During this period of isolation, my sister and I have been taking virtual trips together. Every day one of us picks a destination, then we get on our phones and chat while we “stroll” through an art museum, national park, or hall of fame. It’s very enjoyable, because we don’t have to worry about moving aside for other viewers, and we can talk as loud as we want!
My favorite one so far has been the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, because of how well the tour is organized. I have done about 20 different virtual tours at this point, and this one stands out as having the most intuitive system for accessing the different layers of information. You can move through the galleries as in Google Street View. About half the paintings have little blue talk bubbles in the corner, which signifies that more information is available. Click on the talk bubble, and a larger version of the painting pops up with the info card. Click on the magnifying glass in the middle, and an even larger version pops up.
While she and I have been hitting a variety of attractions, I thought that here I would share some of the great textile-related tours I have found.
A lovely discovery for me was the Palazzo Madama in Turin, Italy. I have been to Italy several times but I had never heard of this fabulous palace and its collections. Their Google Arts and Culture page has 20 exhibitions, about half of which are focused on fashion. This one, The Restoration of the Banyan, shows the details of conserving a man’s dressing gown from the mid-1700s. And if you scroll all the way down on their page, you can find the virtual tours. I recommend this one, and don’t forget to look up at the ceilings!
The virtual tour of The National Museum of Costume in Portugal leads you through cases of European fashion, organized chronologically. And to see some similar fashions in great detail, you can visit the FIDM online exhibit Fabulous! Empire Period, 1800-1830.
Moving beyond just European fashion, the exhibit How to Make a Varanasi Brocade amazed me – that in this industrial age, some silk sari fabrics are still handwoven, with skilled weavers laying in delicate motifs of metallic thread by hand. This is a slide show with video clips interspersed, and close to the end is a longer video spotlighting the many specialized artisans necessary to produce one piece of brocade cloth.
And the most heart-warming and inspiring exhibition of all, the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange of 2018:
The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange project sees the Commonwealth Fashion Council and Eco Age come together, along with Google Arts and Culture, to champion sustainable fashion practices.
The centerpiece of the project brings together 29 artisans and fashion designers across all 53 Commonwealth nations to partner up and create a collection of 30 sustainably-produced, handcrafted fashion pieces. The designs represent the cultures, identities and creatives skills of each nation.
This is more than an online tour, this is a wealth of traditional handcrafts and materials, blended with detailed design. You may not think the finished garments are something you (or anybody) would actually wear, but if you look at the details, you will find beauty and inspiration. There are 27 videos, 52 stories, 3 online exhibitions, and a virtual tour of Buckingham Palace to explore.
So I hope this helps you deal with staying home. If you have any more good virtual visits, or you have done a similar post, please leave links in the comments! 🙂