Even though most of the country is in lockdown there are still plenty of ways to explore the past! Amy Brunskill has put together a selection of online resources for you to peruse from home.
Take advantage of the huge variety of opportunities to visit museums and heritage sites all over the world from home, thanks to the many creative solutions on offer online. Whether you fancy exploring Malta’s submerged shipwrecks, taking a tour of Jane Austen’s house, or immersing yourself in the Palaeolithic art of Chauvet Cave, there are plenty of options to choose from below.
MUSEUMS AND EXHIBITIONS
- Kyoto National Museum, Japan – Browse the collections of one of Japan’s national museums and discover online exhibits covering topics from the culture of the samurai to the use of gold in decorative arts.
- La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, USA – Take a virtual field trip to the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum and find out more about this famous fossil site, which has shed light on the Ice Age in Los Angeles.
- Virtual Underwater Museum, Malta – Explore Malta’s submerged cultural heritage with this digital record created by divers, using powerful cameras and underwater lights to offer visitors an insight into a world usually hidden from them.
- Kajak!, Maine, USA – Learn more about the creation and use of traditional kayaks from Greenland, Labrador, and beyond in this online exhibition from the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum.
- Víkingr, Oslo, Norway – Enjoy a tour of this exhibition at the University of Oslo’s Historical Museum, which presents an array of beautiful objects from the Norwegian Viking Age.
- Jane Austen Museum, Chawton, UK – Explore Jane Austen’s house and gardens with a virtual 360° tour, join a live online guided tour, or take advantage of a selection of virtual exhibitions and digital events.
HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES
- Hidden London, UK – Sign up for virtual tours of several of London’s tube stations and secret spaces, including some locations that are so restricted that in-person public tours have never been possible. (Paid option)
- Chauvet Cave, France – Discover the Palaeolithic art of Chauvet Cave, brought to life by virtual reality technology, immersive videos, and a range of online exhibitions.
- Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, USA – Explore the cliff dwellings built by the Ancestral Pueblo people and learn about the 700 years of Native American history represented in the archaeology of Mesa Verde.
- Reconstructing Shurijo Castle, Japan – Find out how this Japanese World Heritage Site was digitally recreated using tourist photographs after a fire in 2019 destroyed six castle buildings, and discover more about the Ryukyu Kingdom.
- Mycenae, Crete – Take a virtual tour of the Greek site and learn about the many archaeological discoveries that have shed light on Mycenaean civilisation.
- Ayutthaya, Thailand – Enjoy a 360º virtual reality tour of this ancient city in Thailand, walking around the palaces, Buddhist temples, monasteries, and statues that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Learning in Lockdown
Discover a range of ways to get involved in archaeology, history, and cultural heritage from home. From an app that lets you explore gallery spaces around the world to a podcast about maritime history and social media accounts featuring pictures from the past, there’s something for everyone.
EVENTS AND EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES
- Australia’s Defining Moments – Discover important moments in Australia’s history with this interactive timeline, from the evidence of first peoples 65,000 years ago to the designation of Budj Bim Cultural Landscape as a World Heritage Site and the introduction of dung beetles.
- Get in Touch with Ötzi – Take advantage of a new virtual learning opportunity for school classes from the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology and learn from Ötzi-experts about the famous Chalcolithic Iceman.
- World War II: The Flying Frontier – Find out about the role that aeronautics played in the Second World War, and the influential moments, stories, and individuals involved, with this online exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution.
- Pocket Gallery – Download the Google Arts and Culture app and jump into galleries from around the world, wander around the virtual spaces, and discover more about your favourite works.
- Writing in the Ancient World – Find a variety of free downloadable resources packed with information to help you study or teach ancient writing systems, from Linear B to the Phoenician alphabet
PODCASTS AND RADIO
- Foreign Countries: conversations in archaeology – Join Dr Ash Lenton as he interviews archaeologists about a range of subjects, beginning with Season 1‘s exploration of the archaeology of the Roman West.
