New Yorkers are spending more time at home than likely ever before, as the novel coronavirus pandemic has led to limits on how many people can gather in one place at any given time, and the widespread closure of the city’s myriad cultural institutions.
But many of those institutions—museums, parks, performing arts centers, libraries, and more—have risen to the challenge, providing virtual access to their buildings and collections. In a challenging time, these virtual experiences offer New Yorkers many ways to stay entertained and connected to the city’s plethora of incredible cultural offerings.
Below, find a list of what’s available from various online platforms, museums, and more.
Several New York City museums can be experienced via Google’s Arts & Culture platform, including the Met, the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Cooper Hewitt. In addition to providing a glimpse at those museums’ collections, the platform also lets you explore their buildings—so if you’ve never visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s nautilus-inspired Guggenheim building, now’s the time to do so (virtually).
Some museums also have virtual tours or exhibitions on their websites, including the Frick, the Museum of the City of New York, the Whitney Museum, the New-York Historical Society, the New York Public Library, The New York Transit Museum, and the Tenement Museum.
In a partnership with the New York Latino Film Festival, each week El Museo del Barrio will feature shorts, films, and documentaries from the fest on its website. The American Museum of Natural History is sharing previously recorded tours via its Facebook and Twitter accounts. History buffs can listen to more than 350 oral histories from New Yorkers on the Coney Island History Project’s website in addition to exploring their online collections.
Many city museums have also shared items from their collections using the hashtag #MuseumAtHome and #MuseumMomentofZen on Twitter—both are good to follow if you need a moment of levity in the middle of a stressful time.
Though New York City’s library branches are closed, many of the services that they provide—including access to e-books, research materials, and more—are available digitally. See what’s available via the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and the Queens Public Library.
Many city parks remain open, but one of the most popular outdoor spots—the High Line—has closed for now. But you can still go on a virtual tour of the elevated park through Google Arts & Culture.
Looking for some activities in honor of Earth Day? The Museum of the City of New York has a bevy of resources for young environmentalists. A video explains the day’s origins and features readings of two ecologically themed picture books. For a jaunt in the outdoors without physically going outside, the New York City Parks Department offers virtual tours of some of its flagship green spaces, including Central Park and the Staten Island Greenbelt. The Parks@Home webpage also offers an array of digital content including live broadcasts from park rangers, of how-tos for up-cycled art projects, and of meditation sessions.
At the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Sakura Matsuri, or cherry blossom festival, has been an annual tradition since 1982. The garden was forced to cancel this year’s festival, but it’s still possible to admire the blossoms from afar: virtual tours will be available on its Instagram and Facebook pages.
And the Natural Areas Conservancy has a nifty online map that charts the more than 20,000 acres of the city’s natural areas—forests, freshwater wetlands, salt marshes, and streams—if you’re hankering for some outdoor exploration.
The New York Landmarks Conservancy has a video series called “Tourist In Your Own Town,” which takes viewers on tours of historic landmarks (including President Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace and the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum).
The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has launched Seneca Village Unearthed, an online exhibit and collection of artifacts from what was once New York City’s largest community of free African-American landowners. The exhibit offers access to nearly 300 artifacts for a glimpse of what life was like for Seneca villagers in the mid-19th century.
Urban Archive is another resource chock full of digital resources to explore in partnership with 40 museums, cultural organizations, and government agencies. The archive offers a seemingly endless collection of curated historic images and their histories. For instance, as part of the #NewYorkfromHome campaign, the Municipal Arts Society and Urban Archive create two digital tours: Epidemic, New York in 1918, and Hospitals through History.
The 92nd Street Y has also made videos from its archives available to watch at home, and will livestream some of its planned concerts.
In the first in a series of online shows created for the Pace Gallery, the digital exhibit Saul Steinberg: Imagined Interiors brings together drawings, collages, and photographs by New York-based cartoonist and illustrator Saul Steinberg. The show explores interior spaces as sites for introspection and creativity, and will be on view online until April 6.