If you’ve in quarantine and have begun to feel the unpleasant effects of art withdrawal, virtual art repositories are here to help you. These websites contain vast numbers of art images from different collections around the world – all gathered together and highly searchable. They allow you to spend days travelling the world through art without even getting out of bed. Here are ten of the biggest and best virtual art repositories currently in existence.
Art UK is a British project that aims to catalog all the artworks in public art collections throughout the United Kingdom. It currently lists about a quarter of a million artworks. You can sort by artist, subject, collection, and more, thanks to a volunteer-driven tagging project.
Bridgeman Images is a company that sells the publication rights on photographs of fine artworks. Fortunately, there’s no charge to simply browse the more than three million available images.
My European friends have been raving about Europeana‘s greatness for a long time. It has over 50 million images relating to European arts and culture, including many artworks great and small.
Google Arts & Culture
Google Arts & Culture is the mother of all virtual art repositories. You can pretty much see and do anything there, including virtually visit hundreds of museum and monuments. Be sure to check out the 360 degree videos.
Gallica is the Bibliothèque Nationale de France’s virtual repository. It has over six million images online, including many works of visual art. These include the Bibliothèque’s major collection of medieval illuminated manuscripts, alongside many gorgeous prints and illustrated books from later eras. If you like Gallica’s manuscript collection, you may also like the Bibliothèque Nationale and British Library’s joint repository France Angleterre 700-1200 Manuscrits Médiévaux.
Paris Musées is a consortium of fourteen Parisian art museums, and its virtual art repository contains over 350,000 images from these collections. Although Paris Musées doesn’t include the famous Louvre or Musée d’Orsay, this website includes many spectacular artworks in all media from around the world. There are also some fun videos (in French).
PHAROS: The International Consortium of Photo Archives is a virtual repository of art archives from fourteen European and North American museums. It contains centuries of art history images, including some pretty cool, old-fashioned black-and-white ones. It’s likely that a lot of artworks represented in these old images don’t appear anywhere else online. Pharos has a cool feature where you can upload a photo and find out if the artwork it depicts occurs in any of these archives.
Public Art Archive
The Public Art Archive is a fun and quirky virtual art repository of public art projects in the United States. You can search by artist, collection, medium, and more. Nobody could possibly visit all of these projects in a lifetime, so it’s nice to be able to experience them here. You can also browse artworks by location to find public art near you to visit once quarantine is over.
Watercolour World archives documentary watercolors painted before the twentieth century. You can browse by artist or location depicted. Watercolour World bills itself as a place to see how the world was depicted before photographs. Right now, however, it’s more simply a precious way to see the world in any form.
Web Gallery of Art
The web page that hosts Web Gallery of Art may look antiquated, but don’t bypass it for that reason. This virtual art repository includes countless images of European art from the 3rd to 19th centuries. You can browse them by artist. While the images aren’t super high resolution, they look pretty good in the handy full screen mode. You can also view different artworks side-by-side for comparison.
If you still can’t get enough artwork during quarantine, you can also virtually visit all these museums!
Here’s a full list of our “Lockdown” home entertainment articles. Stay safe and #Stayhome!