Europe’s Great Galleries: A Virtual Tour

A 10-week course: 13th January - 24th March 2023. 11.00-12.45 GMT


Join us for our new 10-week online course and enjoy a virtual tour of some of Europe’s greatest art collections. Our unique, interactive classes combine LECTURES by art historian and National Gallery lecturer Siân Walters with LIVESTREAM BROADCASTED TOURS of museums around the world, guided by expert art historians, archaeologists and guides.

We have secured some exclusive openings and museum visits including the world’s first ever livestream tour of the Doria Pamphilj Gallery in Rome, home to masterpieces by Bernini, Caravaggio, Titian and Velázquez, as well as a live broadcast from the much-anticipated exhibition, Vittore Carpaccio: Master Storyteller of Renaissance Venice.


All lectures and museum broadcasts are live and interactive, allowing you to ask questions.  Siân and all her expert colleagues are known for their informative but informal approach, combining erudite commentary with an entertaining and approachable delivery.  The lessons, streamed on Zoom Webinar, will enable you to gain special access to museums and galleries whilst at the same time providing a wonderful opportunity to travel virtually from home. Our visits will also support both galleries and individuals working in the cultural sector and a percentage of the course price is reserved for supporting other cultural institutions in need of assistance.


Each week we will explore a different gallery or museum.

We have arranged exclusive, live access to a number of museums in Europe. Our course includes a unique visit to the Doria Pamphilj Gallery in Rome where we have been granted a special privilege, allowing us to broadcast the world’s first livestream guided tour from the gallery.  This magnificent palace is still privately owned by the same princely family who amassed its priceless collection of paintings, statues and furniture over a period of 500 years. Our live tour will be led by art historian Grace Barbieri who will explore in depth the history of this magnificent collection, showing us highlights such as Caravaggio’s Penitent Magdalene and Rest on the Flight into Egypt, Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X Pamphilj and Bernini’s bust of the same sitter.

We are privileged to have been given special permission to film an exclusive, live broadcast from the Doge’s Palace in Venice, where we will enjoy an expert guided tour of the much-anticipated exhibition, Vittore Carpaccio: Master Storyteller of Renaissance Venice.  The exhibition tour will be led by Dr Luisella Romeo whose authoritative commentary and expert camerawork will allow you to gain an exclusive insight into the paintings and drawings of this great Venetian master, enabling you to zoom in on the exquisite details of the pageants, processions, structures and costumes of his narrative scenes.

We will visit the National Archaeological Museum of Naples where we enjoy two livestream guided tours, led by the well-known archaeologist Dr Raffaele Romano. Our visits will focus on the section of the collection dedicated to excavations at the Villa Madama and the Palatine Hill, and the exquisite mosaics discovered at Pompeii and Herculaneum. Our tour will end with a discussion of everyday life in ancient Rome, focussing on beautifully preserved objects such as cups, glasses and medical instruments.  (Please note for those who attended our Italian Grand Tour course in 2022, our Archaeological Museum visit this term will cover a different area of the collection). 

There will also be a specially arranged broadcast from the National Gallery of Slovenia, a lesser-known but exquisite fine art collection in Ljubljana spanning a wide period, from medieval sacred sculpture to Biedermeier portraits and Impressionist painting. It contains works by renowned Slovenian and European artists, including Vigée Le Brun, Ivana Kobilca and Anton Ažbe. The tour will be led by a museum curator.


Art History in Focus director Siân Walters has been a lecturer at the National Gallery in London for over 20 years and so our first session will be dedicated to exploring some of its best-loved paintings and also discussing what goes on behind the scenes in the conservation, framing, art handling and scientific departments.

The Museo Nacional del Prado boasts the world’s greatest collection of Velázquez, not to mention the many galleries dedicated to masterpieces by Zurbarán, Murillo, El Greco and Goya. We discover how the collection in Madrid was shaped by the personal tastes of the royal family, and concentrate in particular on works of the Golden Age of Spanish Art. We make a virtual visit to the beautiful Groeningemuseum in Bruges for a 360 degree virtual tour, combining panoramic photos of the gallery rooms with high resolution images in order to study its extraordinary collection of Flemish masterpieces by van Eyck, van der Weyden and Hans Memling to name a few. There will be a virtual guided tour of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna which houses one of the greatest collections of Old Masters in the world. It is particularly rich in works by Bruegel and has more paintings by Giorgione than any other gallery. We will also study works by van Eyck, Rubens, Titian, Rembrandt and many others. There will also be a session dedicated to Amsterdam’s majestic Rijksmuseum, home to Rembrandt’s Night Watch, Vermeer’s Milkmaid and the Serenade by Judith Leyster, to name a few.

Our final session is devoted to the National Museum Wales which has an exceptional art collection including masterpieces by Botticelli, Pompeo Batoni and Zoffany as well as Welsh artists such as Richard Wilson. It also contains one of Europe’s finest collections of Impressionist paintings which were left to the museum by Margaret and Gwendoline Davies, grand-daughters of the wealthy industrialist David Davies. Their bequest includes exceptional works such as La Parisienne by Renoir and examples from Monet’s Rouen Cathedral and Water Lilies series.


