How The Parthenon Marbles Ended Up In The British Museum

Last month, we delved into a proposal to use digital technology to clone the 2,500-year-old Parthenon Marbles currently housed in the British Museum. The hope is that such uncanny facsimiles might finally convince museum Trustees and the British government to return the originals … | Continue reading | 2 days ago

Neil deGrasse Tyson, High School Wrestling Team Captain, Once Invented a Physics-Based Wrestling Move

We know that Neil deGrasse Tyson was something of a wunderkind during his high school years. If you’re an OC regular, you’ve read all about how Carl Sagan personally recruited Tyson to study with him at Cornell. Deftly, politely, the young Tyson declined and went to Harvard. Ther … | Continue reading | 2 days ago

YouTube & Arizona State University Team Up to Offer Online Courses for Real College Credits

A recent Pew Research Center survey found that nearly one in five American teenagers is on Youtube “almost constantly.” Ten years ago, the figure surely wouldn’t have been that high, and twenty years ago, of course, Youtube didn’t exist at all. But today, no enterprise directed a … | Continue reading | 3 days ago

Beautiful Taschen Art Books on Sale Through Sunday: Hundreds of Books 25%-75% Off

Great news for Open Culture readers. Taschen, the publisher of beautiful art books, is running its biannual warehouse sale. It starts today and runs through Sunday, February 5. This sale gives you the chance to buy art books at nicely discounted prices–anywhere from 25% to 75% of … | Continue reading | 3 days ago

What People Named Their Cats in the Middle Ages: Gyb, Mite, Méone, Pangur Bán & More

“The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,” declares the opening poem in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot. But the possibilities are many and varied: “Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James”; “Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter”; “Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat.” Thing … | Continue reading | 4 days ago

The Rise & Fall of Roman Civilization: Every Year Shown in a Timelapse Map Animation (753 BC -1479 AD)

The Youtuber “EmperorTigerstar” specializes in documenting the unfolding of world historical events by stitching together hundreds of maps into timelapse films. In years past, we’ve featured his “map animations” of the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865), World War I (1914-1918), and Worl … | Continue reading | 4 days ago

The Brooklyn Public Library Gives Every Teenager in the U.S. Free Access to Censored Books

We have covered it before: school districts across the United States are increasingly censoring books that don’t align with conservative, white-washed visions of the world. Art Spiegelman’s Maus, The Illustrated Diary of Anne Frank, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Toni Morrison’ … | Continue reading | 5 days ago

Why We All Need Subtitles Now

We live in an age of subtitles. On some level this is a vindication of the cinephiles who spent so much of the twentieth century complaining about shoddy dubbing of foreign films and public unwillingness to “read movies.” Today we think nothing of reading not just movies but tele … | Continue reading | 5 days ago

Adapting the Unfilmable Story of Pinnochio — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #143

Your Pretty Much Pop A-Team Mark Linsenmayer, Lawrence Ware, Sarahlyn Bruck, and Al Baker discuss the original 1883 freaky children's story by Carlo Collodi and consider the recent rush of film versions, from a new Disney/Robert Zemikis CGI take to Guillermo del Toro's stop-motio … | Continue reading | 5 days ago

Medieval Mixed-Gender Fight Club: Behold Images from a 15th-Century Fighting Manual

Welcome to Medieval Mixed-Gender Fight Club. The first rule of Medieval Mixed-Gender Fight Club is: you do not talk about Medieval Mixed-Gender Fight Club. The second rule of Medieval Mixed-Gender Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Medieval Mixed-Gender Fight Club! Why? The Pub … | Continue reading | 6 days ago

When Leonard Bernstein Turned Candide into an Opera (with Help from Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker & Stephen Sondheim)

The seventeen-fifties found Western civilization in the middle of its Age of Enlightenment. That long era introduced on a large scale the notion that, through the use of rationality and scientific knowledge, humanity could make progress. For the Enlightenment’s true believers, it … | Continue reading | 6 days ago

Coursera Offers $200 Off of Coursera Plus (Until January 31), Giving You Unlimited Access to Courses & Certificates

Note: Just a quick heads up, Coursera’s $200 discount on Coursera Plus ends on January 31, 2023. If you want to take advantage of the deal, you should act soon. A new deal to start a new year: Between now and January 31, 2023, Coursera is offering a $200 discount on its annual su … | Continue reading | 6 days ago

The Two Fridas: An Introduction to Frida Kahlo’s Famous Large-Scale Painting (1939)

One can appreciate the art of Frida Kahlo while knowing nothing of the art of her onetime husband, the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. But the experience of certain of her paintings can be greatly enriched by some knowledge of their relationship, the clearest example being The Two … | Continue reading | 9 days ago

An Immersive, Architectural Tour of New York City’s Iconic Grand Central Terminal

New Yorkers can be a maddeningly closed-mouth bunch, selfishly guarding our secret haunts lest they be overrun with newcomers and tourists… But there’s not much we can do to deflect interest from Grand Central Teminal’s whispering gallery, a wildly popular acoustic anomaly in the … | Continue reading | 9 days ago

Stream 385,000 Vintage 78 RPM Records at the Internet Archive: Louis Armstrong, Glenn Miller, Billie Holiday & More

We may have yet to develop the technology of time travel, but recorded music comes pretty close. Those who listen to it have experienced how a song or an album can, in some sense, transport them right back to the time they first heard it. But older records also have the much stra … | Continue reading | 10 days ago

