Starting around the beginning of the 17th century, scions of wealthy families began making the ‘Grand Tour’, a sort of finishing school for the elite. These young men explored Roman ruins, attended art exhibitions, and immersed themselves in French and Italian culture. When they returned home their impact on artistic taste and aesthetics was profound. With greater infrastructure, like railways, the middle class could sometimes enjoy this European tradition as well, but the poor were not afforded this luxury…until now.  Technology has brought the tour to the people.
Major museums around the world have been meticulously scanning and photographing their entire collections and making them available to the public. This includes the massive collection of art objects that are not on display, which means that your digital tour can be more extensive than a physical visit. Ancient tomes are being scanned in their entirety for free viewing. Collections housed in areas of political or social upheaval are still available despite travels bans. Curators, historians, connoisseurs (people who attribute works to an artist), and conservationists who work directly with the objects post their research along with the images.
While this availability and access has broad implications for the art world, the technology also means that students and educators outside the arts can use these resources across the curriculum. History, literature, chemistry, biology, anatomy, sociology, archeology, and engineering are large components in art-making and the study of art objects makes physical what is otherwise understood as abstract theory. Most museums categorize their collection by region and chronology so searching for objects is easy. There are even virtual tours that go through the galleries as if you were actually there. With world culture and tradition at our fingertips, how will our own change?
Further Readings & Resources
 Gross, Matt. "What is the Grand Tour?" The New York Times. May 14, 2008. Accessed February 22, 2017. https://frugaltraveler.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/14/what-is-the-grand-tour/?_r=0.
Today's post comes to us from the wonderful Crystal Helt. Crystal is an art and art history teacher at Pike High School. A graduate of Ball State University and Azusa Pacific University with degrees in Art Education specializing in Drawing and Modern Art History and Criticism, she can be found on twitter @heltarthistory, at a local art museum, or with her nose in an art history book.