Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Virtual Tour – The Lawrentian

The museum-goer in me has felt beyond helpless recently as we witness continued increases in COVID-19 cases. As we all know, the onset of the pandemic forced many venues to temporarily close, museums being just one category. While most museums remain open today, the rise in COVID-19 cases has put a pause on museum visits for many people, myself included. Although I love supporting local museums, including our own Wriston Art Galleries here on campus, I keep losing hope of traveling again. That being said, I’ve decided to take it upon myself to revise virtual museum tours where I can’t go yet. First, the Google Arts & Culture virtual tour of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

While I hope to one day visit Boston in person, I decided to take a virtual tour of the Museum of Fine Arts as it was one of the greatest tours Google Arts & Culture has to offer. On the main tour screen, a brief overview of the museum is given. Next, viewers are drawn to the 18 stories, or “exhibits” of the museum that are available. These stories range from topics like “Radical Geometries” to “Fashion Photography at the MFA” and “Latino and Latino Artists at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.” I was pleased to see a fairly wide variety of exhibits, although there were only 18 available, which is generally less than what one would get in a real museum for a museum of this size .

As viewers choose the story they want to see, they are guided through a summary of the exhibit, similar to an introductory panel, and then they can click on each work in that exhibit. Each piece comes with an identification of the object, as well as a short one to two sentence interpretive label. Most of the labels were digestible and interesting to read. However, as a label enthusiast, I wish the title, artist, and year of each work were larger and easier to read on screen. Additionally, I wish there were audio or video options for viewers who prefer to receive their information in ways other than text. While some exhibits featured clips from YouTube videos, they were very sparse and scattered. The actual digital images, I will say, were high resolution, easy to see, and interesting to flick through.

Alongside these stories, viewers also have the option of browsing a specific medium, such as the textile collection. I found this to be a unique experience, as museum visitors usually don’t have the ability to “sort” exhibits into specific categories, such as by artwork medium. This feature can be especially useful for someone doing a detailed project or research. In addition to media categorization, viewers can also view the museum’s artwork through a dated or color-coded timeline. While this is not how I prefer artwork to be sorted in a physical museum space, I thought these were fun features that can create a new viewing experience. I also think these kinds of sorting options make visiting this virtual museum more accessible to a wide variety of learners and people of different ages. I mean, viewers can even sort to see only the artwork images if they don’t feel like looking at labels or text.

Was this virtual tour of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts like what a visitor would receive in the actual museum? No, probably not exactly. However, for those of you who want to get even the slightest taste of Boston’s museums, I recommend checking out this tour. The exhibits might appeal to people particularly interested in fashion and art conservation, as the stories are heavy on the topics of preserving clothes, shoes and accessories. Obviously, there will be flaws in all virtual tours, as there are also in physical museums. I can’t say it was the most amazing museum experience of my life, but I will say that I learned new perspectives on art and was quite entertained on my computer. While this virtual Google Arts & Culture tour is unlike any other tour you’ve experienced, it might be just what you need to satisfy your art exhibit craving.

For those who would like to see the virtual tour of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for themselves, visit: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/museum-of-fine-arts-boston.

About Julius Southworth

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