Last March, museums and heritage sites across the world closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, we created ‘Heritage from Home’ to share the many wonderful ways that you can get your fix of archaeology, history, and culture without leaving the house. Amy Brunskill has put together a roundup of highlights featured so far.
Over the last 12 months, museums and heritage sites have found a variety of creative ways to engage visitors from home, whether through video tours, interactive 3D models, online exhibitions, or blog posts and events highlighting stories or objects from the past. The last year has shown that it is possible to experience amazing places without travelling anywhere.
MUSEUMS AND EXHIBITIONS
- British Museum, UK – The British Museum offers a wealth of different ways to explore its collections from home, including the ‘History Connected’ feature, online exhibits, and Google Streetview, which lets you walk around the museum. There are video tours of past exhibitions, too, on their YouTube channel.
- National Museums Liverpool, UK – Discover objects from the collections of the seven museums and galleries that make up NML, take virtual tours around their exhibits, or explore tales from the city’s past in the ‘Stories’ section of the website.
- Virtual Underwater Museum, Malta – This new virtual museum allows you to explore Malta’s underwater heritage sites through digital records created by divers, offering a unique insight into an aspect of cultural heritage which is usually hard to see.
- Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK – Discover an array of online resources and exhibitions covering a wide range of objects in the museum’s collection, from illuminated manuscripts to ancient Egyptian coffins.
- Tenement Museum, New York, USA – The Tenement Museum offers a selection of digital exhibits and video stories, as well as virtual tours and events, which tell the story of immigrants, refugees, and immigrants to New York.
- Manchester Museum, UK – Manchester Museum has really risen to the challenges posed by COVID-19, offering a huge selection of different kinds of digital resources, as well as a popular podcast and online events.
- Víkingr, Oslo, Norway – Explore a collection of beautiful objects from the Norwegian Viking Age in this exhibition from the University of Oslo’s Historical Museum with a guided video or a 3D model.
HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES
- Roman Baths, Bath, UK – Discover the Roman Baths in a variety of different ways, including a walkthrough with Google Streetview, a 3D model of the complex, informative videos, and online resources for both learning and entertainment
- Palmyra, Syria – This 360º tour, created in 2007, offers a unique opportunity to explore the ruins of the ancient Semitic city as it existed before the destruction of much of the site by ISIS terrorists in 2016.
- Heritage on the Edge – This Google Arts & Culture online exhibition explores not one, but five heritage sites around the world, looking at how they are dealing with the challenges posed by climate change
- Explore Maeshowe, Orkney, UK – Download this app, designed by Historic Environment Scotland, to take a virtual tour around the 5,000-year-old tomb of Maeshowe, which is part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site.
- Chauvet Cave, France – Explore the art created by Palaeolithic people in Chauvet Cave through a selection of online exhibitions, games, videos, augmented reality features, and more.
- Colosseum, Rome, Italy – Take a tour around the famous Roman amphitheatre with this hour-long video, which guides you around every area of the site and offers information about its construction and history.
Learning in Lockdown
Since March, heritage professionals and institutions have devised a plethora of ways to learn about the past from home. Here are some of our favourites, including online courses and educational videos, entertaining podcasts, and inventive hashtags and social media accounts.
EVENTS AND EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES
- English Heritage – Discover more about the people, places, and important events of England’s history with a wide range of options for every historical period, including videos, activities, games, and recipes.
- Ancient Rome Live – Find a selection of lectures and learning resources covering many aspects of ancient Rome and its empire in this forum from the American Institute for Roman Culture.
- Curator’s Corner – Enjoy these short videos from the British Museum, in which curators introduce you to their favourite artefacts and stories from the collection, from the Sutton Hoo helmet to 18th-century hot-air balloon tickets.
- Fabricius – Learn how to identify and draw ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, or write and share your own message, translated from English, Arabic, or emojis.
- Civilisations AR – This augmented reality app, produced in association with the BBC series Civilisations, allows you to examine and interact with important historical artefacts from around the world.
- DigVentures – DigVentures offers a selection of online courses for all ages and experience levels, covering everything from how archaeologists choose where to dig, to the technology used to record finds in 3D.
PODCASTS AND RADIO
- In Our Time – You’re sure to find something that interests you in the extensive back catalogue of this long-running series from the BBC, which covers a wide range of historical and cultural subjects.
- Talking Tudors – Discover more about a wealth of topics related to Tudor history, ranging from Christmas celebrations and traditions to the life of Anne of Cleves and her siblings.
