Few Austinites are out and about these days as businesses, schools, and public institutions close to comply with the city and county’s stay-at-home order, adopted to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
But just because you are stuck inside it doesn’t mean you can’t still take in a bit of local culture. Thanks to the power of technology, a number of Austin-area museums and other institutions are providing remote programming with free access to exhibitions, media collections, and even virtual tours—all from the (relative) comfort of your couch.
A great place to start is Google’s Arts & Culture platform. Here you can browse the Blanton Museum of Art and see works from classical Baroque masterpieces to the avant-garde and modern. Check out campaign artifacts and historic images from the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park, and learn about local street art and graffiti in an online exhibit from the South Austin Popular Culture Center.
In addition, the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum now offers live curator chats and yoga in the garden. Contemporary Austin recently launched The Contemporary From Home, where you can stream performances and lectures, art-making activities, and explorations of individual works of art.
Several other Austin institutions provide access to exclusive collections, resources, or activities on their own websites—including the Bullock Texas State History Museum. The Thinkery is posting videos of kid-friendly storytelling, craft projects, and experiments to try at home. The Austin Public Library is physically closed, but you can use your card to access ebooks, audiobooks, online classes, and help with homework.
And if staying indoors already has you pining for Austin’s famous public open spaces, website YouVisit offers 360-degree virtual vistas showcasing some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, parks, bridges, and hiking trails. Although closed, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a useful resource for online gardening tips if you want to attempt some DIY improvements in your own backyard.
The virus canceled South by Southwest, but Visit Austin features a fantastic rundown of local music live-streams and rebroadcasts, and Austin City Limits has opened large swaths of its archive for your on-demand viewing pleasure. Meanwhile, the Austin Symphony Orchestra is offering a chance to enjoy a handful of past performances online.
If film is one of your preferred art forms, please see our list of local indie theaters now streaming select films through a special film-streaming service. You can also find more info on viewing SXSW 2020 films for free on Amazon Prime.
Remember that there’s no reason to limit yourself to just local institutions. Use your stay-at-home time as an opportunity to take a virtual trip to the Smithsonian and the best (albeit temporarily closed) museums and cultural attractions in cities like New York, Chicago, and Boston.