This blog post is a part of the Collection/Connections series by Susanna Cordner, Senior Research Fellow: Archives. In the series, Susanna is sharing her recommendations for the different sites and resources available to you online that will keep you connected to collections during lockdown.
In this post, I will offer you my round-up of some of the virtual exhibitions you can access online now. Some of these recommendations will be for digital records of past physical exhibitions while others will be for exhibitions that were created specifically to be displayed and disseminated online. Some of those featured have walk-through virtual spaces, others provide images and videos, while others still are curated collections of digital records and images. This is in no way a comprehensive list (I could have kept going!), but I hope it gets you started and helps you hunt out some interesting exhibitions to visit online.
In future posts, I’ll be recommending you some digital collections and other resources and projects provided by museums and galleries right now. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy some of the below.
When lockdown began, the National Gallery Victoria in Melbourne had to close their new exhibition Collecting Comme. To give more people the chance to see it – albeit it virtually – they have launched a virtual tour that allows you to effectively walk through the full exhibition. The exhibition showcases collector Takamasa Takahash’s collection of Comme des Garcons garments alongside designs by other iconic Japanese designers including Junya Watanabe and Tao Kurihara. As well as allowing you to look at and appreciate these pieces in your own right, the exhibition also considers the role of the collector and wearer in fashion.
The blockbuster exhibition Dior: Designer of Dreams went on display at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 2017. A re-curated and expanded version of the exhibition then went on display at the V&A in 2019. Dior have released a documentary-turned-virtual-tour of the exhibition online that allows you to see the exhibition and learn about and hear about the research, preparation and curatorial process behind it.
The Fashion Space Gallery, located at LCF’s John Prince’s Street site, keep a digital record of all the exhibitions on their programme and their surrounding projects and residencies on their website.
One of my favourite contemporary collections, the Museum of Broken Relationships, based in Zagreb, is a global open-source project that invites people to donate items that relate to their lost loves or past relationships. These items vary from items of clothing to obscure exhibits – feathers, jigsaw pieces, postcards – that held personal meaning in a particular relationship. On their website, they have a highlights gallery with digital records of items from their collection and an interactive map where people have documented where in the world their break-up took place.
Another brilliant modern museum. Elsewhere on their site you can watch home footage from their collections and explore preservation projects and public submissions. The link I’ve included will take you through to a virtual exhibition series by Bill Osgerby on a brief history of young people in Britain.
The Prada Foundation provide a written record of all their current and past displays and projects, each paired with images of the gallery in question, and finished with a short film that tells you about and walks you through the exhibition.
I’ve given Google Arts & Culture a section of its own because it’s such an encyclopaedic giant that I recommend having a hunt through it on your own. Trying searching particular terms, places or institutions you’re interested in on their site. They have collaborated, creating virtual tours and digital exhibitions, with museums, brands and arts institutions across the world. To get you start, here are some links to particular highlights I recommend –
Musee d’Orsay in Paris.
Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
The Faces of Frida, collaborative project between 33 collections.
Salvatore Ferragamo: Famous Feet of Hollywood, Salvatore Ferragamo Foundation.
Balenciaga: Master Craftsman, V&A Museum.
The Craftmanship of Alexander McQueen, British Fashion Council.
Oh and LCF are on Google Arts & Culture, too – our featured stories include a series called ‘Fashion Makes Style’ and some highlight galleries of objects from our Archives
Virtual Tours of Museums, Galleries and Heritage Sites
Take a virtual tour of the Brighton Museums & Pavilion. Seek out inspiration from the extravagance and eccentricity of the Pavilion’s interiors – pineapple tree pillars, anyone? – through to the displays of decorative arts and dress objects available at the Museum.
Click through, zoom in or pan round the images they provide of particular rooms and highlights from their sites and galleries.
Since the Gallery temporarily closed in 2018 for major refurbished, the Courtauld have provided a virtual tour of all their galleries online. The photography featured is so detailed that you can zoom in to see the brushstrokes on individual artworks.
Whether you’re looking for a sense of escape or if you find seeing design in context, relating to the way real people have lived, inspiring, you might find these virtual tours of National Trust properties and gardens inspiring. For a sight of something created under an artistic influence, or maybe to zoom in on a flower in bloom, I recommend Sissinghurst Castle and Garden, where Vita Sackville-West and her husband lived and were often visited by members of the Bloomsbury Group in the early 20th century.
Here is an overview of some of the other properties they manage.