It's important for our mental and physical wellbeing to stay active and inspired while in coronavirus lockdown.

As we said recently, while we are in isolation, the arts and culture are more important to us than ever. They comfort us, connect us and keep us well. While we may not be able to go out to visit museums and galleries right now, there are thousands of creative and cultural experiences accessible from the comfort of our couches. We've put together a handy list of some of our favourites to give you an idea of what's out there.

Gallery visitor

1. Visit some of the best museums and galleries in the world

There’s no need to go outside, no need to queue and push through the crowds. Take a bit of time for yourself and enjoy a private tour of a world-class museum.

You can also visit thousands of galleries, museum collections and exhibits from around the world via Google Arts & Culture

And Londonist put together a great list of all the top London exhibitions you can visit virtually right now.

Explore and learn about some of the artists and artworks in the Paintings in Hospitals collection via our collection highlights series.

2. Create something

The benefits of creating art, in any medium, are well-known and backed up by research. You don't have to be a master, it's the act of trying that counts.  

  • 64 Million Artists are trialling two weeks of fun, free and accessible creative challenges to do at home
  • Bluprint is offering a two-week free trial for its arts and crafts classes. Everything from drawing and painting to cake decorating and woodworking.
  • Well-known illustrators are posting free classes. Dozens of museums and libraries are offering free downloadable colouring books. Quentin Blake is offering some illustrations that need finishing off and colouring in via his website.
  • Want to sharpen up your writing or finally get that book down on paper? Here are 90 free online writing courses.
  • Playwright Nick Green launched the Social Distancing Festival to shine a spotlight on lost projects. has received hundreds of submissions from around the world.

This week Arts Council England and BBC Arts announced a £250,000 #CultureinQuarantine fund to help artists create new video, audio and interactive works from self-isolation.

3. Join a book club

Book clubs are a great way to relieve stress and they could even extend our lives a little, according to a study from the British Medical Journal. Take a look at these for starters. And if you don’t fancy any of them, you could always start your own!

  • A Public Space have started a virtual book club to take on War and Peace one day at a time. #TolstoyTogether
  • Goodreads has many book clubs covering all genres.
  • The Guardian’s monthly reading group
  • Robert MacFarlane has started the #CoReadingVirus book club on Twitter

Time put together a great list of ten book clubs to join – and how to start your own!

Rows of seating at a venue. Attending live music concerts has been found to extend our lifepsan.

4. Get the best seats in the house at the theatre / opera / ballet / concert

Attending music concerts and similar activities have been found to significantly boost our mental wellbeing and could even extend our lifespan.

  • National Theatre Live productions will soon be available to watch for free on YouTube on Thursdays.
  • Royal Opera House is streaming free ballet and opera online via Facebook and YouTube.
  • The Royal Shakespeare Company together with Marquee TV are offering a free trial allowing people to watch 18 productions for free.
  • Deluxe, the dance piece by BalletBoyz, will be the first in a series of additions to Sadler’s Wells’ free digital stage.
  • The online music festival Sofa King Fest is a directory of streaming performances designed to minimise quarantine boredom while providing a platform to raise money for artists and music industry professionals.

5. So much more!

  • The Sofa Singers is a weekly session bringing people together to learn and sing as a virtual choir.
  • ‘Fill your ears with art’:  The Art Newspaper has put together a list of the top culture podcasts to listen to during the coronavirus lockdown.
  • Still got that guitar hanging around? What about free guitar lessons?

Honestly, there is so much on offer, with more and more appearing all the time, that we can’t possibly keep up. We highly recommend searching Twitter and other social platforms on hashtags such as #creativeconnections and #CultureinQuarantine to find all the people out there offering creative classes, challenges, exercises and more both for free (if you’re unable to afford it) and paid (to support the artists and arts professionals providing them).

Banner image: Neeta Madahar, Sustenance 104, 2003. Part of the Paintings in Hospitals collection. 

This photograph is from a series called ‘Sustenance’ by the artist-photographer Neeta Madahar. The series records the feeding activity of birds over the space of a year, as shot from Neeta’s balcony. Find out more.