With many of us now working from home, or using video chats to connect with friends and family, it feels like everyone's on Zoom. From happy hours to dance classes and lectures, more people are using Zoom to expand their virtual experiences while being at home. Why not spice up your next meeting with a virtual background from one of the region's many cultural organizations? While it's not quite the same as visiting, it'll definitely make you feel (and look) cooler.
The Phillyfunguide has put together the ultimate list of backgrounds that will take you anywhere from the center stage of the hottest musical to the scenic gardens of your favorite landmarks and everything in-between.
To use any of these virtual backgrounds, simply:
-Download your favorites from this page
-When you log in to your next Zoom call, look for the icon that says "Start Video" in the bottom left hand corner. Click the arrow on the right of it, and select "Choose a virtual background" from the menu.
-Pick your background, and you're ready to go!
Philadelphia Magic Gardens (Download Image)
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (PMG) is an immersive mixed media art environment that is completely covered with mosaics. The creator, Isaiah Zagar, used handmade tiles, bottles, bicycle wheels, mirror, and international folk art to chronicle his life and influences. The space is made up of two indoor galleries and a bi-level outdoor sculpture garden.
As a nonprofit museum, PMG celebrates art in its many forms through community outreach, public programs, hands-on activities, exhibitions, and tours.
Morris Arboretum (Download Image)
Bring a calming effect to your next Zoom meeting with this beautiful photo from the Morris Arboretum Rose Garden!
Horwitz-Wasserman Holocaust Memorial Plaza (Download Image)
Opened to the public in October 2018 on the site of the Nathan Rapoport’s Monument to Six Million Jewish Martyrs, the Horwitz-Wasserman Holocaust Memorial Plaza (America’s first public monument memorializing the victims of the Holocaust) helps visitors to learn about, reflect upon, and remember the Holocaust through its historical and educational features. The Memorial Plaza is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is accessible free of charge. The Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation maintains and develops programming for the Memorial Plaza. Learn more about the Memorial Plaza and access at-home Holocaust education resources, through their website.
Take center stage with this image from the Azuka Theatre's 2017 production of Sh*theads by Douglas Williams! (Scenic design by Apollo Mark Weaver, Lighting design by J. Dominic Chacon. Photo by Johanna Austin/AustinArt.org)
Azuka Theatre was founded in 1999 and is dedicated to telling the stories of outcasts and underdogs and is the first company in Philadelphia (and the country as far as we can tell) to offer all of their performances as Pay What You Decide which seeks to remove the financial barrier of seeing theater – particularly new theater work – and open the doors to anyone interested in seeing a show. Learn more about the Azuka Theatre by visiting their website.
Wyck Historic House (Download Image)
Wyck is a National Historic Landmark house, garden, and farm in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia that served as the ancestral home to one Philadelphia family for nine generations (1690-1973). Today, the Wyck Association connects this family and its rich history to our community through programs that focus on history, horticulture, and urban agriculture, using the past as inspiration for the present. Learn more about Wyck on their official website.
Villanova Theatre (Download Image)
Eurydice, 2015. (Set Design by Parris Bradley; Directed by James Ijames).
Villanova Theatre is an award-winning theatre on the Main Line and home to a nationally recognized Master’s in Theatre Program. Now located in their new home in the state-of-the-art John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts, Villanova Theatre produces a full season of plays and musicals while training the next generation of great theatre artists. For more information, check out their official website.
National Liberty Museum (Download Image)
Wow your friends with this background from the National Liberty Museum's Flame Gallery exhibit. The National Liberty Museum’s Flame Gallery, featuring the 21-ft Flame of Liberty by Dale Chihuly, was completely renovated in 2018. This space now provides a 360° experience of inspirational words, images, sounds, and voices, incorporating this magnificent glass flame into the presentation.
Mt. Gretna Playhouse (Download Image)
The Mt. Gretna Playhouse is in the Pennsylvania Chautauqua, established in 1892 to promote “intellectual leisure.” They bring excellent musicians to rural central PA to perform great enduring music from June – September. Learn more about Mt. Gretna on their official website.
Now you can be the first to visit The Clay Studio's new facility in South Kensington - at least virtually! The new building will feature a rooftop deck, double the classrooms, larger artist studios and new equipment. Learn more about The Clay Studio and their new facility on their official website.
Eastern State Penitentiary (Download Image)
Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site interprets the legacy of American criminal justice reform, from the nation’s founding through to the present day, within the long abandoned cellblocks of the nation’s most historic prison. The conversation continues online; for more information about Eastern State’s new virtual programming, visit www.EasternState.org/connect-and-learn or follow Eastern State Penitentiary (@EasternState) on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Dilworth Park (Download Image)
If you miss Center City as much as we do, then you'll love this image of the blooming tulips in Dilworth Park garden!
Carpenters Hall (Download Image)
Feel like a Founding Father with this image of the façade of Carpenters’ Hall; the oldest continually operating trade guild in the United States. Did you know that the First Continental Congress took place here in the autumn of 1774?!
Battleship New Jersey (Download Image)
Captain the Battleship New Jersey with this action-packed background! The Battleship is a non-profit museum and memorial on the Camden Waterfront, NJ. Take a virtual tour of the Battleship New Jersey and make sure to subscribe to their YouTube channel for even more content.
Bristol Riverside Theatre (Download Image)
Join the cast of Cabaret (2020) at the Bristol Riverside Theatre with this background taken straight from the show!
BalletX (Download Image)
Join BalletX, Philadelphia's premier contemporary ballet company, as they perform a Pop Up at the top of Philadelphia Museum of Art's iconic East Steps (Rocky Steps) overlooking the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Anne-Marie Mulgrew & Dancers (Download Image)
Known in the city since 1986 for its "visually arresting" and "highly imaginative" dance theater works and unusual collaborative projects, Anne-Marie Mulgrew and Dancers Company (AMM & DCO) has performed more than 75 major works choreographed by Anne-Marie Mulgrew in performances in the United States and Canada. The company's works have appeared in theaters, alternative spaces, site specific locations, schools, festivals, collaborative projects and for film and TV. Fusing modern dance, theater, music, technology and art, the company charms, provokes and informs audiences of all ages with its insightful and wacky views of the world. Learn more by visiting their official website.
The Barnes Foundation (Download Image)
The Barnes Foundation is home to one of the world’s finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and modern paintings—including the largest groups of paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Paul Cézanne in existence—the Barnes brings together renowned canvases by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, and Vincent van Gogh, alongside African, Asian, ancient, and medieval art as well as metalwork, furniture, and decorative art. While their doors are temporarily closed, you can explore the Barnes from home.
Academy of Natural Sciences (Download Image)
The iconic Dinosaur Hall, with the mighty T. rex as its centerpiece, is a main attraction at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. The Academy is the nation’s oldest natural history museum and is dedicated to advancing research, education and public engagement in biodiversity and environmental science.