Over half of the British Museum’s collection is now available to be viewed online, as part of a collection to boost the morale of people under lockdown amid the coronavirus outbreak.
In the biggest update to the museum’s online collection since it was established in 2007, 280,000 new object photographs and 85,000 new object records have been published. This includes 73 portraits by Damien Hirst, a previously lost watercolour by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and a 3,000-year-old Bronze-age pendant.
The museum said it brought forward the online unveiling “so that people who are currently under lockdown measures due to Covid-19 can enjoy the treasures from one of the world’s great collections from the comfort of their own home”.
At the same time, it introduced new zoom technology, which allows viewers to "see objects on a level of detail inaccessible to the naked eye".
Last month, the museum announced it would close as the pandemic spread across the UK and the country entered into a virtual lockdown.
“The British Museum Collection Online makes millions of objects accessible to the citizens of the world, wherever they might be," said Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum.
"Whether you are a student, an artist, a scholar or are a lover of history and culture, this is an unparalleled resource to explore the richness, diversity and complexity of human history contained in the British Museum’s collection.
"It is also a platform where we can share the latest knowledge and research. 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.”
Among the British Museum’s collection are a vast array of objects from Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, and English coins from the Tudor period.
The museum’s most famous objects, such as the Rosetta Stone, the Cyrus Cylinder and the artefacts of Sutton Hoo, are also already available to view online.