By Emily Chang
There are many enriching virtual activities to engage in from the comfort of your own home. From art to collaborative games and many things in between, online offerings have become prominent in recent times, making entertainment accessible with the click of a mouse.
For example, you can visit the iconic French art museum, the Louvre, without traveling over 5,000 miles to Paris. The official Louvre Museum website has a page dedicated to virtual tours that each highlight a specific gallery, or “Petite Galerie,” at https://www.louvre.fr/en/online-tours. Clicking on one of the listed tours will take you to a main virtual room for that gallery, where you can freely scroll around and move to different parts of the exhibit via the menu at the bottom left corner. There are highlighted circles in front of the art pieces, sculptures, artifacts and informational posters that you can click on to get a closer look. The galleries’ focuses range from Renaissance artists to the portrayal of myths in various art forms.
The United States Botanical Garden (USBG) also has a virtual tour feature. They partnered with Google Street View to put together a comprehensive “street view” of the garden. You have the freedom to click and move around in any direction and explore the gardens at your leisure. The images for this tour do not have the highest resolution. However, the video tours, available on the same website page, link to the USBG YouTube channel, which offers higher quality visuals, verbal descriptions of specific exhibits and other fun, informational videos.
If you are looking for a more collaborative activity, you might check out a virtual escape room. Enchambered.com hosts several online escape rooms that you can do by yourself or with a friend. While some of them cost money, the “Alone Together” two player puzzle is completely free and is an excellent way to stimulate your mind and strengthen your interpersonal connections. This website is just one suggestion; you can also explore many other sites that have free virtual escape rooms in a variety of different formats.
After the visual engagement of perusing through a museum and botanical garden, and the intellectual challenge of solving an escape room, you might want to switch gears and attend a virtual concert. Many artists are still doing online concerts, and artists who perform live will often livestream the concert. Billboard.com has a list of livestreams and virtual concerts that began in 2021 and is still being updated, featuring pop and mainstream performers (https://www.billboard.com/music/pop/coronavirus-quarantine-music-events-online-streams-9335531/). There are also sites like songkick.com that list smaller artists across a wide variety of genres, most of which are free.
Virtual experiences are quite different than the “real” thing, with pros and cons, but they certainly open up many opportunities to experience cultures, places and people you may not have been able to otherwise. While we are all waiting for the pandemic to be a thing of the past, why not explore an enriching virtual activity to stay safe and entertained?