Closed? Never. Enjoy Boston’s Museums, Music, and More Online

Visit the Gardner, hear the BSO perform—all without leaving the house.


Photo by Alex Lau

Whether the snow is keeping you indoors or you just don’t want to change out of pajamas, here are some ways to enjoy Boston’s arts and culture scene from the comfort of your own home.

Explore the Gardner Museum

Last spring, Google Art Project debuted its Street View-style tour of Boston’s beloved Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. That means even when the physical museum is closed, you can still “walk around” the galleries and courtyard. Click on various works for info about them. Plus, check out oldies-but-goodies in the Gardner’s online music library and podcasts.

Virtual Tour | Music

Listen to the BSO

Drown out the sound of snow plows with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Visit the BSO’s Media Center online, click on “Broadcast,” and then choose from an abundance of full-length performances from Symphony Hall and Tanglewood. There’s plenty to choose from here, including the 2014 Holiday Pops, special guests like Yo-Yo Ma, and more. It’s the next best thing to listening live at Symphony Hall.

Listen to the Boston Philharmonic

Like the BSO, the Boston Phil has plenty of its previous work recorded online. On their website, you’ll find healthy doses from masters like Beethoven and Mahler to stream via SoundCloud.

Tour the USS Constitution

Old Ironsides will be dry-docked soon for three years of repairs and restoration, but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit her right now from your desk at home. Google Maps teamed up with the Navy and photographed the entire ship last fall, and recently published its virtual tour. You can now explore four decks, cannons and all, Street View-style.

Get Schooled with the Museum of Science

Those videos you don’t always finish watching at the MOS? Make up for it from home. The museum’s website has plenty of educational videos, from brief “This is how it works”-style clips to longer STEM education videos. Digital exhibits include “Energized! Exploring Renewable Energy” and “Oceans Alive!” among others.

Visit the Harvard Art Museums

Since reopening after a major renovation, the Harvard Art Museums have quickly re-established themselves as one of the top museums to visit in the area. You can digitally tour a few “hotspots” at H.A.M., but the hidden gem available right now is the digital tour of Mark Rothko’s Harvard murals. At the museum, you have to be there right at 4 p.m. to see the special lights turned off—showing the difference between the paintings after decades of fading, versus the restored view with MIT-developed lighting software. Online, just click and drag the slider tool.