The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts may be closed but the art is still on display

The museum is offering free virtual visits of four exhibits until Jan. 11.

The museum is offering free virtual visits of 4 exhibits until Jan. 11

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has released virtual tours of four exhibitions available to the public until Jan. 11. (MMFA)

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is closed due to COVID-19 red zone restrictions, but there's still a way for art lovers to explore four of its exhibitions.

Until Jan. 11, anyone can visit the museum virtually and free of charge in a "choose-your-own-adventure" style tour.

"I think all of us in the museum, we just felt really sad that we could not welcome our public in the way that we are used to doing. And we wanted to make our exhibitions accessible during the pandemic," said Mary-Dailey Desmarais, director of the curatorial division at the museum.

"It allows visitors the chance to interact with these exhibits and enjoy them even though they can't go to the museum," she told CBC's All in a Weekend.

Organized like a Google Street View, the halls of the museum open into different rooms, allowing people to pop into various exhibitions, including the recently closed "Paris in the Days of Post-Impressionism: Signac and the Indépendants."

The museum says this is its holiday gift to art lovers.

Visitors can virtually explore the 4 exhibits and listen to audio guides. (MMFA)

Desmarais said it's also a chance for people to get much closer than they are usually allowed to the art on display.

"You can zoom up very closely to the works to the point where, if you were actually in the museum, you would have guards telling you to move back," she said. "You can actually get that close on your computer."

Of course, the experience of viewing the art online isn't quite the same but the accompanying audio guides and multimedia clips help add an educational element to the tour.

The other three exhibits available on the museum's site are "Yehouda Chaki: Mi Makir – A Search for the Missing," "Manuel Mathieu: Survivance" and "Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures."

The Riopelle exhibit explores the artist's interest in the North and Indigenous cultures, with nearly 160 works and more than 150 artifacts and archival documents.

"Visitors will come away with a much deeper understanding of the kinds of sources that inspired Riopelle," said Desmarais.

Listen to the full interview on All in a Weekend:

Visit the virtual museum tour here.

With files from All in a Weekend

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