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Spending Lent at home? Take these online tours of the world’s greatest museums


Sam Amil | Flickr CC BY 2.0

V. M. Traverso - published on 03/19/20

An impressive collection of Catholic art is now accessible for free thanks to digital collections.

From New York to Rome, cities across the world are shutting down restaurants, cinemas and museums in an effort to control the coronavirus pandemic. The good news for the many of us social distancing at home is that many cultural institutions are responding to such an unprecedented crisis by opening their collections to the digital world. Here is a list of religious artworks that Catholics can visit, for free, from the comfort of their homes. 

Metropolitan Museum, New York

The Met opened some 375,000 images to the public back in 2017 as part of its Open Access Initiative. Catholic viewers will particularly appreciate its collection of Renaissance-era Madonnas, from the richly detailed work of Crivelli to the harmonious portrait of Madonna and the child by Filippino Lippi. The Met’s stunning collection of golden crucifixes should also not be missed. From the delicate brush of Fra Angelico to the pathos and naturalism of Lorenzetti, there are enough works of art to fill up an afternoon break. 

Filippino Lippi’s Madonna and The Child (1483-1484)
Filippino Lippi | The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 | Public Domain

Filippino Lippi’s Madonna and The Child (1483-1484)

Uffizi Gallery, Florence

The famous Uffizi Gallery in Florence, designed by Giorgio Vasari by order of Cosmo De Medici in 1560, has opened its doors to online visitors thanks to a collaboration with Google Arts and Culture. From Late Middle Ages Master Giotto, with his Ognissanti Madonna golden panel, to the exquisite finesse of Raphael’s Madonna of the Goldfinch, passing through world-famous classics such as Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus or Caravaggio’s Bacchus, there are plenty of masterpieces to fill a spare hour of quarantine. The great user experience of this digital catalogue makes online visits all the more pleasant. 

Raffaello Sanzio’s Madonna of The Goldfinch (1505-1506)
Public Domain

Raffaello Sanzio’s Madonna of The Goldfinch (1505-1506)

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. 

Washington D.C. is known for its impressive collection of museums that are mostly free to the public. During this epidemic, Catholics can continue to enjoy the works of the National Gallery of Art from the comfort of their home. From Renaissance Master Antonello Da Messina’s Madonna with the Child to Turner’s vivid portrait of Venice’s churches and canals and Panini’s stunning depiction of the interior of the Pantheon’s church in Rome, there is plenty to see and learn from. 

Antonello Da Messina’s Madonna With The Child (1475)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection

Antonello Da Messina’s Madonna With The Child (1475)

Musée d’Orsay, Paris

This Parisian landmark has also collaborated with Google Arts and Culture to open up parts of its vast collection to digital visitors. It takes one click to visit the famous self-portrait of Vincent Van Gogh or Paul Cézanne’s signature work, the Cardplayer. Of special interest for Catholics are the evocative depiction of Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral by Neo-Impressionist Maximilien Luce and the moving depiction of Hell completed by Willaim-Adolphe Bouguerau in his “Dante and Virgilius.” in which he depicts two damned souls fighting, a scene from Dante Alighieri’s Catholic masterpiece “The Divine Comedy.”

Maximilien Luce’s The Quai Saint-Michel and Notre-Dame (1901)
Maximilien Luce | Public Domain

Maximilien Luce’s The Quai Saint-Michel and Notre-Dame (1901)

National Gallery, London

Few other museums have digitized such an impressive collection of Catholic masterpieces as the National Gallery in London. From Leonardo’s Virgin of the Rocks, to Raphael’s Madonna of the Pinks, passing through Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus, the impressive high quality of these digital images makes it a true online delight. 

Leonardo Da Vinci | Public Domain

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Virgin Of the Rocks (1483-1486)

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