Right now the vast majority of us are in self isolation and social distancing ourselves from others. But just because you can’t leave your house and visit a museum, gallery or class, doesn’t mean that you can’t get your culture on!
In fact, the cultural world is at your fingertips and you can access it all from your sofa. Learn a new skill, uncover archives and explore the worlds best museums. How? Well to get you started we’ve popped together 5 of the best ways to get your cultural fix right now
1.Build your own museum
Yes. You read that right. Your own museum.
Art Steps is a really easy to use app (it’s free for those wondering) that not only allows you to create your own museum but also to explore other self made galleries from around the world.
I stumbled across the app about a year ago when I used it to create an online museum of my work for a job interview (why yes I am that extra, thank you for asking) and I’ve been hooked ever since.
It’s kind of like if museum nerdom and sandbox gaming had a baby. What I’m saying is the possibilities are endless.
You can create anything you want. An exhibition you’ve always dreamt of, a retrospective you missed (or let’s be real, one you saw but kind of knew could be better). Hell, you could even create an online museum for a loved one. Stuffed full of their favourite artwork or goodies from a much thumbed through era, all for them to enjoy from the comfort of their sofa. The perfect pandemic gift.
2.Google Arts and Culture
Look I know it might seem obvious, but I swear, Google Arts and Culture is so severely underrated it is ridiculous.
From street view tours of the worlds most incredible museum galleries, to exploring endless retrospectives of different work and diving into high res art work. You could spend the whole isolation period on this site and still never get bored. Seriously there are over 500 art institutions to digitally walk around – and that’s just the art galleries!
But the real jewel in the Google Arts and Culture crown has to be it’s archives collections.
Many were created to tie in with a major anniversary of history week and contain the highlights of museum digitised archives and collections from across the world, along with specially made videos.
It’s an ideal way to really delve into a subject matter and not only read about it, but really get hands on (admittedly through a screen, but still, it’s bloody fantastic!)
Here are some of my favourite collections:
- Black Cultural Archives
- Road to Equality (100 years of suffrage)
- Commemorating Stonewall
- The fall of the Iron Curtain
- Women in India, their unheard stories
3.Delve into the archives
Speaking of archives, one of the many (many) great things the internet has given us is access to archives from across the globe. Now admittedly you used to have to order most archive resources but that’s not the case now.
This is 2020 and you better bet your bottom dollar that top quality shit is digitised.
If you’ve never tried out accessing archive records, now is a great time to learn how. After you’ve used Google Arts and Culture to get a feel of how to use archived resources, check out The National Archives and start searching for whatever takes your fancy.
They have over 32 million records from 1000 years of history, with some of that digitised (or described).
You could test out archive digging by searching for your family history, an area of local history you’ve always been interested in or something more broad, like passenger lists from The Titanic or military records.
4.Visit your local library at home
Most libraries are now shut, but you can still borrow e-books, audio books and sometimes even magazines from the comfort of your sofa.
All you need to do is pop in your library card details and as if by magic you can download all the literary gems you might like to your phone or tablet.
Plus it’s all for free!
Now, as with any library, there aren’t infinite amount of books, so there may be a waiting list for what you initially want, but it’s also a great chance to explore types of books that you might not normally read.
Because as the old adage goes:
Everyday is school day, even when the schools are closed and even when you haven’t been to school in like…er, actually lets not get into how long it’s been since I graduated.
One of the best ways to spend isolation has got to be by learning a new skill or immersing yourself into an era of history you’ve always wanted to know more about.
My personal favourite place for online courses is Future Learn, which has some amazing free courses (as well as many that you need to pay for access to)
They’re put together by leading academics and universities, so there can be no quibbles over their quality. I’ve done their Tudor History course, which I can definitely recommend (it takes place over six weeks with five hours a weeks work). Oh and they even have a course on Covid-19, so you can become an expert and dispel all that BS you find on WhatsApp and Facebook.
The Open University also has over 1000 free courses that you can choose from. With a ton of amazing introductory history courses, as well as some for languages. Courses vary in length from one hour all the way up to thirty. So you can find something to fit whatever free time you have right now.
Plus the courses give you a certificate at the end, which is a handy way for you to show off all that new knowledge you’ve learnt.
I don’t know about you but I’m really excited to put all this into action, escape my sofa and explore a world of knowledge.