We thought we’d take a look at what members of Cultural Enterprises are doing online to engage audiences digitally with venues closed to the public. There are far too many to include here, so please share with us what we’ve missed in the comments below or on social. Hopefully you’ll find some inspiration, both personally and professionally.

The National Gallery has launched a site promoting some of their most famous artworks as backdrops to video calls. You can donate to the gallery as you download; a brilliant way of making the gallery current, and a clever new revenue stream.

How about diving into the world of Japanese printmakers with Bristol Museum & Art Gallery (Hokusai’s a personal favourite), or vote in the BP National Portrait Award 2020 after seeing the exhibition online at the National Portrait Gallery?

You can even be part of the exhibition with Glasgow Life, who are promoting a call out for a contemporary photography show, capturing Glaswegian life during lockdown to be shown at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

#MMinQuarantine from Manchester Museum is a new mobile site created for their digital content, including some cleverly curated sections for carers and families.

There are some stellar opportunities to see exhibitions it would have been difficult to get a ticket for otherwise. The Royal Academy’s Picasso and Paper, and the Saatchi Gallery’s Tutankhamun, are just two current ones from members. Tate Britain’s Aubrey Beardsley drawings for example make an arresting transition to video, as this wonderful tour demonstrates.

Want something with a bit more movement? I recommend jumping on board the Postal Museum’s excellent online tour of their underground Mail Rail.

If that makes you feel too claustrophobic, take to the high seas with the Australian National Maritime Museum’s Cook’s Voyages Game, perfect for children stuck indoors. You can even take an online tour of the Endeavour or a submarine (sorry, another enclosed space).

More ideas for keeping children occupied, and occasionally away from a screen, courtesy of Dartmouth National Park who have created a Learning in Lockdown page.

Theatre Clwyd is creating some wonderful digital content, from Dance for Parkinson’s live events, to their #TCTogether campaign including poetry, dance and plays. 

North Yorkshire Moors Railway has created a virtual shop as part of their Crisis Appeal for donations, including buying a virtual bacon butty.

Meanwhile the Royal Opera House’s brilliantly conceived and executed #ourhometoyourhome campaign, brings a free programme of curated online broadcasts to the comfort of your sofa or bed via YouTube and Facebook.

The National Theatre has garnered widespread praise from critics and audiences alike for launching National Theatre at Home. Their YouTube screenings are free to watch, though the fundraisers to go with them have raised thousands. And their YouTube channel has seen subscriptions balloon from under 100,000 to over 600,000 at time of writing. A strong legacy once the theatre re-opens.

And finally, The Tank Museum’s cult YouTube presenter David Fletcher (he has his own t-shirts – talk about upselling!) begins one of his videos by saying: “One thing I would say, if you don’t agree with me, then just keep it to yourself”. And he’s as wonderful as you’d expect. I’ve learnt more about British tanks while writing this article than I thought possible. And if that’s not an example of how digital content can draw in people to our world-class venues, I don’t know what is.

What have we missed? Share in the comments below, or tell us on Twitter or Facebook.

Tom Dawson
By Tom Dawson
Tom is the Director of Digital at the Association for Cultural Enterprises, responsible for comms, membership, and digital content, including the Cultural Enterprises Academy. Based in London, Tom previously worked at the National Theatre.
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