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Five online museum collections to see you through Lockdown II

From photographs to steam trains and furniture to ceramics, here are five online museum collections we love

IWM Collections

photo of soldier sat on large gun with cigar

Leading Seaman Alfred Charles Dennis of Plymouth enjoys a Victory cigar. He is indicating his approval not only with the quality of the cigar but with the occasion the photograph was taken, on board HMS SHAH on the day the Japanese capitulated (15 August 1945). © IWM A 30203

Since the museum’s founding just over a century ago in the midst of World War One, the Imperial War Museum has collected millions of photos, objects and documents relating to conflict in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Their online collection search serves up around 800,000 of these items telling the story of modern war and conflict. A selection of images from the institution’s 11 million-strong collection of photographs covering official, press and personal perspectives reveal the stories, challenges and friendships forged in the shadow of war.

Visit the online collection: https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections


Glasgow Museums collections

Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed chair with black upholstered seat and backrest in wooden columns

Chair for the Music Room of Hous’hill, Nitshill. Stained sycamore with glass inset and modern upholstered drop in seat. Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1904 for Miss Catherine Cranston. Made by Alex Martin, 1904.

Bringing together the collections of Glasgow’s museums in one central resource, the Glasgow Life online collection site showcases one of the finest collections in Europe. Featuring objects from the city’s seven museums and resource centre, the city’s collections span many themes and thousands of years.

You can browse the site by theme to explore human history from 700,000BC to today, an internationally significant art collection spanning around a thousand years, an extensive transport and technology collection and 2,800 million year old natural history specimens. Or simply browse by museum to explore everything from the Glasgow Style at Kelvingrove Museum to Glaswegian life at the People’s Palace Museum.

Visit the online collection: https://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/collections


Birmingham Museums Trust’s Digital Image Resource

painting of three reclining figures in gold draped dresses

Dreamers, 1882. Artist: Albert Joseph Moore

Birmingham Museums Trust is well known for caring for an enviable collection of Pre Raphaelite paintings, drawings and prints. The collection is not limited to this however; there is also a fine collection of applied arts, natural history, antiquities, science and industry and more to be explored through the digital image resource.

The site also features a wealth of objects relating to the social and local history of Birmingham and beyond, and includes sections dedicated to photos of the Castle Bromwich Aeroplane Factory, objects and sketches from F&C Osler Glass Manufacturers and archive photos and plans of the museum building itself.

The only UK collection making all of its out-of-copyright artworks available for free under a public domain licence, it’s the perfect port of call if you fancy channelling Cold War Steve and creating your own tongue-in-cheek collages.

Visit the online collection: http://dams.birminghammuseums.org.uk


Welcome Collection collections online

Buddhhist Wheel of Life illustration

Yama holding the wheel of life. Distemper painting. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

The history of medicine around the world is a long, unusual and often gruelling subject. Exploring health and human experience through the ages, the Wellcome Collection’s aims to challenge how we think and feel about health.

A repository for all things medical, the collection features all sorts of weird and wonderful objects and illustrations. Where else can you see a gruesome medicinal leech, a splendidly illustrated Buddhist Wheel of Life diagram and a 1900s advertisement for high-class artificial teeth?

Thousands of the Wellcome Collection’s images, artworks and archives are available to search via its website where you can explore thousands of years of human history through the health and medicine of different cultures.

Visit the online collection: https://wellcomecollection.org/collections


Ashmolean Museum collection online

rock crystal in gold filigree surround with enamelled design of a figure behind

Alfred Jewel, North Petherton, Somerset AD 871–899. Gold, enamel and rock crystal, 6.2 x 3.1 x 1.3 cm. Presented by Colonel Nathaniel Palmer, 1718. Image © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford | AN1836 p.135.371

A terrific collection exploring human history across the globe, the Ashmolean Museum is part of the University of Oxford. Founded in 1683 the museum was Britain’s first public museum and today it has a world-famous collection of art and archaeology.

Nearly 200,000 objects are online to explore and you can either take a dip into a treasures section to view a curator-chosen selection of the museum’s star objects or dive straight into the collection search and discover your own treasures.

There’s even a handy timeline feature, so whether you’re interested in first century ceramics, 15th century coins or 20th century prints you’ll be able to find something that speaks to you.

Visit the online collection: https://collections.ashmolean.org/

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