How to explore the British Museum from home
When we first opened our doors in 1759, we proudly declared ourselves a place for ‘all studious and curious persons’. It’s a mission we’re still dedicated to – even if we can’t currently welcome visitors in person. With that in mind, we’d like to share the many ways in which you can explore our galleries and the collection while the Museum is closed.
So, here are 11 ways for you to stay curious, keep learning, and experience over two million years of human history – all without stepping out your front door.
1. Virtual Museum tours with Google Street View
Did you know that the Museum is the world’s largest indoor space on Google Street View? You can go on a virtual visit to more than 60 galleries – perfect for creating your own bespoke tour around your favourites. See highlights like the Rosetta Stone in the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery or discover gems like the beautiful textiles in the Sainsbury African Galleries.
As well as allowing you to plan your own route through our labyrinthine galleries, Google Street View has the advantage of letting you see the collection when the Museum is blissfully quiet.
2. Keep exploring with virtual galleries
We also offer virtual galleries on our own website. You can explore our extensive Prints and Drawings collection to see Old Masters such as Dürer and Michelangelo or see new and exciting contemporary pieces. Dive into the incredible Oceania collection and uncover a vast array of objects from Australia, New Guinea and the many islands dotted across the South Pacific Ocean.
3. Go behind the scenes with the Museum Podcast
If you’d prefer some company on your journey around the Museum, try downloading the British Museum Podcast. You’ll join presenters Sushma Jansari and Hugo Chapman as they take you on a journey behind the scenes at the Museum – meeting scientists, curators, authors and artists along the way.
Hugo and Sushma’s recent adventures include learning about mysterious ‘mummy goo’, learning about the perils of poison arrows in the collection and going on a trip to the Museum’s own X-ray lab.
The British Museum Podcast is free, and available wherever you get your podcasts.
4. Liven up home learning with our digital resources
Lots of families across the UK and the world are adapting to temporary home-schooling. So, whether you’re searching for a little inspiration or clean out of ideas already, we’re here to help. The Museum has a broad range of free learning resources available on our website, covering ages 3–16+. Excite inquisitive minds as you teach them how Egyptian mummies were made, or learn about what the Romans ate and drank – then try out a recipe for honeyed bread together.
Our resources cover a wide range of curriculum links, including History, Art and Design and RE and we offer materials on diverse topics such as Sutton Hoo, Egypt, Rome, prehistoric Britain and the Vikings.
5. Immerse yourself with audio tours
To get expert insights into the collection, listen to Museum curators introduce the galleries – each snippet offers a tantalising overview to whet your appetite. Available on Apple Music and Google Play, our world-leading curators have recorded introductions to 64 galleries so you can go on an adventure taking in anything from Assyrian lion hunts to Chinese jade. The tracks have also been translated into Korean, Chinese, Italian and Spanish.
Our Desire, Love, Identity audio tour explores LGBTQ histories in the collection. Narrated by renowned actor Simon Russell Beale and star of Killing Eve Fiona Shaw, the tour draws out previously hidden stories of same-sex love and desire from the collection. You’ll hear about the 2,000-year-old Warren Cup – referred to as the ‘holy grail of homosexuality’ – as well as lesser-known objects such as a Maori treasure box carved with startling sexual imagery.
6. Get geeky on YouTube
Our YouTube channel is home to our much-loved Curators corner series, interviews with scientists and conservators and much, much more. Fancy learning how to write cuneiform then kicking back and watching an ancient rock gong being played? This is the place for you. You’ll find recipes, how-to videos and more potential pub quiz knowledge than you can shake a stick at.
If you’d like to take a deeper dive into a specific topic, check out our playlists covering subjects such as manga, Troy, and our science and conservation work.
7. See more on Google Arts & Culture
Discover more than 7,000 objects on our home-away-from-home – Google’s online hub of content from museums and archives around the world. As well as collection information and images, our Google Arts & Culture pages also feature online exhibits such as Egypt: faith after the pharaohs and Street Views of sites in Central and South America. Plus, download the Google Arts & Culture app to see more special features, and see art in your own home via AR.
While you’re there, check out the interactive experience The Museum of the World. A mind-boggling visualisation of how two million years of human cultures and histories are interconnected, this interactive timeline is illustrated with objects from the British Museum collection.
8. Eight million objects at your fingertips
The collection is available to everyone on Collection online. You can search for objects and images using keywords, or try filtering by place, artist or material if you’re feeling more expert. You may find this handy guide useful for navigating the site.
Alternatively, you can browse through broader themes and collection histories on our main site. Explore all the weird and wonderful creatures in the collection through our animals page. Or look through the collection by region – we’ve created easy-to-navigate pages on China, Africa, Egypt and the Americas.
9. Bury your nose in the blog
If you have ambitions to use the next few weeks to read more and binge-watch less, head right here to the Museum blog. Find your footing in the ancient world with Who was Achilles? or An introduction to Greek architecture. Or get lost in amazing Museum stories, like our recent piece about the beautiful and surreal constituent parts of dust in the Museum. The blog is updated regularly and includes pieces from both guest and Museum voices.
10. Find out more about us
Want to find out more about the ‘studious and curious persons’ mission we mentioned earlier? The Museum story is told in all its glorious detail on our website – have a look and you’ll find out about our history as the first national public museum in the world, and learn about our ties with the British Library and the Natural History Museum. Plus, there’s lots to read about our architecture and research work.
11. Stay in touch
We’ll be sharing lots of nuggets about the collection and our work over the coming weeks – both new stories and old favourites. Make sure to subscribe to our emails and follow us on social media so you can keep exploring history, humanity and the British Museum itself – and be the first to know when we reopen.
Take care out there. We look forward to welcoming you back through the Museum doors soon.
Use #MuseumFromHome to join in with people across the globe who are sharing art, culture and history from their homes.
Subscribe to our emails (including bespoke offers for schools and families) here.
The Museum needs your support now more than ever to continue sharing the collection with the world. Donate today.