September 16, 2020
At Fordham, we’re lucky enough to be located in the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. For many students, being at Fordham means taking trips to Manhattan by subway, the Metro-North or the infamous Ram Van. This fall, Fordham Rams are scattered across the globe. But no matter where you may be, you can still take a trip to some of New York City’s greatest sites, albeit virtually.
Before my 10 a.m. sociology class, I decided to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) from my home in Connecticut. This was different from any previous visits I had made to the MET. For one thing, I wasn’t completely focused on analyzing the formal features of a painting or sculpture for an art history paper. For another, I wasn’t waiting to catch the Bx12 and the 4 train on a brisk Saturday morning. In just a few clicks, I arrived at my destination.
Upon (virtual) arrival, the museum seemed eerily still without visitors pondering the exhibits, sitting on the benches and admiring the art. Through Google Arts and Culture, I was able to navigate through several featured exhibits. One way visitors can view artwork is through a virtual tour of the piece. I viewed Pieter Bruegel’s “Harvesters” in extreme detail, with every mouse stroke zooming in on the brushstrokes and details of the people depicted. It featured quotes from curators, explaining the historical significance of the work and its relevance in the present day.
Scrolling down on the page, I clicked on “Explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” This opened up a map of the museum in preselected exhibits. The map featured artwork that we could click on, transporting you to the exhibit where the artwork is housed. I clicked on “The Fortune Teller” and found myself staring at a painting with an ornate frame depicting five figures all facing the viewer. I perused the entire room’s paintings all with the click of a button.
For those who love fashion, there is a huge exhibit of Christian Dior’s ball gowns and Coco Chanel’s modernism. While I am not within the Google Maps exhibition, I do have the opportunity to scroll through different fashion pieces. A positive of not visiting in-person is not having to squint to see the description of each piece. The exhibit comes to life with each scroll whenever I zoom into an important part of the clothing, and I get a great historical background on its significance. So, in Chanel’s “Ensemble” (1927), I get the carefree sense of the Roaring ’20s through the lines of the carefully hand-sewn skirt right through my computer screen.
The MET is not the only New York City museum offering this kind of online exhibit. The Frick Collection offers a similar experience. For those who love old architecture and the grandeur of an ornate museum in New York City, this museum is for you. I have never been to The Frick Collection in person, but seeing it virtually makes me even more excited to visit it in person when it reopens to the public. The Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art also allow visitors to peruse their online exhibits in a similar fashion, showing off the most distinct pieces.
While visiting online museums isn’t quite the same as going in person, I think it’s definitely worth planning a virtual visit with friends. That way, you can get part of the New York City experience even in quarantine.