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You can now take a virtual tour of the Painted Hall, London’s answer to the Sistine Chapel

Written by
Katie McCabe

The Painted Hall in Greenwich is closed, for now. But like most museums and galleries in London, it’s gone online for the lockdown. As you can’t visit the impressive Baroque painted ceilings inside the Old Royal Naval College, it’s gone and created a 360-degree virtual tour of the entire space. 

The paintings were created by British artist Sir James Thornhill starting in 1707, and took 19 years to complete. Covering 40,000 square feet, filled with trompe l’oeil (trick the eye) techniques and use of steep perspective inspired by Italian Baroque painting, they are pretty magnificent to look at. It’s a good thing they are, seeing as the hall has a reputation as London’s answer to the Sistine Chapel. 

Although it can’t quite compare to craning your neck to look up at the artworks in the Christopher Wren-designed building, the virtual tour is genuinely impressive. It operates a little like Google Street View, where you follow an arrow to digitally ‘walk’ yourself through the hall. But it also offers a chance to really look at the artworks. You can zoom in to high resolution images of the paintings and pick out specific details which carry audio and written installations. Wondering why that guy is holding a trident? Want to find out which figures represent a certain zodiac sign? Just click on the dot beside them to find out. The explanations are voiced by actress Tara Fitzgerald (aka Selyse from ‘Game of Thrones’). And there’s an option for a British Sign Language version too. 

You won’t get that atmospheric echo of your footsteps pacing through the vestibule, but you will get up close and personal with some over-dramatic British Baroque masterpieces. And if you want to compare them to the frescoes of the actual Sistine Chapel, there’s always the virtual tour of the Vatican.

Take your 360-degree tour of the Greenwich Painted Hall now

Find our guide to London’s virtual gallery and museum tours here

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