Running from May 11-17 2020, International Museum Week gives us the chance to celebrate all that is great about our cultural institutions – and Britain is packed with museums worth discovering, even from a distance. Perfect if you’re a culture buff dreaming of exploration, here are some of the virtual worlds bringing the nation’s major museums to life from the comfort of home.
Covering more than two million years of heritage and human endeavour, go online to embark on a digital quest and discover the recently revamped British Museum online collection. Featuring 4.5 million objects and 1.9 million images, the collection boasts new updates and enhanced zoom functionality. An interactive experience titled The Museum of the World will also take you on a journey through time, cultures and across continents, with museum curators providing insight every step of the way. Alongside a wealth of online exhibits to explore are an incredible range of historical items, from Egyptian mummies to figurines and pottery.
With a collection spanning 5,000 years of human creativity, you can delve into the digital world of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Exploring creations that range from ancient ceramics to manuscripts, Raphael Cartoons and Alexander McQueen evening dresses, the online collections cover numerous different periods and styles, giving you a glimpse into the world’s greatest creative minds.
Delve back into the past to discover more than a century of flying history at the Royal Air Force Museum thanks to virtual tours of several hangers and exhibitions. From learning about aviation pioneers to the planes they flew, the hangers in particular provide unique insight into some of the people and aircraft that helped shape Britain.
Navigate the galleries of the Natural History Museum thanks to Google Street View on the way to discovering its unique collection of exhibits. Renowned around the world for their scientific research and expertise, an interactive experience titled Making Natural History is voiced by museum curators and explores everything from the origins of the solar system and humankind to evolution, nature and the future.
Saddle up for a virtual 3D tour of the Household Cavalry Museum for a unique look into the work of the Queen’s Mounted Bodyguard. Detailing the history and accomplishments of the Household Cavalry, you can also discover the colours, uniforms, weapons and regalia used by the two most senior regiments in the British army.
Explore the worlds of art, culture and the natural world with virtual tours around the World Museum in Liverpool. Take in the National Museum Liverpool’s vast collections from around the globe in the World Cultures gallery, explore the history of the natural world in the Dinosaurs and Natural World Exhibition, or enjoy an incredible exhibition of celebrated Japanese artist Taki Katei – the first to be hosted outside of his home country.
Discover the exquisite nature of the Queen’s official residence in Scotland with a virtual 360-degree imagery tour of the Palace of Holyroodhouse’s main rooms. Climb the Great Staircase, bask in the splendour of the Morning Drawing Room and browse the many artworks, tapestries and ornaments that adorn the King’s Bedchamber in the home of Scottish royal history.
Venture around the virtual decks of the SS Great Britain, the pioneering ship created by engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel that helped to change history. Currently moored in Bristol and widely viewed as one of the most important vessels in existence, its mix of size, power and naval technology at the time of launch in 1843 paved the way for a new age of maritime travel.
Uncover everything from fine art and metalwork to archaeology and local history on a virtual trip around the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Four different tours explore the museum’s art and history galleries, covering 700 years of artworks from the 14th century to the present day, the history of the city, and the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard - the biggest stockpile of Anglo-Saxon gold ever discovered.
Enjoy the delights of Buckinghamshire’s Waddesdon Manor in virtual form, with tours providing an opportunity to see some rooms which are not always accessible to the public. You’ll be amazed by the intricate artworks and elaborate armour in the Bachelors’ Wing, uncover treasures in the Tower Drawing Room and marvel at striking furniture in the Green Boudoir – the location where Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild gifted a jewelled fan to Queen Victoria in 1890.
Created by Pan 3Sixty, you can wander the digital decks of HMS Belfast for a glimpse into life aboard the Town-class light cruiser at times of war. Permanently moored in the River Thames as an Imperial War Museums ship, discover more about the Royal Navy’s most significant surviving Second World War vessel while delving into a history that includes the Arctic Convoys, D-Day, the Cold War, Korea and much more.