Over the past few weeks, you may have noticed a certain panicked update in language flooding your inbox. It represents a broader cultural shift, one that artists, art-world professionals and appreciators alike are struggling to adapt to as we speak:

The virtual gallery tour.

Gallery tours and events are a staple of the art world, defining social scenes in a “see and be seen” environment where, oftentimes, networking comes first and is followed atmospherically by the art in question. 

What does it mean for the art world that our social interactions will now be “limited” to digital conference calls, where the goal shifts from handshake tallies and business card transactions but a more pointed pursuit of knowledge and interest? Will the power of the social scene lose its clout as importance shifts from social standing to vocal analysis?

That’s something we’ll be exploring later in our personal journal. In the meantime, what we can tell you is this: we’ve figured out the perfect formula for experiencing the gallery tour just like you would any other day of the week, back in the days when you could stroll down the packed streets of Chelsea without a care in the world. Only this time, you’ll get the inside scoop from… inside your own home. 

1 Do some research before the tour.

I’m sure you would do this anyway, even if you were attending a show in-person, but do some light research before attending an online gallery walk. Having some baseline knowledge of the artists included in the show along with the gallery’s programming will make your experience richer – and help you pay attention. 

2. Plan out your gallery hop schedule for the evening.

If you really want to feel like you’re getting the full gallery hop experience, book multiple gallery tours back-to-back. Start signing up for email lists so you’re always up to date with the newest exhibitions, artist talks, and panel discussions. Make note of when your favorite curator is going live on Instagram so you can tune in. 

3. Invite your friends to join you.

No one really goes gallery hopping solo, right? Just as you would on any normal night of gallery touring, invite your friends to join you for the virtual tour. Put together your own video conference call afterwards to chat about what you’ve seen and have a nice, low-stakes cultural discussion. 

4. Write down any questions you may have.

One of the distinct joys of attending gallery walks with seasoned professionals and art-world insiders is the unmatched access to insight and knowledge they have about the artists, the artist’s processes and other curatorial insights. Just because you’re viewing the show from afar doesn’t mean you have to be a passive observer! Keep a notepad and a pen near you while the tour is going on, and make sure they send the questions to the expert either in the chat option on the video or via email after the tour is over. 

5. Pour yourself a glass of wine.

An obviously glaring downside of socially-distant gallery hopping is that there’s no free wine. While on a normal evening of gallery hopping you can’t choose the vintage (or the intensity of the inevitable hangover soon to follow), the advantage of socially distant gallery attendance is not having to worry about how many glasses you’ll pour. You also won’t have to worry about wearing pants. 

The virtual gallery tour is our new reality as an industry – at least, for now. Interested in keeping up with the latest contemporary gallery tours? We recommend signing up for ArtMuse’s newsletter. 

Happy gallery hopping!