Let Culture Calm You

Virtual Arts and Culture Experiences to ease your quarantine

Andrew Recinos
Mar 15 · 13 min read
Josep Molina Secall on Unsplash

The updated version of this post, and all of the links, can now be found on my company’s website:

As arts and culture organizations around the world are shutting their doors due to COVID-19, some are providing opportunities for the public to experience their craft remotely.

The goal in putting together this collection is simple: as humans around the world engage in social distancing, arts and culture can help shorten that distance, lift up our spirits, and bring joy to our homes.

With your help, I will continue to update this post as I know about more. If you have suggestions, put them in the comments, or find me on Twitter .


Alex Ross The Rest is Noise Blog

As musical organizations shut down regular activity because of the coronavirius pandemic, a number of groups will offering video streams of concerts without audience. Here is a selection.

Coloring Pages from Great Museums

A compellingly democratic initiative on the part of the New York Academy of Medicine. Since 2016, the Academy has made an annual practice of inviting other libraries, archives, and cultural institutions around the world to upload PDF coloring pages based on their collections for the public’s free download. This year 113 institutions took the bait.

Forbes: The World’s Biggest Online Museum Collections

As more employers force self quarantine and schools shut down, you can work fine art into your day by exploring myriad world-class online collections.

Italian Museums to visit online

Vacations and dreams have all been put on hold for the time being, but luckily there are some ways to keep experiencing Italy even if you cannot explore in person. There is so much beauty in the world, even if we have to hit pause on seeing it directly in front of us — that is why I put together this list of the best Italian museums you can explore virtually.

Live Music Project Seattle

At this time, we are listing Live-streamed events taking place anywhere in the world and In-person events taking place in the Puget Sound, Washington area *only*

National Park Virtual Tours

Good news! You don’t actually have to leave your couch to see some of America’s most glorious landscapes. Powered by Google Earth, a whole bunch of parks offer free virtual tours.

Queer Lorgnette

Many shows and concerts are canceled, opera houses are quarantined, artists lose income and opportunities. And many of us, who have ticekts for shows, perhaps all over the world, cannot travel, find empty boxes (see above) or are confined indoors due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Here’s some streams to watch meanwhile! (not comprehensive, but updated whenever I see something new. Feel free to add events in the comments!)

Some venues have started to offer streams — either because the artists are already in town and rehearse anyway (and get paid this way, if the concert takes place!). Personally, I wouldn’t mind paying for streams or rehearsal gimmicks if it means artists and hosues get some pay thay. Most streams listed below are free (if not, they are marked). Their timeframes of availability may differ and, in some cases, geoblocking may apply.

Social Distancing Festival

This is a site for celebrating work that has been cancelled/delayed/disrupted, or to showcase work that’s being done by the many artists who suddenly have extra time for creation, and may be spending a bunch of time alone at home. Submissions have been including clips from rehearsals, recordings from previous workshops, design plans, and performers just doing the song they were really excited about singing into their webcam. It doesn’t need to be anything formal or polished!

Streaming Theater

Nothing can replace live theater. But while we find our way through this time of theatrical shutdowns, there are options for viewing work from the stage…from your living room. I’m not talking here about movie adaptations. I’m talking about shows that were actually staged on stage and transported via cameras to your home. Or, at least, stayed true to the theater script even if played without an audience. Here’s a rundown of streaming options on where to find shot-from-the-stage gems.

Virtual Museum Resources

In the blink of an eye, once-crowded museums sit empty. We’re preparing ourselves for social distancing and potential quarantine. This is the time for museum technology to step up and fill the void. The potential of online collections, virtual tours, and social media campaigns have always been there, but now the opportunity for impact is incalculable.

Access to endless open content. Educational resources for e-learning. Virtual retreats to art, culture, and history around the globe. This is the museum technology community’s time to shine!

This list will be continually updated with examples of museum and museum-adjacent virtual awesomeness. It is by no means exhaustive.

WQXR Must See Concerts to Stream

Must-see concerts don’t exist in the immediate future. There are only can-see concerts, and from the safety of your computer screen.

With institutions on hiatus, audiences have an influence in maintaining a framework that allows these artists to return to action as soon as all of this is over. On YouTube or Facebook, don’t hesitate to register your likes, thanks, and gratitude — it can matter — and perhaps think twice about asking to be refunded for cancelled concerts.

Individual Organizations

92Y, New York, NY

92Y@Home: During this time, we are exploring innovative and creative ways to keep you, our community, engaged and connected. Our programming teams are working on many more initiatives to help you stay connected to the 92Y community during this uncertain time. In the meantime, please remember that you can access our Archives page, which contains hundreds of recordings of 92Y talks, readings, concerts and educational programs.

Alley Theatre, Houston, TX

We were very disappointed to have to close our production of 1984. Our staff and actors spent months preparing the show for you, and we know you were all looking forward to seeing this production come to life on the stage. Good news! For a limited time, you will be able to watch the production in your own home.

Because of our commitment to you, we are taping a performance and will be sending a password protected link to current ticket holders and those who’d like to purchase the opportunity to view 1984. (More information to come about purchasing).

Center for Puppetry Arts

We are expanding our Digital Learning platform to include live streaming and it’s all for FREE. Now you can enjoy curriculum-based workshops and Digital Learning interactive puppet shows from the safety and comfort of home. All you need is an internet connection to join us in our Zoom room. We’ll make it easy, we promise!

