Art Appreciation 101

How to Enjoy Art from the Comfort of Your Home

The Family of Robert Gordon by Seymour Joseph Guy
Seymour Joseph Guy, The Contest for the Bouquet: The Family of Robert Gordon in Their New-York Dining Room (1866). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Photo via metmuseum.org (Public Domain)

I always preach that art is best viewed in person, but I understand that this isn’t always possible. Due to finances, scheduling, geography, or many other factors, it might not be easy for you to enjoy artwork up close. So, here are some alternatives. Like the in-person suggestions I made in my last post, all of these art-viewing experiences are 100% free.

  • the-athenaeum.org contains (at the time of writing) over 250,000 images of artwork from all around the world. It’s possible to sort by artist, medium, subject, and several other criteria.
  • Google Arts & Culture has partnered with major museums and other cultural institutions around the world to offer images, museum walkthroughs, and other educational features. You can sort, explore, and even create your own virtual collection. There’s also an app.
  • ArtUK is a massive project aiming to catalogue all the artwork in the entire United Kingdom. At the time of writing, it includes over 200,000 paintings freely viewable online. According to the website, many of the works live in museum storage, which means that ArtUK is the only place the public can see them.
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art online collection database offers high-resolution photos of its impressive and encyclopedic holdings. The website also includes useful materials such as the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History and free access to selected museum publications.
  • Daily Art is an app that delivers a work of art and short, informative text to your iPhone or iPad every day. Daily Art also has DailyArt Magazine with even more artwork and information.
  • Websites like Hyperallergic and Colossal seek out fun and exciting works of art in diverse media and from all corners of the globe. You’ll find stuff there you would never get to see otherwise.
  • Museums and galleries often curate virtual exhibitions to accompany physical ones. Poke around these institutions’ websites or follow them on social media to find out when new ones are coming out.
  • Lots of Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts give you a constant stream of art on your newsfeed. There are far too many to list here, so search based on your interests. Accounts run by museums, galleries, auction houses, artists, and art-related websites are good places to start.
  • Museum exhibition catalogues and coffee table books usually contain large, good-quality photographs of art and architecture. Many are available at your local library. I particularly enjoy coffee table books about architecture; they are both plentiful and comprehensive.

Did I miss anything? If so, feel free to let me know in the comments.

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