Museums and galleries you can visit without leaving your sofa

Many museums and galleries are still offering a warm welcome to “visitors” – through some very creative, and virtual, ways.

Offering a chance to keep your mind active, your spirits up, and to while away a few hours exploring amazing treasures, online collections and virtual tours are, not surprisingly, proving very popular right now.

So, here are just a few ideas revealing how you can still get your culture fix from the comfort of your own home…


A time for soothing words

Staffordshire’s Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, the family home that inspired a literary giant, is temporarily closed, but you can still discover a host of fascinating facts and wordy wonders by searching the Museum’s Collection, which has over 8000 objects including books, fine art and manuscripts online at take your own virtual tour Best known for his Dictionary of the English Language, Samuel Johnson spent the first 27 years of his life in the trader’s townhouse in Lichfield.


A treasure trove from ‘backpacking’ travelling earls

Often said to be the trailblazing origins of modern backpacking, albeit a little more upmarket, the ‘Grand Tours’ of Europe by the English nobility in the 17th century helped shape leisure tourism as we know it today. In the golden age of Grand Tours, sons of the nobility toured Europe to broaden their education and life experience and the earls of Lincolnshire’s Burghley House – England’s largest and grandest house of the first Elizabethan age – were among the first to pioneer this new style of travel. Today the treasure trove of personal souvenirs collected during those grand journeys through France to Italy can be seen within the staterooms at Burghley. While you can’t visit the house for the time being, you can search Burghley’s Collection online – including Italian Old Master paintings, said to be one of the finest collections in private hands, as well as world famous Oriental and European ceramics.


Paint a picture in Southampton

Southampton City Art Gallery – which opened in 1939 – holds one of the finest collections of art in the south of England. Comprising over 5,000 works and spanning eight centuries, the collection traces the history of European art from the Renaissance to the present. The core, however, is British twentieth century and contemporary art. Visit virtually, and you can check-out its online collection and discover more about the artworks, from Renaissance Painting and French 19thCentury art, to the best of 20thCentury British Painting and Contemporary Art.


‘Potter’ around world class ceramics…

Stoke-on-Trent is famously known as “The Potteries”. And one of its most iconic names must be that of Wedgwood. The world-class attraction, The World of Wedgwood, recently became the latest outpost for London’s The Victoria and Albert Museum. The V&A Collection at World of Wedgwood is one of the finest collections of ceramics in the world. The complete collection contains 8,000 pieces of historic ceramics, more than 75,000 manuscripts and items of correspondence and a fine art collection, including works by Stubbs, Romney and Reynolds. It is possible to search the Collection online by clicking on the ‘V&A Collection at World of Wedgwood’ link.


… and explore the rest of the Potteries

Discover the story of The Potteries through displays of art, local history, natural sciences and the world’s greatest collection of Staffordshire ceramics, right from your own device. The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent, is also home to the Staffordshire Hoard, a fascinating exhibition that sets pieces from the world-famous Hoard in context among items from a collection of Anglo-Saxon finds, many never displayed before, offering a glimpse into our ancestors’ lives. Stroll through the museum on your own private viewing at


Cultural comfort from Hampshire

Encompassing 23 venues, including museums and art galleries, Hampshire Cultural Trust is working on plans to bring the best of Hampshire arts and culture to those in self-isolation, working at home, caring for loved ones or just bored beyond belief! Recognising the arts and museums can lift spirits, they hope to deliver new cultural activity over virtual platforms, including social media channels live streaming exhibitions.


From an ancient hippo to world famous artist

Derby Museum and Art Gallery is home to the world’s largest collection of works by Derby artist Joseph Wright, whose paintings and works adorn the walls of major galleries across the world. It is also where you will find a 3m long skeleton of an ancient hippo – an animal that once grazed along the River Derwent in the city. March through the Soldier’s Story exhibition and explore the life of a soldier from the 1700s to the present day, through uniform, artefacts and personal stories. Pop on your adventure hat and explore historic artefacts from thousands of years ago, within the Archaeology Gallery. All without leaving your home. Take a 360° tour of the galleries, or “walk” through the entire Museum on a 3D virtual tour.


Sense and Sensibility: spend time with Jane

Hampshire’s Jane Austen’s House Museum – called the most treasured Austen site in the world – holds an unparalleled collection of objects relating to Jane Austen and her close family circle. Many of these objects, which range from books and letters to pieces of furniture, clothing and paintings, can be seen in the House, but while the doors remain closed Austen fans can still get their fix by browsing an online collection, which began in 2017 as part of ‘Jane Austen in 41 Objects’, a project that took place to mark the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. As well as the objects, descriptions compiled by staff, trustees and friends of the Museum provide a unique and personal way to understand each object.

[Derby Hippo image credit: Derby Museum and Art Gallery]