- Working Over Time – Enjoy this podcast, which examines society through the lens of work, with stories from different time periods and cultures bringing the human elements of the past to light.
- Human Ingenuity and Shared Inheritance – Listen to a discussion between Simon Baron-Cohen, Rebecca Wragg Sykes, and Susana Carvalho on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week about whether ingenuity is unique to Homo sapiens.
- What’s Her Name – Delve into the past and learn more about the forgotten stories of women you’ve probably never heard of, but certainly should have!
- Maritime History Podcast – Find out more about maritime history and all that it encompasses, from trade and economics to shipbuilding, navigation, and naval warfare.
BLOGS AND SOCIAL MEDIA
- #frescofriday – Discover pictures of beautiful mural paintings from walls across the Roman world, posted on Twitter every Friday.
- #MuseumMomentofZen – Enjoy a brief moment of calm with photos and videos on Twitter giving you a snapshot of museums’ most peaceful places, artefacts, artworks, and more.
- Historical Pix – Browse historical photographs that capture both extraordinary and mundane moments from the past, encompassing important figures and the everyday lives of ordinary people.
- Stories from the Museum Floor – Find out more about artefacts from the collections of Manchester Museum and the stories behind them in these blog posts from the Visitor Team there.
- #AskAConservator – Read answers to the questions you have always wanted to ask a conservator, with responses from a range of museums that were posted on Twitter on ‘Ask A Conservator’ day.
Find a selection of online games, downloadable colouring sheets, craft instructions, apps, and more, or choose from a variety of TV shows, films, and mini-series. Whether you are interested in constructing a Pictish chariot, building your own virtual museum, or finding out more about the art of ancient Iran, you’re sure to find something for the whole family below.
CRAFTS AND ACTIVITIES
- Exploring History – Discover an array of activities from Google Arts and Culture, from games exploring how much we have in common with prehistoric people to ‘spot the difference’ activities looking at how London has changed over time.
- Elgin Museum – Get stuck into a range of activities from the Elgin Museum: find out how to create your own Dig Box, play Museum Bingo, or construct a Pictish chariot using the template and instructions.
- Occupy White Walls – Curate, design, and build your own virtual exhibitions using art from collections around the world, including Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the first official museum to partner with this new online platform.
- University of Cambridge Museums – Choose from a wide range of enjoyable learning activities inspired by the University collections, from creating your own copy of Mary Anning’s Ichthyosaur to designing heroes and monsters inspired by those from ancient Greece.
- Washington State Historical Society – Discover colouring sheets and downloadable activities that can be used alone or alongside a virtual visit to the museum through the WA State History Museum app.
- Roman Craft Activities – Try out different craft ideas inspired by the Roman invasion of south-west Britain, from Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery.
- Art of Persia – Discover the history, culture, art, and architecture of Iran, as Samira Ahmed travels through the country’s past, from the birth of the Persian empire to Iran’s last shah.
- Luxor – Enjoy this thoughtful new film in which British aid worker Hana returns to the ancient Egyptian city of Luxor, and reunites with Sultan, an archaeologist and old flame. Virtual screenings are now available for purchase.
- Animated Thinking – Watch a series of short animated videos exploring historical topics including the nature of social relationships in ancient Greece and Rome and the story behind ‘witch bottles’.
- The Great Plague – Learn more about the Great Plague of 1665 with this series that traces it back to its source in the parish of St Giles in the Fields, follows it through the height of the epidemic, and examines its aftermath.
- Genius of the Ancient World – Join Bettany Hughes as she travels to India, Greece, and China to understand more about Buddha, Socrates, and Confucius, and their impacts on ancient philosophy.
- Jungle Mystery: lost kingdoms of the Amazon – Discover ancient cities and civilisations of South America and learn about the new technologies used to uncover the archaeological evidence they left behind.