Seeing the world’s wonders in the comfort of your home
Netflix and chill? We know that pastime is getting old. But here comes a new option.
Thank the heavens many institutions (in some cases, boosted by supporters and enthusiasts) have stepped up and strengthened their online presence for our benefit amid the pandemic. So while it is still difficult to move around, these must-visit places are now literally at our fingertips. We can stop binge-watching or lurking on social media to do better: transport our minds to instructive, inspiring spaces with virtual tours.
The British Museum keeps artifacts illustrating over 2 million years of human existence. The collection includes the Parthenon marbles, the Egyptian mummies and items allegedly taken under controversial conditions (which is part of the excitement).
This museum is not only in the heart of London anymore. With Britishmuseum.org, a virtual catalog and over 60 galleries are accessible online. Google Cultural Institute came up with “The Museum of the World” (Britishmuseum.withgoogle.com), an interactive map organizing significant objects according to their origin and specific purposes. Items are explained with texts and recordings from museum curators themselves. Access 2,000-plus other sites around the globe at Artsandculture.google.com/partner.
San Diego Zoo
The very first YouTube video, uploaded in 2005, was taken at this California zoo. That’s just one of the many pop references to the attraction. At least before the pandemic and its gorillas tested positive for COVID-19, it registered around 4 million visitors yearly. Established in 1916, it pioneered cageless exhibits and now has 800 species and subspecies of animals.
Want to see the wildlife in action? Watch how the tiger, polar bear and 10 other animals live (Zoo.sandiegozoo.org/live-cams). If your interest leans toward marine life, the Monterey Bay Aquarium—the inspiration for the Marine Life Institute from “Finding Dory”—has a similar service (Montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams). If these bore you, get the exciting South African safari experience through WILDwatch Live (andBeyond on YouTube).
Angkor Wat in Cambodia is a thousand-year-old monument with a network of over 100 temples. Recognizing its significance, Unesco saw it fit to declare Angkor Wat a World Heritage Site in 1992. With Treks (google.com/maps/about/treks/), Google Maps maximized Street View to ensure that, even from our own homes, we can visit select corners of the world’s largest ancient city: the unique rose-pink Banteay Srei, the lost lost temple of Beng Mealea, the artful promenade Angkor Thom and Tah Prohm of “Lara Croft” fame. Some 22 other sites dotting the planet are also available, including Samburu National Reserve in Kenya and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.
Filipino Catholics might have hoped they could travel to the Holy See for Lent 2021. Alas, that pilgrimage is reserved for the brave and well-heeled this year. Good thing the Vatican Museums (museivaticani.va) preview several historical, artistic and spiritual treasures that make the world’s smallest city among the most significant to both the Catholic faithful and art aficionados.
The website has a searchable online catalog and multimedia presentations. To give you the best virtual experience of 14 beautiful halls, it provides 360-degree-views of them. That includes the Room of the Chiaroscuri, whose images play with light and dark; the Pio Clementino Museum, showcasing antiquities from pontifical collections; and, thankfully, Michelangelo’s glorious Sistine Chapel.
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