the world that viewers couldn’t yet travel to. See some of the American Museum of Natural History’s 100+ dioramas on the Art of the Diorama Tour with guide Michael Malagold. The 30–minute video, available on the museum’s Facebook page, takes you through the history of the “enclosed, accurate three–dimensional displays of flora and fauna” in the Hall of African Mammals, the Hall of North American Mammals and more. (Every day at 2 p.m. EST the museum will play different previously recorded Facebook Lives filmed inside the famed Upper West Side building.)

Imagem Para Vaso Grego Contemporâneo 2, Marcelo Cipis (1959) at the Art Basel
Marcelo Cipis (1959), Imagem Para Vaso Grego Contemporâneo 2, 2019; Óleo sobre tela; 63 x 55 in.   Photo: Ding Musa / courtesy of Bergamin & Gomide

Hong Kong: Attend Art Basel. Shortly after organizers made the call to cancel Art Basel Hong Kong, the fair announced they would set up online viewing rooms for the 233 participating galleries. Accessible through the website and app from March 20 to 25, the virtual booths will highlight more than 2,000 artworks, including a Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room via Ota Fine Arts. Art Basel Hong Kong 2021, anyone?

Worldwide: Stream performances from The Social Distancing Festival. When a Toronto playwright’s production was cancelled as a result of the need for social distancing, he created an online hub to promote the disrupted work of artists and performers. The calendar lists shows to stream and events to partake in around the world, like an audio performance of Through the Narrows, featuring images of Z Puppets Rosenschnoz puppets, or a Facebook Live singalong with Choir! Choir! Choir!

Vancouver: Watch the otters in real–time at the Vancouver Aquarium. What’s more therapeutic than watching adorable otters for hours on end? Not much, if you ask us. Thankfully the otters are, as always, playfully flitting across their habitat at the Vancouver Aquarium, and you can tune in live via the Sea Otter Cam.