Live streamed sessions are on Friday mornings and run from 11.00am – 12.45 (UK time). There is no session on 17th February (half-term). The cost includes museum entrance fees and donations.

Tune in from anywhere in the world or enjoy a recorded version if you cannot watch live. A link to the recording will be sent soon after the end of the session if you cannot attend, enabling you to watch on catch up after the session any time until Monday at midnight (UK time). Please note that recordings are only available to those who miss a live session.

You are welcome to join the course at any point however, please note that you will only be able to see the recording from the previous session if you join after the course start date.

A full course outline and reading list will be emailed to all attendees approximately one week before the first session. Students also receive an informal weekly newsletter with news, reading suggestions, recipes and website links.

Our guided tours use the most up-to-date technology to provide you with the best possible virtual experience. You will feel as though you are exploring the museums yourself with the running commentary given by our guides, with the possibility of admiring details of the artworks in high resolution as we move around the rooms.

There will be no crossover with any previous courses or livestream visits – all the sessions are new so they can be enjoyed by those who have followed our other online courses as well as newcomers who are always most welcome!

Please refer to the Further Information panel below for booking details.


Here are just a few comments following recent similar courses:

“Your lectures have been fascinating, your guest guides have shown us so many wonderful places and the interpretation has been excellent. Thank you so much for giving us armchairs travellers such a memorable experience.”

“I wanted to let you how much I’ve enjoyed these lectures.  You and your guest lecturers have exceeded all expectations.  Your knowledge, technical skills and presentation all combine to keep me enthralled every Friday morning – Bravo!”

“Thank you for such a wonderful course. Every week’s lectures and visits have been a delight .. and have made Friday mornings the highlight of the week. I shall be signing up for the next and look forward enormously to more Friday mornings of bliss!”

“I absolutely love your courses Sian! I am learning so much about art, history and the world .. but above all it is your unique style that is so enchanting and keeps me coming back for more! As an expert in your subject you have great knowledge but also the gift of making your lectures accessible to a wide range of participants through your wonderful use of language and lovely sense of fun. Thank you!”

“The format works really well and the lectures are excellent … it feels really special to be allowed to be in the galleries and churches live. This is the first we have done with Art History in Focus but it won’t be the last!”

“ I wanted to thank you very much for such a great educational course. I attended classes through the recording as I am an Australian resident and found this such a game changer for me. It gave me the possibility to participate in class even though broadcast from London. You and your expert lecturers imparted such a wealth of knowledge and I loved the virtual tours.”

“Thank you again, Siân, for arranging these lovely sessions which we look forward to all week….”

“Your course is splendid – the combination of lectures and virtual walks/visits works brilliantly….”

“I just want to thank you for a really wonderful Italian Grand Tour – I’ve enjoyed every moment and have learned so much from you and your colleagues. The lectures and virtual tours in real time feel very inclusive and there is a lovely sense of the shared experience…Thank you for everything – this course has been a real delight.”

“Your absolutely brilliant lectures have been a real highlight of this year. I cannot thank you or praise them enough”.


Art History in Focus is proud to have initiated the concept of online tours in many major European museums and historic sites. We are delighted to have developed these collaborations which continue to raise important funds for the galleries and cultural sites as well as those working in the cultural sector.

Photo – Palazzo Doria Pamphilj – Aldobrandini Room © Konstantinos Papaioannou Dreamstime

Further Information


1. BOOK.

Click on the gold “Book This Course/Event” button on the right hand side now, fill in the online booking form and pay online. You will be notified automatically by email once your booking has been accepted.

Please ensure you enter your email address correctly, as your Zoom link will be sent to this address, thank you.

The participation fee is £150 per person, if making bookings for a number of people please provide their email addresses when booking them as separate participants. The fee includes “virtual visit” fees to sites visited as well as donations to cultural institutions in need of support.


Download ZOOM once you have booked – please print/download the instructions in this downloadable link and read them carefully. Zoom works best when using Google Chrome.


You will receive an email approximately 24-48 hours in advance of the event asking you to register.** This is a privacy function enabling only registered participants to attend. After registering you will automatically receive the Zoom log in link – please keep this safe

** Please note that these details are sent out in office hours, so if you book on a weekend you may not receive them until Monday. You must register with the same name that you have booked under, otherwise you may not be able to watch. If you have not received your email confirmations, please check your ‘deleted items’ and ‘junk mail’ folders or click here for advice.


Join the event at least ten minutes before it is scheduled to start, to ensure everything is working.

If you are not able to watch at the time it is live-streamed, you can still book online, as above. You do not need to advise us if you can’t participate live, don’t worry! You will be contacted after the event has been broadcast with instructions on how to watch on catch up (until Monday at midnight UK time). Please note, the recording is only available to those who have not been able to participate live.

Please refer to our Terms and Conditions for booking this event. We regret that we are unable to offer technical support with Zoom but tips can be found in the attachment. If you would like to book more than one event, please book separately for each event that you would like to attend, thank you. If you are booking for more than one person, it is important that you include their email address so that we can send them the link too. We regret we are unable to offer refunds but don’t worry if you are not able to attend, as we will send you the recording.