Due to the temporary closure of museums and institutions throughout the Boston area, WFPL is not able to offer museum passes at this time. Updated April 14, 2020
Visiting Museums from Home
It’s easy to feel like we are missing out on exploring our area’s wealth of art, music, and community while the library’s museum pass program is temporarily unavailable. But luckily, cultural institutions worldwide have provided an unprecedented amount of virtual access in response to COVID-19 closures.
Many of our local institutions have also followed suit in allowing digital access to galleries, concerts, science panels, and so much more. Plus, we now have the ability to explore places we’d never be able to get to on a local day pass! Here are some of our favorite places to explore while staying safe at home.
Local virtual access
Local virtual access within WFPL’s museum pass offerings:
- Boston Children’s Museum: Take yourself on a virtual tour of all three floors of the museum.
- Boston Harbor Islands: Check out the Harbor Islands’ at-home Junior Ranger program for kids and families.
- Discovery Museum: Take a look at these resources for at-home learning, scientific exploration, and play.
- Harvard Art Museums: Peruse the museum’s online collection search and find a new favorite artist.
- Harvard Museum of Natural History: Test yourself on your science knowledge with some of these online interactive exhibits.
- Institute of Contemporary Art: In need of a fun craft? Look no further than the ICA’s at-home Art Lab activities.
- Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: Take part in a virtual tour of some of the collection, including the 13 Stolen Works in 1990.
- JFK Library and Museum: Check out the interactive history timeline, including options for children through a free app.
- Museum of Fine Arts: Peruse exhibition tours, artist interviews, online exhibitions, and so much more.
- Museum of Science: Mark your calendars and get your questions ready for daily livestream content from scientists, and make sure to explore the archived video of past events and presentations.
- New England Aquarium: Dive in to some daily animal presentations.
- Orchard House: How many times have you watched the new Little Women? $10 gets your 48-hour access to a virtual tour and bonus content about Orchard House.
- Peabody Essex Museum: Enjoy the virtual collection and check out some fun activities to do at home.
- Trustees Reservation: Explore the incredible virtual catalog of activities, from gardening advice to activities for families, to a virtual community fire pit every Friday night at 6:45!
- USS Constitution Museum: Set sail from your living room for a live virtual tour of the ship every day at 1pm.
- Zoo New England (Stone and Franklin Park): Put on your safari hats for daily activities at 1:30pm on Facebook, ranging from live videos to activities you can do at home.
Local virtual offerings outside of museum pass program:
Music & Theatre
- Boston Symphony Orchestra’s "At Home" series: Explore a wealth of archived performances, “behind the scenes” videos, and educational material.
- WCRB “Encore” broadcasts: Tune in to pre-recorded BSO performances from Symphony Hall every night at 8pm, Monday through Saturday.
- North End Music and Performing Arts Center: You can either register to perform in a free, live open mic night or tune in and enjoy the music on Friday nights.
- Brattle Theatre: Turn your living room into a movie theatre, and check out the wealth of Virtual Programs that the Brattle is offering.
- Coolidge Corner Theatre: Pop that popcorn, dust off your film theory books, and tune in to the Coolidge’s Virtual Screening Room.
- Museum of African American History: Check out some digital exhibits and video presentations.
- Massachusetts State House: Admire architecture and history on a virtual tour of all three floors of the State House.
- Armenian Museum: Check out the museum’s virtual collection, from coins to ceramics to illuminated manuscripts all online.
- Museum of Bad Art: For a much-needed laugh, peruse the cringe-inducing collection of Somerville’s own Museum of Bad Art.
- Yiddish Book Center: Browse through an extensive collection of digital Yiddish books, archival recordings, Yiddish audiobooks, oral histories, and children’s literature.
Worldwide Virtual Access
Check out famous art institutions:
- Explore the breathtaking art and architecture of Russia’s Hermitage Museum (an impressive 5-hour video tour condensed into just around 30 minutes) or the Sistine Chapel.
- Peruse the online collection of the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, or the Frida Kahlo highlights at the Detroit Institute of the Arts.
- Take a closer look at Van Gogh’s “Almond Blossom” at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
- For a complete list of art museums you can virtually tour, check out Google Arts & Culture’s partnered museum list.
Enrich yourself with some science:
- Take a free, virtual tour of current, permanent, and past exhibits at the one and only Smithsonian Museum.
- Explore NASA! Take a free virtual tour of the Langley Research Center in Virginia or the Glenn Research Center in Ohio.
- Take an astronomy “field trip”- explore space and learn about constellations with Stellarium.
Explore the world from the comfort of your couch:
- Using Google Earth, you can see incredible sights like the Great Wall of China, the Great Pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, or for everyone who loved the Kedi documentary- Cat Island in Japan!
- Using Google Street View, you can still go on that cancelled trip, or explore an unknown city. Try playing a game where you type in the airport you would have landed in, and navigate to your hotel by moving up and down various streets. What do you find along your way?
Need a little music?
- The Met Opera streams a production every night at 7:30, and you can still access the videos 20 hours after.
- Discover your new favorite performer with this comprehensive list of festival, concert, and performance live streams.
If you’re missing the great outdoors, check out some of these virtual adventures. You can even set up a camping tent in your living room!
- Yellowstone National Park is offering virtual tours of some of their main attractions.
- The Nature Conservancy is hosting a few 45-minute long field trips! Explore coral reefs, learn about renewable energy, and take in the sights and sounds of Borneo’s rainforest.
Tune in to some live videos at zoos across the country:
- Learn how to relax and unwind from the pros with the Panda Cam from the Atlanta Zoo.
- Watch penguins dive and swim with the Penguin Cam from the San Diego Zoo.
- Check in on gorillas, elephants, or giraffes at the Houston Zoo.
- Watch beluga whales swim on by with the Beluga Cam from the Georgia Aquarium.
- Where’s…. Wellington? Check out this adorable penguin exploring exhibits and making some new friends at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.