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You can explore faraway museums from your sofa. Here’s how to get started

Glitchy-looking photo of women in art museum.
Museum visits are on hold because of COVID-19, but you can still experience them with virtual tours.
(Derick McKinney / Unsplash; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

By Rachel Schnalzer
Design and illustrations by Jade Cuevas

Good morning, fellow stay-at-home adventurers. I’m back with another edition of virtual travel opportunities as COVID-19 continues to affect Southern California.

It’s unclear when we’ll be able to spend an afternoon at the Getty or the Broad, let alone when it’ll be safe to hop on a plane and visit museums in other countries. So I put together a few favorite virtual museum experiences you can enjoy from the comfort of your sofa.

Do you have a favorite virtual travel experience you’d like to share? Let me know — I’d love to include it in a future edition of Escapes.

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🎨 Wander the Dalí Museum in Spain

Much like Salvador Dalí himself, the Dalí Theatre and Museum in Figueres, the artist’s Catalonian hometown, is surreal. And though you can’t hop on a plane to Spain right now, you can walk through the museum’s halls and galleries on your laptop.

Museum design always sticks with me — sometimes more so than the art itself. That’s why I was particularly struck by the Dalí Theatre and Museum. Even in a virtual exploration, I was stunned by its open-air courtyard flanked by gold figures.

As you wander the museum’s galleries, click on the circles next to the art. These add illuminating context to each piece just as the plaques do that accompany paintings in real-life museums.

Illustration of Salvador Dalí's "The Persistence of Memory" featuring laptops in lieu of the clocks originally in the piece.
Get up close with some of Salvador Dalí's works by taking a quick trip on your laptop to the Dalí Theatre and Museum in Spain.
(Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

🦖 Go on a dinosaur dig in Wyoming

Ever wonder what it’s like to be part of a dinosaur dig? Good news: You can experience it virtually alongside scientists from the Natural History Museum in London.

In 2019, the museum’s scientists traveled to Wyoming to search for dinosaur bones. Now, you can read and scroll through their findings on the museum’s site. I was surprised to see how low tech dino-hunting can be — and how much Wyoming’s weather affected their work.

Illustration of dinosaur walking through mountains and sunshine and an illustrated map of Wyoming.
The Natural History Museum in London can take you hunting for dinosaur bones in Wyoming.
(Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

⛪ Marvel at the Vatican

Life during lockdown can be spartan, so why not take a spin through the Vatican, one of the most opulent places on Earth.

The Vatican’s website allows virtual visitors to walk through its elaborate and colorful rooms — and thank goodness it’s a 360-degree tour, because the ceilings are a marvel. You’re able to see ultra-famous areas such as the Sistine Chapel as well as the Chapel of Urban VIII and other lesser-known places.

View of Sistine Chapel.
Get a virtual view of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Museum’s official website, museivaticani.va
(Screengrab from www.museivaticani.va)

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📫 Send a postcard

Tired of spending time on your computer? Get a taste of the museum experience with this art postcard set by Going Postal Gallery. According to its website, the company was founded by “two art lovers that have shared a decade long friendship along with a predilection for snail mail and a general appetite for nostalgia during the pandemic.”

For $25, you’ll receive five postcards of artwork in the gallery’s Divine Delirium exhibition. If this price seems a bit steep, know that all profits from the postcard sales will be donated to the Art of Elysium, a community arts-focused charity. Hat tip to Jade Cuevas, our designer, for this recommendation.

Illustration of hand holding set of cards of famous artworks.
Have the art museum come to you with a set of postcards from Going Postal Gallery.
(Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

📰 What I’m reading


  • Wondering what’s open and closed in Southern California under the state’s latest COVID-19 rules? As always, Times assistant travel editor Mary Forgione and travel writer Christopher Reynolds have you covered.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration is cracking down on unruly airline passengers in the wake of the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, the Associated Press reports.
  • Pea Soup Andersen’s, a famed California road stop in Buellton, is for sale. Katie Dowd explains the restaurant’s history and significance in SFGATE.
  • The “witch-kitsch culture” in Germany’s Harz Mountains is alive and well. Immerse yourself in it by reading an excerpt from Kristen J. Sollée’s book “Witch Hunt” in Atlas Obscura.
  • What role do souvenirs play in cultural appropriation? Megan Spurrel explores this question in Condé Nast Traveler.

Pea Soup Andersen's pea soup with tiny illustrated "For Sale" sign
Pea Soup Andersen’s is for sale. Katie Dowd does a deep dive into the famous California establishment.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

📸 Photo of the week

A man looks at the Neon Museum in Las Vegas.
Travel writer Christopher Reynolds snapped this photo of the Neon Museum in Las Vegas in December 2019.
(Christopher Reynolds )

🎸 Road song


“Drivers License,” a new song from Olivia Rodrigo, has been shattering streaming records. So how could I not include it as our road song of the week? It’s sad, so on your next drive be ready to shed a tear or two for the one that got away.

Photo of a town's street with lyrics from Olivia Rodrigo's "Drivers License" displayed on the road.
Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License will bring out the angsty teen you may still have deep inside you on your next drive — embrace it!
(Zachary Edmundson / Unsplash; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)


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