Writing in the Virtual Museum

Original ideas, atmospheric settings, intriguing but convincing characters – some of the hallmarks of great writing. But where do they come from? These days, we don’t need to leave our desk to find them!.

You might want to look back 150 million years to the Archaeopteryx (literally ancient wing) which captures the transition of species from dinosaur to bird, or forward to the climate-changed world of 2050 via Dubai’s Museum of the Future.

Whether your fiction is historical or speculative, everyday gritty or hyper-real, you’ll have a chance to discover how these collections can help you at all stages of the writing process, from initial ideas for character and plot, to all important telling detail. Need to know how much a Morocco leather pocket book cost in 1807? Visit the Museum of Writing…

Using examples from contemporary fiction, like this 17th Century doll’s house from Amsterdam’s Rijks Museum, the inspiration for Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist, we’ll look at the museums behind the scenes of bestselling books.

In this workshop we’ll explore a range of creative sources of inspiration, from scientific innovations to historic letters, diaries and photographs which can spark original ideas, lend conviction to your fiction and keep your writing lively and vivid – all of them waiting for you in virtual collections.

Whether you’re looking to experience the Vatican in 360 degree immersion or keen to study Einstein’s handwriting, you’ll find plenty of inspiration in this virtual cabinet of curiosities. Making the most of the global resources available online, you’ll be introduced to curated collections and archived material ranging from the ancient to the fantastic – a virtual treasure-trove of inspiration, that will not only spark ideas, but help to make your writing authentic and convincing.

We’ll look at how real lives have informed fiction, inspiring books as well as tv series and films, and explore how to unearth characters who’ll demand to have their stories told.

The aim is to leave you bursting with ideas for using virtual museums and galleries, archives and world heritage sites as resources for your writing. All from the comfort of home!! 

Kim Lasky’s writing has been inspired by things as diverse as Newton’s experiments and the letters of Ada Lovelace. Her collection Petrol, Cyan, Electric, shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award, features poems that began life in the Science Museum and the Herschel Museum in Bath. Eclipse, a Templar iOTA Shot, was informed by a residency in the Physics and Astronomy Department at Sussex University. She’s currently writing a novel inspired by Joseph Wright of Derby’s painting ‘Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump’, for which she’s plundered Darwin’s letters, become obsessed with the Natural History Museum’s cabinet of hummingbirds, and learned about taxidermy from the Booth Museum.