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati, OH

As we come together as a community during these challenging times, we invite you to share strength and comfort through music. Stream past concerts on CSO in Concert and American Soundscapes or listen to playlists inspired by our seasons on your favorite streaming platform.

The Cleveland Orchestra

Two Cleveland Orchestra radio broadcasts are available for anytime on-demand listening through radio station WCLV’s website. These concert broadcasts follow from regular broadcasts, but can be listened to according to your own time schedule. In general, each concert is available for a two-week period. With special thanks to the members of The Cleveland Orchestra for permitting this service to music lovers worldwide.

Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Detroit, MI

LIVE FROM ORCHESTRA HALL. Welcome to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s home for online performances, featuring hundreds of on-demand works available any time, night or day. Please consider a donation today to support the DSO.

Kennedy Center, Washington, DC

Mo Willems invites YOU into his studio every day for his LUNCH DOODLE. Learners worldwide can draw, doodle and explore new ways of writing by visiting Mo’s studio virtually once a day for the next few weeks. Grab some paper and pencils, pens, or crayons and join Mo to explore ways of writing and making together.

New episodes will be posted each weekday at 1:00 p.m. ET and then remain online to be streamed afterwards. Check back each weekday for new LUNCH DOODLES!

La MaMa, New York, NY

La MaMa is exploring ways to respond creatively to a situation that is potentially changing how we gather as a community in our theatres. La MaMa is working with CultureHub to provide online streaming of select productions and events on Howlround Theatre Commons.

Malmö Opera

WE CONTINUE SINGING If you cannot come to us, we may come to you! Every weekday at noon, we have so far a performance of some kind. We also recorded Saturday’s All Song at the Opera with Rickard Söderberg and guests.

Watch whenever you want and let the music spread joy!

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne, Australia

We invite you to join us on the MSO YouTube channel to enjoy a free live stream of our performance of Scheherazade. We are working to live stream additional performances over coming weeks and we look forward to performing for you digitally.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

In this digital digest, we’re bringing you a selection of The Met’s many videos, articles, and online resources. In the programs we’re sharing today, you’ll learn about contemporary painters like Gerhard Richter and medieval jousting practices. You’ll discover art-making activities for the whole family and watch concerts by musicians from around the world. And you’ll find everything from cutting-edge 360-degree videos to downloadable catalogues from past exhibitions.

The Metropolitan Opera, New York, NY

Each night for the duration of the closure, starting Monday, March 16, the Met will stream encore presentations from the award-winning Live in HD series of cinema transmissions on the company website for free. Learn more here.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterrey, CA

Be delighted by the antics of our sea otters or mellow out to the hypnotic drifting of our jellies. With ten live cams to choose from, you can experience the wonder of the ocean no matter where you are.

Philadelphia Orchestra, Philadelphia, PA

Experience the Philadelphia Orchestra On Demand.

Seattle Symphony, Seattle, WA

As our community comes together in this time of crisis, the Seattle Symphony will continue sharing performances that provide strength, comfort and joy. The musicians of the Seattle Symphony have generously volunteered to share free broadcasts with everyone during this time of uncertainty. All broadcasts can be streamed through the Symphony’s social media channels on YouTube and Facebook.

Smithsonian Learning Lab

Support deep, meaningful learning with an online universe of authentic resources and tools for making them your own.

The Tech Interactive, San Jose, CA

Visit The Tech Interactive online with this Virtual Field Trip featuring scientists in fun fields across Silicon Valley. Stay tuned for more resources you can do with the kids at home.

Tasmania Symphony Orchestra, Tasmania, Australia

Despite a pause in concerts open to the public, the TSO will continue to rehearse and perform during the period and will upload content digitally to YouTube in a new series, the TSO ‘Daily Dose’ — a regular stream of 100% free TSO content including full concert performances, Q&A, behind the scenes footage and profiles of our musicians and team. All ticket buyers, supporters and friends — indeed, all Tasmanians — are invited to keep up to date with the orchestra’s activities at TSO Daily Dose. More information will be released shortly, including links to where you can view or listen.

Music demands an audience and all of us take pleasure and comfort from music. The TSO values its audience dearly and looks forward to maintaining and, indeed, building that audience online through TSO Daily Dose.

UMS at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

In light of Hélène Grimaud’s canceled performance due to COVID-19 restrictions, we’ve put together a playlist of her exact concert recital program, featuring music from her latest album, Memory, and 2009 recording of Schumann’s Kreisleriana. While listening on your preferred streaming service, you can enjoy our full program notes.

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver, BC

Due to the unprecedented events of this past week we have had to get creative with the finale to this week’s BeethovenFest. Maestro Tausk and the musicians of the VSO are very pleased to present you with a “Virtual Finale” performance via digital livestream.

Vienna State Opera

Despite being closed for public performances, the Wiener Staatsoper has resolved to open up its streaming service to provide audiences with daily opera. Starting on Sunday, March 15, 2020, the company will start to stream operas from its archives for free. The online program is set to follow along with the same opera that audiences would have seen had they attended the theater, with some exceptions.

Andrew Recinos

Written by

Fellow Human. World Traveler. Husband. Dad. Son. Culturephile. @andrewrecinos

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