British Museum makes over half of its collection viewable online during the coronavirus lockdown


British Museum makes over half of its collection viewable online during the coronavirus lockdown — including a ‘lost’ watercolour by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the Lewis Chessmen and the Easter Island Hoa Hakananai’a statue

  • Nearly 4.5 million objects can now be viewed by the museum’s free online portal
  • Advanced zooming technology will allow users to see items in extreme detail
  • The museum has reported a 120 per cent increase in online visitors in lockdown 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The British Museum has made over half of its extensive collection — more than four million objects — viewable online for free during the coronavirus lockdown. 

Items including a once-lost watercolour by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the striking Lewis Chessmen can be viewed virtually from the comfort of your own home.

The revamp of the online collection includes a zooming facility that allows some objects to be examined at ‘a level of detail inaccessible to the naked eye.’

This includes Hoa Hakananai’a, a moai — or statue — from Easter Island that has been in the museum for 150 years and islanders have called for it to be returned.

Also viewable at digital ‘close quarters’ is a 1,600-year-old Chinese narrative painting on a silk scroll — with more zoomable images to be added in the coming weeks. 

The British Museum has made over half of its extensive collection — more than four million objects — viewable online for free during the coronavirus lockdown. Pictured, Hoa Hakananai’a from Easter Island, one of the objects that online users can examine up close 

The online collection — first made available in 2007 — already included the museum’s most famous objects, such as the Rosetta Stone, the artefacts of Sutton Hoo, the Cyrus Cylinder, the Elgin Marbles and the Benin Bronzes.

However, the revamp has seen the user interface improved and many more recent acquisitions added — including a 3,000-year-old Bronze Age pendant and the previously lost Rossetti watercolour.

Notably, the online repository now boasts the museum’s entire collections from both Ancient Egypt and Australia.

Also accessible online are various sculptures from Ancient Greece and Rome, and some 50,000 English coins that were minted from the medieval period up to the time of the Tudors themselves.

These are accompanied by more than 750,000 prints by famous artists including Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, William Hogarth and Kara Walker.

In total, around 280,000 new object photographs and 85,000 new records have been added to the online collection, with the timing of the revamp’s launch having been brought forward to let the public enjoy the museum in spite of the  lockdown.

The revamp of the online collection includes a zooming facility that allows some objects to be examined at 'a level of detail inaccessible to the naked eye.' Pictured, the Lewis Chessmen

The revamp of the online collection includes a zooming facility that allows some objects to be examined at ‘a level of detail inaccessible to the naked eye.’ Pictured, the Lewis Chessmen

The revamp has seen the online collection's user interface improved and many more recent acquisitions added — including a 3,000-year-old Bronze Age pendant and the previously lost Dante Gabriel Rossetti watercolour, pictured

The revamp has seen the online collection’s user interface improved and many more recent acquisitions added — including a 3,000-year-old Bronze Age pendant and the previously lost Dante Gabriel Rossetti watercolour, pictured

In total, around 280,000 new object photographs and 85,000 new records have been added to the online collection, with the timing of the revamp's launch having been brought forward to let the public enjoy the museum in spite of the lockdown. Pictured, a 'Royal Game of Ur' board from the third millennium BC of Iraq

In total, around 280,000 new object photographs and 85,000 new records have been added to the online collection, with the timing of the revamp’s launch having been brought forward to let the public enjoy the museum in spite of the lockdown. Pictured, a ‘Royal Game of Ur’ board from the third millennium BC of Iraq

‘As the world grapples with this current crisis, I am glad that so many people are coming to the website and online collections of the British Museum,’ said its director, Hartwig Fischer.

‘Our collection bears witness to humanity’s ability to survive and indeed thrive in precarious times,’ he added.

‘We are delighted to be able to unveil this major revamp early, and hope that these important objects can provide inspiration, reflection or even just quiet moments of distraction during this difficult time.’

The museum has reported a huge surge in traffic to its website since it closed its doors on March 18 due to the COVID-19 crisis — with online visitor numbers up by 120 per cent in comparison with this time last year.

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk