Beam into culture class from your couch with virtual art and history tours from 6 local institutions

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Photo courtesy of the Crocker Art Museum
Charles Reiffel, "Spring," circa 1941. This painting can be viewed through the Crocker Art Museum's online gallery.

With many local museums doing their part to flatten the curve by closing to the public, gone are the days of hours-long wanders through our arts centers, at least for now—Gov. Gavin Newsom said California's stay-at-home directive could last through June. But being homebound doesn't mean our artistic masterpieces are completely out of reach—Sacramento arts centers are coming up with creative digital solutions by posting online exhibitions, video tours and more. Here’s your guide to getting virtually cultured.

Anytime Tours
Learn more about the historic River City on The Center for Sacramento History's Anytime Tours app or website, which launched in 2018. The virtual guided tours are around 45 minutes, and for every stop there’s a short video hosted by docents dressed up like Gold Rush pioneers. They'll let you in on the old Eureka Bath House’s shocking connection to Newfoundland dogs and tell you about how James McClatchy, newspaper mogul and founder of the 163-year-old, recently acquired McClatchy Company, first became interested in journalism.

The Center for Sacramento History's Anytime Tours will spill secrets about the city's historic roots. (Screenshot from Sactown Magazine)

California State Capitol Museum
Did you know that the interior of the State Capitol’s dome was intentionally built with gold adornments to reflect light into the main building? Or that there are more than 153 different varieties of roses in the Capitol Park World Peace Rose Garden? You'll find tidbits like these on the California Capitol Museum's website, which has six tours that dive deep into the Capitol’s history. Definitely check out the virtual guide through the park, in which you’ll learn that former Gov. Hiram Johnson received the help of schoolchildren in 1914 to create a section of native flora, and that the trees in Memorial Grove were originally tagged with the names of the Civil War battlefields they came from.

California State Archives
For the quarantined nature enthusiast jonesing for some time outdoors, the California State Archives’ exhibit on California state parks might be a good fix. After all, it includes original sepia-toned photos of giant sequoias in Yosemite and tells stories of the early environmental activists who helped turn the rugged land into the nation’s first state park (in 1890, it became the third national park in the country). For the political news junkie, click on the gallery titled “Campaigns, Inc.,” which chronicles the influence of the little-known titular ad company behind the past political crusades of such Golden State office seekers as democrat Upton Sinclair (author of The Jungle), who relied heavily upon its muckraking promotional materials.

In partnership with Google Arts & Culture, The Crocker Art Museum's digital galleries explore painterly details up close. (Screenshot from Sactown Magazine)

Crocker Art Museum
The docent-led tours at the Crocker are on hold for now, but luckily you can pull up the museum’s Arts & Culture page on Google, which features more than 80 artworks and three curated exhibits designed to emulate the in-person experience you would otherwise have on-site. In the digital galleries, explore the painterly details of classical canvases, like impressionist William Posey Silva’s Park Sacramento, and be sure to stay tuned into the museum's site and social media channels—it plans to release a lineup of virtual tours and exhibits on its website within the next month.

California State Library
Take a 360-degree video tour of the California State Library, located at 914 Capitol Mall. Throughout the three-and-a-half-minute video, you will hear backstories about its various spaces, like why there’s a courtroom on the first floor, as well as details about the late-1920s pièce de résistance emblazoned in Gillis Hall, a 69-foot-long mural by Maynard Dixon, considered one of the foremost artists to document the American West. Additionally, brush up on your 17-syllable poetry with the library's virtual exhibit on Japanese haikus. and

The California Automobile Museum
The fast and furious among us can subscribe to the California Automobile Museum's new Patreon account ($4; $10 for VIP) to watch brand-new video content, including revved-up looks at the cars within the museum’s permanent collection and visiting exhibitions. For example, go behind the scenes of automobile cinema in the Reel Cars exhibit, where you can practically get behind the wheel of the Shelby Cobra replica used in the recent Oscar-winning movie Ford v. Ferrari.

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