A look at virtual tourism and online exhibits at The Louvre

A screenshot of Guercino’s “Circe” as seen in the Louvre online gallery: "Founding Myths: From Hercules to Darth Vader". (Provided by Kaila Gallacher)

One of many things this pandemic has taken away from us is the ability to go to live art shows, museums, and galleries. Luckily, many of these institutions have set up online galleries and virtual tours. While virtual tours are not new, they are a fantastic way to spend some time enjoying artwork. 

Though it is true that an online tour is not the same as visiting in-person, they still provide virtual tourists with a special experience, such as the online exhibit offered by the Louvre. Among the many choices from the Louvre available to be toured online, Founding Myths: From Hercules to Darth Vader is the one that called to me the most. 

(Screenshot provided by Kaila Gallacher)

Virtually touring the Founding Myths exhibit was an interesting experience — one that, while initially felt disconnecting, ended up allowing for a real connection with the art. Yet,it is easy to see why people may feel a virtual tour is a poor substitute for the real thing. To a degree, it is. 

You remain behind a screen, further removed from the art than you would be if you were there in person. Though, when looking at Guercino’s “Circe” set against the sapphire blue of the walls in this exhibit, that sense of removal all but vanishes. 

There is something about Circe, the powerful enchantress from Greek mythology, that enchants you even on screen. This painting gives you pause. The electric hue behind the painting highlights the blue of her dress, which gives the illusion of her reaching out through the screen. While this painting portrays a bygone era, to me, it appears to reflect our world today. 

(Screenshot provided by Kaila Gallacher)

Circe herself is isolated, captured within the confines of this painting, with little more than a book to keep her company. It mirrors our reality in some way as we are all trapped in our homes left with our hobbies. 

Touring through this virtual exhibit you will see not only Circe, but other figures from Founding Myths. You will see the great heroes of mythology, like Hercules, as well as the monsters from the pagan mythology. This is an exhibit that is sure to fascinate anyone interested in this side of history. 

Virtual tours are accessible to everyone with access to the internet, especially benefiting those who are not always able to withstand long days walking through a gallery due to poor health. In the Founding Myths tour, like many others, you set the pace of your virtual tour. It can all be done from the comfort of your own home where you can control your environment, which can enable a deeper connection to the art. 

Despite some awkward angles that cannot always be fixed on screen, you have an unobstructed view of the paintings or sculptures, which is something exceptionally rare in a museum — especially that of the Louvre.

(Screenshot provided by Kaila Gallacher)

And, while an online tour cannot entirely replace wandering through an exhibit, it offers tourists a different type of experience from that of the kind one would find in a museum or gallery. They are a great way to participate in something new, allowing you to forget about the world for a moment. It is an experience that, refreshingly, does not involve Netflix.

Nearly everything we love to do — going to shows, going to museums, going out with friends, going out for dinner, or going to art galleries — have been put on hold for a year. However,  virtual tours may help alleviate that sense of isolation, at least for a little while.

About the Author

By Kaila Gallacher

Former Editor

Kaila is a poet and writer in her fourth year at York, studying Creative Writing and the Humanities. She is Editor-in-Chief of the Artichoke, a student-run magazine out of Winter’s College. She is passionate about highlighting the arts community here at York and in Toronto as a whole. She is particularly interested in how art can be a mode of expression and how it can inspire personal, social, and political change. When Kaila's not reading, writing, or editing she is an avid hiker and photographer.


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I never considered doing any kind of virtual tour – I think I may give it a shot! Thanks for the fabulous idea! 🙂