As we sequester ourselves at home, many will likely be feeling at a loss as to how to keep themselves, and their families, entertained during the lockdown.
While we’d suggest making sure you take plenty of breaks from the screen – for your daily exercise, reading, board games and arts and crafts – there is also plenty of fun to be had online.
Along with your regular streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, NowTV and the new Disney+, there’s a virtually unlimited treasure trove of online museums, concerts, galleries and musical theatre online, which is only being added to as lockdowns around the world continue.
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The Tate (Modern and Britain) has announced a number of free online tours of its galleries, including ones of its Andy Warhol and Aubrey Beardsley exhibitions.
Meanwhile, Andrew Lloyd Webber revealed that some of his most popular West End musicals will be made available online, also for free, starting with Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat.
Here are our top picks to keep you and the family entertained:
Galleries and museums
Tate Modern and Tate Britain
The Tate Modern has announced an extensive list of free online tours, along with new films that allow you to explore some remarkable works of art from your sofa.
Published on the Tate’s website and YouTube channels, the videos were specially recorded following the closure of the galleries due to coronavirus. You’ll be offered unique perspectives on the artworks by the Tate’s own experts, and permitted access to the major piece on loan from private and public collections.
Andy Warhol (Tate Modern) – 6 April
This exhibition features more than 100 works from Warhol’s career, with a particular focus on his recurring themes of lust, identity and faith. An accompanying film includes notes on his relationship with his mother, Julia Warhola, and a personal reflection on the artist by his close friend Bob Colacello. There’s even a “how to” video that teaches you how to recreate Warhol’s printing methods at home, part of a series that includes artists such as Rachel Whiteread and Frank Bowling.
Aubrey Beardsley (Tate Britain) – 13 April
A new tour through Beardsley’s exhibition offers insight into his brief but prolific career. Comprising 200 works – the largest collection of his original drawings in 50 years – the video will show Beardsley’s sensual and unnerving black and white images in fantastic detail. An accompanying video shows historian Stephen Calloway and drag artist Holly James Johnston discuss Beardsley’s work in the context of drag and gender.
Virtual gallery tours – our picks
In the case of the Louvre, visiting from the comfort of your own home is probably preferable to trying to snatch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa over the heads of another 200 tourists. Online, you can browse a selection of virtual tours based on the Louvre’s permanent collections, from the Galerie d’Apollon to its impressive Egyptian antiquities. An expandable mini-map allows you to highlight exhibits you want to see with just a few clicks, and there are detailed descriptions for each room.
De Young Museum, San Francisco
Visit a diverse range of sculpture, painting and decorative arts from among the 200 works featured in the Google Art Project. Through the Street View function, users can tour six of the American art galleries, including the De Young museum, with a 3D zoom experience that allows you to learn more from curators via video and audio content.
Museum of Art, Sao Paulo
A world-class permanent collection is available to explore via a number of virtual tours, each of which features more than 1,000 pieces, from Di Cavalcanto to Picasso. You can expand each work to learn more about its history, creator and artistic context.
The Vatican, Rome
The Vatican is host to hundreds of spectacular artworks, history artefacts and superb architecture. From Raphael’s Rooms to the Sistine Chapel, even going on a virtual tour is an impressive experience. If you have a VR headset, you can get an even closer experience, as the tour is compatible with WebVR.
The Metropolitan Museum, New York
The Met’s award-winning series of six short videos affords the kind of access and perspective usually not available to the public. You can choose to have the gallery all to yourself or experience the hustle and bustle via a time-lapsed space… you can even float above the Met’s cloisters for a bird’s-eye view. This is a fantastic opportunity to explore an iconic space in an unprecedented way.
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul
Since it opened in 1969, the Seoul Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art has established itself as an institution focused on celebrating modern art from Korea and overseas. Its four branches include Gwacheon (the main museum), Deoksugung, Seoul and Cheongiu, which opened in January last year.
Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro
Opened in 1937, this 193,750 square foot national museum houses over 70,000 paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures, objects, documents and books, focused on Brazilian art.
The British Museum, London
Check out over two million years of history and culture at London’s British Museum with nearly 50 online exhibitions. From the Rosetta Stone to beautiful textiles in the Sainsbury African galleries, there’s plenty to see.
If you prefer a more interactive experience, you can also try the Museum of the World tour that allows you to browse exhibitions by century, continent or category, from art and design to trade and conflict.
