You don't have to wait until the British Museum in London reopens to explore its collections. As Artnet News reports, the museum has uploaded nearly 4.5 million objects to its digital archives, and anyone is free to view and download them to create their own virtual museum tours at home.

Unable to connect with visitors in person due to the COVID-19 crisis, the British Museum recently updated its website with 300,000 new images. The online collection now features roughly half of the institution's catalog, with items spanning 2 million years of history from six continents. In addition to uploading the new materials, the museum has also revamped its archives to make it easier to search and view objects on tablets, mobile phones, and desktop computers.

The most iconic piece in the museum's collection is the Rosetta Stone. Even if you've seen it in person, the digital file is worth seeing for an up-close view of the artifact that's not normally accessible to the public. You can use the zoom tool to study the high-resolution photograph of the rock line by line. If you don't know what you're looking for, the British Museum also makes it easy to stumble upon new art as you would in the brick-and-mortar location. Curated online collections ready to be explored include Americas; Death and Memory; and Desire, Love and Identity.

The Rosetta Stone.© The Trustees of the British Museum // CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Porcelain chocolate cups and saucers from late 18th-century England.© The Trustees of the British Museum // CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Your virtual museum experience doesn't have to end when you leave the British Museum's website. Every photograph falls under a Creative Commons license, which means you can download them and save them to revisit whenever you like. For art lovers who prefer something more immersive than viewing individual image files, you can also tour the museum galleries virtually via Google Street View. Here are more world-class museums to check out without leaving your living room.

[h/t Artnet News]