- You’re Dead to Me – Enjoy this light-hearted history podcast, which brings academics, experts, and comedians together to discuss everything from the history of chocolate to the pirate Blackbeard.
- Speaking with Shadows – Delve into the stories of forgotten characters and events in British history, relating to sites from Battle Abbey to Hadrian’s Wall, with this podcast from English Heritage.
- Sidedoor – Go behind the scenes at the Smithsonian and discover stories from the collections and parts of the museums that are beyond the public view
- Revolutionary Women – Find out about the female scientists, visionaries, and warriors who changed the world, from the Quaker philanthropist Elizabeth Fry to the ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti. PHOTOS: Wikimedia Commons,
BLOGS AND SOCIAL MEDIA
- #FindsFriday – This hashtag offers a great way to get your weekly dose of archaeology, with archaeologists posting a vast range of artefacts from a wide variety of historical periods and locations on Twitter every week.
- Time Team – The YouTube channel for the popular TV show has been very active over the last few months, offering commentaries on old episodes, ‘Teatime’ sessions with interviews from the individuals who were behind Time Team, and more.
- #MosaicMonday – This Twitter hashtag has remained popular throughout the year, and every week you can find an abundance of wonderful pictures of mosaics posted by archaeologists and institutions all over the world.
- Black Country Museum TikTok – The museum has shown how effectively TikTok can be used by heritage organisations, through their entertaining and informative short videos with characters and themes from the living museum in Dudley, UK.
- Historical Royal Palaces – The HRP blog offers a look behind the scenes of the palaces, covering everything from the logistics of heating Hampton Court in the winter to beauty tips used by Elizabeth I.
- The Tweetside Hoard – This innovative ‘Twitter exhibition’ allows you to explore the objects in the Museum of London’s Cheapside Hoard exhibition simply by scrolling through a thread full of photographs and information.
Discover something to suit all ages and interests in this section, with instructions for historical crafts, activities, and games from a variety of museums and institutions, or discover some of the best archaeological TV programmes available now, covering subjects from the archaeology of the Amazon to Britain’s historic towns.
CRAFTS AND ACTIVITIES
- Young Archaeologists’ Club – The YAC frequently updates the section of their website with history- and archaeology-themed craft instructions. Look through the extensive list of ideas and find out how to make your own Anglo-Saxon ship burial, create a set of canopic jars, and much more.
- Ashmolean Museum – Discover a great selection of craft ideas, online games, quizzes, jigsaws, and more, all based on objects and artworks in the museum’s collections.
- Historical Hangman – Enjoy a historical version of the classic game online, with puzzles based on themes ranging from ‘castle terminology’ to ‘inventors during the Industrial Revolution’.
- Ancient Games – Try your hand at a selection of ancient games from cultures around the world, like the ancient Egyptian game ‘Senet’ or Anglo-Saxon ‘Merels’, with these instructions from Durham University’s Oriental Museum.
- Vindolanda Charitable Trust – Get stuck into a range of Roman activities and crafts from the Roman fort: solve puzzles, download colouring sheets, learn how to carry out an excavation at home, or make your own ancient aqueduct.
- History Activities – Find a variety of historical themed craft ideas and instructions, learn how to create your own cuneiform seal or Roman relief coin, build a medieval castle, or design a sarcophagus.
- Britain’s Most Historic Towns – This series offers a fascinating insight into many periods of British history, focusing on a different town or city each episode, from Viking York to Georgian Edinburgh.
- Meet the Romans with Mary Beard – Discover the everyday people of ancient Rome in this series in which Mary Beard goes beyond the usual tales of emperors and armies to discover how those at the heart of the empire really lived.
- Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon – Join Ella Al-Shamahi as she explores the ancient cultures and civilisations of South America, finding out about the incredible archaeology hidden in the Amazon rainforest
- Bone Detectives: Britain’s Buried Secrets – Join Tori Herridge and a team of scientists as they explore the stories behind burials and human remains discovered across the country. All episodes are now available online.
- Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb – Follow the team working at the ancient Egyptian site of Saqqara as they unearth a lavishly decorated tomb belonging to a highranking official who lived 4,400 years ago, and discover the mysteries hidden within it.
- The Great British Dig: History in Your Garden – If you’ve ever wondered what history might lie underneath your lawn, you will enjoy this programme, in which a team of archaeologists explores the Roman archaeology beneath a suburban street in Kent. Look out for the new series, coming soon.