Musée d’Orsay, Paris
The Louvre isn’t the only historic Paris museum with an online tour. With the Musée d’Orsay’s virtual exhibition, you can stroll through opulent architecture and see works by famous French artists including Van Gogh, Monet and Gauguin.
Andrew Lloyd Webber
A series of musicals from theatre icon Andrew Lloyd Webber will be made available online for free while theatres on Broadway and London’s West End are closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Filmed versions of his shows will be uploaded to the YouTube channel The Show Must Go On! each week, where they can be viewed freely for 48 hours. The first musical to appear on the channel is Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat, which went live at 11am on 3 April 2020. The production stars Donny Osmond, Richard Attenborough and Joan Collins.
This will be followed by Jesus Christ Superstar the week after, with Tim Minchin, Melanie C and Chris Moyles in the cast.
6 April: Broadway.com will livestream a reading by Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Zachary Quinto and Ari Graynor of the late Terrence McNally’s acclaimed 1991 play Lips Together, Teeth Apart. Fundraising efforts will benefit the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids’ Covid-19 Emergency Assistance Fund. The livestream will be dedicated to McNally, who died on 24 March from coronavirus complications.
Musicians have really gone above and beyond in an attempt to lift their fans’ spirits during these difficult times. It’s worth keeping an eye on your favourite artists’ social channels, as musicians including Elbow, The National, Christine and the Queens, Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, Glass Animals, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Bastille’s Dan Smith, and Years & Years have been offering shows from home. Here’s just a small selection of the thousands of livestreams and virtual events on offer.
OK, so she’s not actually singing, but Dolly Parton’s live readings of bedtime stories are a great shout if you have younger children (or just if you’re a massive Dolly fan).
If you’d rather watch her perform, her 1969 induction into the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville is available to stream on YouTube, as is her 50th anniversary performance in 2019. The Opry is also offering a glimpse at the Dolly Parton costume exhibition with commentary from her own costume designer.
One World: Together at Home concert
Organised by Lady Gaga and Global Citizen, a charitable organisation, the concert will consist of a six-hour pre-show available to stream online, before a two-hour main event airing both online and on television.
The global special has raised $35m (£38m) benefiting healthcare workers and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Artists scheduled to perform including The Rolling Stones, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Little Mix, Niall Horan, Jennifer Lopez, Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Elton John.
The Independent will be liveblogging the event here.
The Grammy Museum
The Grammy Museum is releasing its digital public programmes with artists including Courtney Barnett, Common, Brandi Carlile, Ben Platt, Andrew Bocelli, and Kool and the Gang.
Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert, a documentary about the annual music festival, will be released on streaming services on 10 April, the date it was supposed to open in cinemas.
Human to Human
Facebook Live will host the benefit event Human to Human on 11 April, from 5pm BST to 5am, with confirmed performances including Grouplove, Jewel, Jensen McRae, Butch Walker, Alex Benjamin, Tori Kelly and more. Proceeds from the event will go to PLUS1’s Covid-19 relief fund in conjunction with MusiCares and Sweet Relief.
The Colors Stream
The Colors Stream is live now, 24 hours a day for 30 days. From 6pm BST to midnight you’ll find new home-recorded sessions by global artists – recent sessions include Glass Animals, Maverick Sabre, Sinead Harnett and Rasharn Powell.
Rough Trade Transmissions
Rough Trade is launching a weekday Instagram TV series, Rough Trade Transmissions.
The Met is hosting regular nightly Met Opera Streams during its coronavirus closure. Each night is a different “complete operatic gem from our collection of HD presentations from the past 14 years”, the venue says. Each night’s new opera begins streaming after midnight GMT and repeats from 8.30pm the next day.
Arthouse cinema chain Curzon has announced a new programme of curated films and digital director Q&As.
Among the filmmakers lined up for talks are Ruben Ostland, Celine Sciamma, Andrew Haigh and Joanna Hogg.
As part of its On Demand service, called Curzon Home Cinema, the cinema chain is also organising simultaneous viewings, where self-isolating cinemagoers are encouraged to all watch the same film at the same time.
The series launched on 27 March – the films will also be available to rent and watch at your convenience.
Focus Features announced the switch of their ongoing Friday Features livestreaming program to Focus Movie Mondays, which launches on Monday 6 April. Every Monday this month, a film will be livestreamed to its Facebook page for free, with a link available to donate to the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Covid-19 response fund. Planned events include a screening watch party of Julian Fellowes’ Academy Award-winning adaptation of Gosford Park, Mallrats with Kevin Smith, and Moonrise Kingdom with an online audience Q&A with director Wes Anderson.