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Digital comfort: In the face of the coronavirus crisis many attractions around the world are promoting a virtual experience

Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, photo by Václav Pluhař

Since the coronavirus crisis began there is one thing at least on which the world can agree: these extraordinary times are driving digitalisation forward in many areas of life. It also applies to tourist attractions, especially to cultural establishments. Be they museums, theatres or opera houses, many institutions are now focusing on digital content, making use of this period of closure and providing comfort to all the millions currently confined within their own four walls, who are unable to visit these global destinations and their attractions. As well as cultural institutions, attractions such as zoos and safari parks have also found a way to make use of this period during which visits cannot take place.

The cultural sector is showing itself to be extremely creative. In Vienna, for instance, the Museum of Art History is offering 3D tours with VR goggles that let visitors admire works from the Middle Ages and a collection of treasures from Egypt. New York’s Guggenheim Museum is attracting online visitors with articles by professional writers and videos about its exhibitions. It also has podcasts about the history of the museum. The Musée d’Orsay in Paris is hosting virtual tours and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is offering Google Street View tours. Indeed, Google is playing an important part in the digitalisation of cultural attractions. The internet giant’s web application provides wide-ranging access to works and virtual tours of a multitude of museums and exhibitions – including high-resolution images of artworks such as Van Gogh’s Starry Night, which is housed in the New York Museum of Modern Art.

Nor must culture enthusiasts go entirely without music these days. Internet users can now enjoy online content from the Sydney Opera – besides streaming full-length stage performances the opera house has exclusive interviews as well as valuable and previously unseen archive material in store for its visitors. Virtual concerts are also featured on the websites of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. The Opéra de Monte-Carlo is presenting individual works on its YouTube channel. Arte, a pan-European TV channel and useful source for anyone longing for cultural entertainment, is airing numerous stage performances on Arte Concert. They include classical works such as Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio and the rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The programme targets much younger audiences too, who can watch famous DJs under the slogan ‘United we Stream’.

Digital innovation is also on display on the websites of the world’s leisure attractions. Here too, there are some interesting examples of real-life excitement to some extent finding its way on to the internet. Disney World is currently heavily promoting its Virtual Disney World on YouTube, where viewers can take breakneck virtual rollercoaster rides as well as tours of various sections of the theme park. For those who miss wildlife parks, the website of Phoenix Zoo in Arizona features a Digital Safari presentation – along with live videos, blogs, lots of images and talks by experts.

There are virtual attractions for city break enthusiasts too, for example at www.traeumdichnachsachsen.de/ or #discovergermanyfromhome by the German National Tourism Board (DZT).

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