As the world goes on lockdown Rose de Lara, projects and communications officer for the School of Advanced Study’s Being Human Festival, explores various ways to enjoy the humanities at home.
Over the past few weeks we’ve witnessed the extent to which people turn to the arts and humanities in times of crisis – seeking the wisdom, escapism, creativity, solace, and understanding that the humanities bring to an increasingly uncertain world.
Through the Being Human festival channels, the SAS public engagement team has been seeking to highlight the wonderful ways in which organisations and individuals have been coming up with imaginative, fun and innovative ways to enjoy the humanities from home (there’s even a Twitter hashtag #HumanitiesfromHome). Whether it’s a virtual retreat into arts and culture, creative ways to keep busy, or pondering critical reflections and responses to this global crisis, here are just a few we’ve discovered.
Museum from home
Take yourself on a tour of that museum you’d been hoping to visit and head over to Google Arts and Culture. This wonderful online resource includes virtual guided tours of hundreds of museums and galleries worldwide, including the Uffizi Gallery, The Rijksmuseum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Got kids to keep occupied? The folk at Kids in Museums have created this fantastic list of online child-friendly resources.
If you need a break from the news, follow the hashtag #MuseumMomentofZen for moments of quiet contemplation through peaceful works of art.
All in all, #MuseumFromHome and #MuseumatHome have really taken off on Twitter, check out the hashtags to discover many more ways to enjoy museums from the comfort of your sofa.
Dr Tom Thorne (@LoveArchaeology) has compiled a great Twitter thread of online museum archives, including those at the Museum of London, and the National Library of Scotland’s map collections. Our friends at the Victoria Country History project have also compiled a great thread of local history resources available to access online. The British Library is sharing its wonderful online archives in lots of creative ways with the hashtag #LetsGetDigital.
Free online learning
Discover a whole range of totally free humanities short courses online through Coursera, where you can access free online taster courses from our very own University of London, alongside other leading universities. Other great resources are Open Learn, the Open University’s home of free learning, and FutureLearn. A History of Royal Fashion, from Historic Royal Palaces and University of Glasgow, caught our eye.
The Royal Academy of Art’s #RAdailydoodle and the Ashmolean Museum’s #IsolationCreations are just two ways to get creative with a daily challenge inspired by museum collections. If you want to take it (several steps) further and you’re feeling resourceful, the #tussenkunstenquarantaine campaign is all about recreating great works of art from the comfort of home.
Check out the BBC Free Thinking podcasts to discover all kinds of great humanities research – from lost words and language, to 100 novels that shaped our world (including some Being Human festival research from the archives).
According to The Guardian, the existential classic The Plague is spearheading interest pandemic fiction during the lockdown (see ‘Albert Camus novel The Plague leads surge of pestilence fiction’). What can we learn about a global health crisis from literary history? What other great pieces of literature are on your #shelfisolation reading list?
Culture in Quarantine
The BBC and Arts Council England have announced the Culture in Quarantine campaign as an effort to keep arts and culture alive in people’s homes. The Royal Shakespeare Ccompany will be broadcasting six plays on the BBC between now and September as part of the initiative, alongside the Big Book festival, a four-part ‘Museums in Quarantine’ series and much more.
Enjoying the humanities from home in other ways? Let us know by using the hashtag #HumanitiesfromHome.
Image credit: ‘Flowers and Insects’ by Jan van Kessel, the Elder © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (image)