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How To Take a Virtual Tour of SF’s Top Museums

Take a virtual stroll through 11 Bay Area museums and historical sites
By - posted 3/30/2020 No Comment

April is here and we’re still sheltering-in-place and running out of things to do. Had enough of Netflix binge and you know you ought to have a temporary social media detox from Facebook and Instagram.

In these strange times, art gives us color, happiness and hope, reminding us that there is a rainbow always after the rain.

Every month Funcheap has a list of the best free museum days in the Bay Area, but that’s moot (for now). So instead, now seems like a great time to awake the inner artist in you, try something new and educational, transport yourself virtually inside one of SF’s best museums and take a tour.

So take a deep breath and take a virtual stroll with SF’s finest Museums:

Bay Area Museum Virtual Tours & Online Content

California Historical Society

Virtual Tour – Enjoy an online archive of digitized primary sources from the CHS Collection. It is comprises a diverse body of materials documenting the history of California, including 50,000 volumes of books and pamphlets, 4,000 manuscript collections, 500,000 photographs, Printed ephemera, periodicals, posters, broadsides, maps, and newspapers, The Kemble Collection on Western Printing and Publishing, 5,000 works of art, including paintings, drawings, and lithographs; and artifacts and costumes.

  • Explore their collections and online exhibits via Google Arts and Culture click here.


Browse their growing online collection of hands-on exhibits.

  • Global Climate Change Explorer – Discover how researchers study climate change and examine the latest scientific data.
  • Low-cost, teacher-tested activities for the classroom and the curious.
  • Science of Water: Food   Explore water’s crucial role in food and cooking.
  • Wired Pier Environmental Field Station – Explore weather, air quality, and water conditions from San Francisco Bay
  • Learning Toolbox: Engage in activities about the science of coronavirus and explore our online resources for learning at home.

California Academy of Sciences

Virtual Tour – Renowned scientific and educational institution dedicated to exploring, explaining, and sustaining life on Earth. 

  • Take a Virtual Tour via Google Arts and Culture click here.


While not offering any true “virtual” tours at the moment, the SFMOMA has lots of content available online videos and articles including highlighting featured artists.

Asian Art Museum

An expansive collection of online photos and descriptions of over 13,000 objects in their collection include collection highlights, masterpieces and recent acquisitions.

Contemporary Jewish Museum

Virtual Tour – Explore page for deep cuts about art, Jewish history, pop culture, and more. According to their Facebook Page they will be rolling out new content series in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more educational resources, DIY/crafting projects, archived gallery chats, and more.

  • Explore their collections and online exhibits via Google Arts and Culture click here.

de Young Museum

Virtual Tour – A wide array of collections encompassing American art; art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; and costume and textile arts that reflect an active conversation among cultures, perspectives, and time periods.

  • Explore their online exhibits and take a Virtual Tour via Google Arts and Culture click here.

Legion of Honor

Virtual Tour – The museums wide array of collections offer unique insights into the art historical, political, and social movements of the previous 4,000 years of human history. Holdings include European paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts; ancient art from the Mediterranean basin; and one of the largest repositories of works of art on paper in the nation.

  • Explore their collections and take a Virtual Tour via Google Arts and Culture click here.

Oakland Museum of California

Virtual Tour – OMCA brings together its multi-disciplinary collections of art, history, and natural science with first-person accounts and often untold narratives of California. A leading cultural institution of the Bay Area and a resource for the research and understanding of California’s dynamic cultural and environmental heritage for visitors from the region, the state, and around the world.

  • Explore their online exhibits via Google Arts and Culture click here.
  • If you’re looking for more books and other great resources, check out Oakland Public Library. You can even apply for a library card online.

El Museo Mexicano / The Mexican Museum

The soul and spirit of the arts and cultures of Mexico and the Americas are fundamentally and inextricably linked.  The museum has a spectacular collection that is unique in the nation, including Pre-Hispanic, Colonial, Popular, Modern and Contemporary Mexican and Latino, and Chicano Art.

As we look forward to their new home in the heart of San Francisco and while we stay at home for weeks you might as well enjoy some of the virtual tours they have shared :

Alcatraz Island

Virtual Tour – Take a closer look at the site of the first lighthouse and US built fort on the West Coast, the infamous federal penitentiary long off-limits to the public, and the 18 month occupation by Indians of All Tribes which saved the tribes.

  • Explore Alcatraz’s complex history and natural beauty via Google Arts and Culture click here.

Find more great virtual content of museums and art at Google Arts and Culture and other great ideas on SF Curbed.