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Culture from your sofa

Culture from your sofa

In a heartening surge of resilience, galleries, museums, gardens and live event venues the world over have taken to the internet to make sure that, although their physical doors are closed for the time being, you can still enjoy everything they have to offer from your own home. With such a lot to choose from, we’ve done a bit of digging to bring you the best of the bunch.


Google Arts & Culture has been around since 2011, but it’s really coming into its own now: a platform for museums and galleries to showcase their collections online, you can see pieces in greater detail than even in person and discover in-depth details and histories. There are a huge wealth of institutions and exhibitions to choose from, but one of our favourites is the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Home to more than 2,000 Dutch Golden Age paintings, you can see some of the most famous of these (like Vermeer’s ‘The Milkmaid’) up close in ‘stories’, read about thousands more in the online gallery, and virtually walk through the museum’s spaces to appreciate them in-situ too.

You could also try: Pérez Art Museum Miami’s YouTube talks and tours; Hauser & Wirth’s ‘Viewing Room


Virtual tours don’t come much more immersive than the one created by Sir John Soane’s Museum. The London home of 19th-century architect Sir John Soane, it’s still very much as he created it: an eclectic space, bursting at the seams with his collections of architectural drawings and models, art, furniture and books, and the online tour lets you experience these in glorious detail. Using three-dimensional scanning, you can not only travel through the house (literally, through the walls), getting an arguably even better perception of its size and layout than in person, but also see some of the objects in incredible, 360° detail. There are just two rooms to explore for now, the Model Room and the Sepulchral Chamber, but more are to follow soon.

You could also try: the V&A’s ‘Secrets of the Museum’ series on BBC iPlayer; the Natural History Museum’s Google Arts & Culture page

Theatre, opera and dance

There have always been live recordings of stage productions to enjoy at home, but, like so many others, theatres and companies are making more and more available now, and many of them for free. The ones we’re most looking forward to are Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals (for light-hearted relief and sing-along-ability), which he’s streaming every Friday at 7pm on YouTube, with the performances then available to watch for 48 hours. Aptly named ‘The Shows Must Go On!’, the complete line-up has yet to be released, but keep an eye on the channel to find out what’s on next.

You could also try: the National Theatre ‘At Home’ on YouTube, with a new play to watch each week from 7pm on Thursdays; a Marquee TV subscription, which includes theatre, dance and opera performances from the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne


Nothing can beat singing along to a favourite act at a live music event, but that’s not to say that the power of singing at home should be underestimated. And even better when you’re doing it as part of a group, which is the idea behind musician and vocal leader James Sills’ ‘The Sofa Singers’. Created to foster an uplifting sense of connection and community, this free-to-join event takes place online every week. You simply register the day before and then tune in using the Zoom app, where James will lead you and hundreds of others through 45 minutes of live singing. Tone death? Don’t worry, no one else will be able to hear you – they’ll just see the smile on your face.

You could also try: the ‘One World: Together at Home’ concert which streams live on various platforms on 18th April; London Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Always Playing’ concerts on Sunday and Thursday evenings


The Chelsea Flower Show may have been cancelled (although the RHS have hinted that there will be a virtual version) but there’s still lots online to help you immerse yourself in some of the world’s best gardens. We were particularly delighted to see that the team at Keukenhof in the Netherlands have been creating short videos to take you around the gardens. Renowned for their bulbs (particularly tulips), and opening for just a couple of months in spring, it’s a chance to see this year’s impressive displays which will be taken up and replanted come October.

You could also try: the Prince of Wale’s garden at Highgrove on Google Arts & Culture; the New York Botanical Garden’s ‘The Orchid Show: Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope’ on YouTube

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Tags: Features