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Visit the Royal Collection Online

Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020.

In these trying times, it may not be possible to visit certain attractions and museums, but you can enjoy a virtual visit and get some background to understand more of the remarkable history of London and beyond.

The Royal Collection is one of the largest and most important art collections in the world, spread among some 15 royal residences and former residences across the UK. Virtual visitors can browse more than 250,000 works of art from the Royal Collection online, enjoy 360-degree tours of palaces and exhibitions, download fun family activities, watch behind-the scenes films and more on the Royal Collection Trust website.

Highlights below include a virtual tour of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, film footage giving a closer look than ever before at the tiny treasures of Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, and curators’ picks of the most extraordinary clocks in the Royal Collection – just in time for the clocks changing in the UK this weekend.

Virtual tours

Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is recognised around the world as the official London residence of Her Majesty The Queen. Developed in collaboration with Google Expeditions, this virtual tour gives users the chance to explore the Palace’s magnificent State Rooms in virtual reality or 360-degree format, and learn more from an expert curator about the treasures from the Royal Collection that furnish each room.

George IV: Art & Spectacle at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace
The most recent exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, George IV: Art & Spectacle explores the life and tastes of arguably the most magnificent of British monarchs. While the Gallery’s doors are temporarily closed, art-lovers can still experience George IV’s unrivalled collection of art through this virtual walkthrough.

Prince & Patron at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace
To mark the 70th birthday of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, visitors to the Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace in 2018 enjoyed a special display featuring a number of works of art personally selected by His Royal Highness. The exhibition can be enjoyed virtually on the Google Arts & Culture website.

Royal Collection behind-the-scenes films

Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020.

Condition checking Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House
Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, a 1:12 scale miniature royal palace designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, has been on display at Windsor Castle for nearly a century. This film goes behind the scenes as curators and conservators carry out a condition check of its structure and contents. One room at a time, each of the Dolls’ House’s 1,000 miniature objects is carefully removed for condition assessment, light cleaning and photography.

Conservation of Queen Victoria’s Throne
Queen Victoria’s State Throne Chair was made for the young queen upon her accession in 1837. In this film curators and conservators explain the throne’s symbolic decorative scheme and demonstrate the techniques used to clean its delicate gold leaf surface. The throne still stands in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace, alongside that of Her Majesty The Queen, and can be seen by the public during the Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace each year.

Japanese Samurai Armour
This film takes a close look at a rare and splendid Japanese samurai armour, sent to James I by Shōgun Tokugawa Hidetada in 1614. Decorated with gold lacquer dragons and lined with silk, it was the first of many lavish diplomatic gifts exchanged between the British and Japanese royal and imperial families. The armour will take centre stage in Royal Collection Trust’s forthcoming exhibition Japan: Courts and Culture at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, which will explore four centuries of diplomatic, artistic and cultural exchanges between Britain and Japan.

A Hidden Musical Surprise
As Royal Collection Trust conservators were restoring a 19th-century silver inkstand in the Royal Collection that had once belonged to Queen Mary, they discovered a tiny musical instrument hidden inside. In this short film, horological conservators restore the intricate miniature mechanism using miniscule tools, so that the inkstand’s enigmatic tune can be heard once again.

Digital catalogues

Queen Victoria’s Journals
The complete collection of Queen Victoria’s journals is available to the public for free in the UK. The 43,000 pages of journal entries give readers a unique insight into Victoria’s own thoughts about her remarkable life and reign – from her first diary entry at the age of 13 to her initial impressions upon meeting ‘beautiful’ Prince Albert three years later; her pride on her coronation day and her last entry just ten days before her death in 1901 aged 81.

Prince Albert: His Life and Legacy
As Consort of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert’s roles in national life included unofficial Private Secretary, a mentor to some of the greatest national projects of his day, and collector and patron of the arts. This website makes available some 23,500 items from the Royal Collection, Royal Archives and Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, shedding new light on Albert’s profound influence on Victorian society.

Georgian Papers Programme
History enthusiasts can explore more than 100,000 documents in the Royal Archives and Royal Library relating to the Georgian period, and can even get involved in this ongoing digitisation project by helping to transcribe handwritten official and personal papers relating to George III, George IV, William IV and more.

Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020.

Up close with paintings in the Royal Collection

Lady at the Virginal with a Gentleman, ‘The Music Lesson’, by Johannes Vermeer
One of just 34 surviving paintings by Vermeer, ‘The Music Lesson’ is enormously popular with visitors to the Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace each year. In this Google Arts & Culture story, users can explore the painting in minute detail and discover more from expert curators about Vermeer’s remarkable techniques, which have earned him the title ‘Master of Light’.

Massacre of the Innocents, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Usually on display in the State Apartments at Windsor Castle, Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s masterpiece brings together multiple narrative scenes to form one larger composition. This Google Arts & Culture story examines each episode one by one and details the changes made to the painting throughout its history to cover up the more disturbing elements of the story.

Activities for children

Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020.

A variety of learning resources for children at nursery, primary and secondary level are freely available on the Royal Collection Trust website, helping parents and teachers to bring the curriculum to life.

Interactive Activities
In an interactive game, Bring on the Battle, children can learn about the siege tactics used to defend Windsor Castle from enemies in medieval times. They’ll also discover what it takes to become a knight and the best way to build and fortify a castle. History pupils can test their knowledge of Henry VIII by playing King of the Castle, revealing how heavy the King’s jousting armour was, and even the unusual things he ate for dinner.

A selection of downloadable worksheets can be printed at home, giving children the opportunity to get creative. Inspired by some of the beautiful objects in the Royal Collection, children can design their own Coat of Arms and paint their own portrait miniatures.

Leonardo da Vinci Schools Resource pack
An extensive resource pack was produced as part of Royal Collection Trust’s nationwide touring exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing in 2019. Developed in consultation with teachers, it contains activities, videos and worksheets that use Leonardo’s drawings as an entry point into a range of subjects, including Maths and Science. Each resource is helpfully matched to Key Stages at both primary and secondary level in the national curriculum for England, Wales and Scotland.

Downloadable publications

Maria Merian’s Butterflies
One of the most extraordinary female artists of her age, Maria Sibylla Merian was an intrepid German artist and scientist who brought the wonders of South America to Europe in the early 18th century. This charming free book brings together 200 of Merian’s dazzling illustrations of the natural world, produced during her travels through Suriname in South America in 1699.

High Spirits: The Comic Art of Thomas Rowlandson
The absurdities of fashion, the perils of love, political machinations and royal intrigue were the daily subject-matter of Thomas Rowlandson, one of the wittiest and most popular caricaturists of Georgian Britain. This free title, featuring almost 100 of Rowlandson’s finest comic works in the Royal Collection, offers a new perspective on an era best known through the novels of Jane Austen.

Curator’s Choice collections

Keeping Time: Clocks in the Royal Collection
The Royal Collection includes hundreds of historical clocks and watches that have been collected by monarchs through the centuries, many of which are among the finest ever made. From musical and organ clocks to complex astronomical clocks, this online collection brings together some of the most extraordinary timepieces in the Royal Collection.

Women Photographers in the Royal Collection
This online collection explores the historical and contemporary importance of women to the creation, study and dissemination of photographs. Users can browse highlights of the Royal Collection’s significant body of work by pioneering women photographers, including works by Frances Sally Day, Julia Margaret Cameron, Alice Hughes, Dorothy Wilding and Annie Leibovitz.

For more information, visit the Royal Collection website here

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