Liam Neeson Stars as Raymond Chandler’s Legendary Detective Philip Marlowe: Watch the Trailer for the New Film

Behold the new trailer for Marlowe, a new film directed by Neil Jordan. As the title suggests, the film centers around Philip Marlowe, the gumshoe detective that Raymond Chandler first unveiled in The Big Sleep in 1939. Between then and now, Marlowe has been portrayed in films by … | Continue reading | 10 days ago

When Orson Welles Denounced Elia Kazan as a Traitor for Giving Other Filmmakers’ Names to Joe McCarthy (1982)

As we’ve previously noted here on Open Culture, Orson Welles was not given to mincing words about his colleagues. And the older he got, the fewer words he minced, as evidenced by the clip above from a talk he gave at a Paris film school in 1982. During the Q&A, he took a question … | Continue reading | 11 days ago

Download 10,000 of the First Recordings of Music Ever Made, Courtesy of the University of California-Santa Barbara 

Three minutes with the minstrels / Arthur Collins, S. H. Dudley & Ancient City. Edison Record. 1899. Long before vinyl records, cassette tapes, CDs and MP3s came along, people first experienced audio recordings through another medium — through cylinders made of tin foil, wax and … | Continue reading | 11 days ago

Bell Telephone Launched a Mobile Phone During the 1940s: Watch Bell’s Film Showing How It Worked

“Here comes a trailer truck out on the open highway, miles from the nearest town,” says the narrator of the short film above. Suddenly, it becomes “important for someone to get in touch with the drivers of this outfit. How can it be done?” Any modern-day viewer would respond to t … | Continue reading | 12 days ago

Robots Are Carving Replicas of the Elgin Marbles: Could They Help the Real Ancient Sculptures Return to Greece?

Art forgery is a sturdy trope of film and fiction. We’re all familiar with the spectacle of a rarified expert examining a work, while a wealthy collector anxiously wrings their hands nearby. As Maggie Cao observes in the Guardian: Forgeries expose some of the art world’s most psy … | Continue reading | 12 days ago

The Only Footage of Mark Twain: The Original & Digitally Restored Films Shot by Thomas Edison

We know what Mark Twain looked like, and we think we know what he sounded like. Just above see what he looked like in motion, strolling around Stormfield, his house in Redding, Connecticut—signature white suit draped loosely around his frame, signature cigar puffing white smoke b … | Continue reading | 13 days ago

Watch Classic Performances by Yellow Magic Orchestra, the Japanese Band That Became One of the Most Innovative Electronic Music Acts of All Time

Music changes when technology changes. Few musicians have demonstrated as keen an awareness of that fact as Haruomi Hosono, Yukihiro Takahashi, and Ryuichi Sakamoto, who together as Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) burst onto the scene making sounds that most listeners of the late ni … | Continue reading | 13 days ago

The Mystery Finally Solved: Why Has Roman Concrete Been So Durable?

Image by Benjaminec, via Wikimedia Commons Rome may not have been built in a day, but it was built to last — or at least its concrete was, given that the pieces of the Roman Empire that have stood to our time, in one form or another, tend to have been built with it. That […] | Continue reading | 16 days ago

Contribute a Song to WNYC’s Public Song Project & Use Your Creativity to Explore the Public Domain

We recognize that Open Culture readers are a creative bunch. As proof, we point to your Getty Museum Challenge entries and the fact that one of your number won Yale University Press’s Kafka Caption Contest. We’ve identified another opportunity to show off your creative streak, co … | Continue reading | 16 days ago

A Virtual Tour of Ancient Athens: Fly Over Classical Greek Civilization in All Its Glory

If we seek to understand Western civilization, we must look back not just to Rome, but also to Athens. And today, thanks to computer-generated imagery informed by historical research, we can look not just to those cities, but at them — or at least at convincing digital reconstruc … | Continue reading | 17 days ago

Stephen King’s 20 Rules for Writers

Image by the USO, via Flickr CommonsIn one of my favorite Stephen King interviews, for The Atlantic, he talks at length about the vital importance of a good opening line. “There are all sorts of theories,” he says, “it’s a tricky thing.” “But there’s one thing” he’s sure about: “ … | Continue reading | 17 days ago

ChatGPT Writes a Song in the Style of Nick Cave–and Nick Cave Calls it “a Grotesque Mockery of What It Is to Be Human”

Photo by Bleddyn Butcher via Wikimedia Commons Last year, not long before Christmas, everyone on the internet received a shiny new toy in the form of ChatGPT, which by the power of artificial intelligence can near-instantaneously generate most any text one asks it to. And after a … | Continue reading | 18 days ago

Behold Colorful Geologic Maps of Mars Released by The United States Geological Survey

The USGS Astrogeology Science Center has recently released a series of colorful and intricately-detailed maps of Mars. These colorful maps, notes USGS, “provide highly detailed views of the [plantet’s] surface and allow scientists to investigate complex geologic relationships bot … | Continue reading | 18 days ago

The Charles Dickens Illustrated Gallery: A New Online Collection Presents All of the Original Illustrations from Charles Dickens’ Novels

At the height of his fame, Charles Dickens could have commanded any illustrator he liked for his novels. But at the beginning of his literary career, it was he who was charged with accompanying the artist, not the other way around. His first serialized novel The Posthumous Papers … | Continue reading | 19 days ago

The Haunting Paintings of Francisco Goya: A Deep Dive into His Dark, Late Works

Back in October, we featured the first of a planned series of videos on the “Black Paintings” created at the end of Francisco Goya’s life. Last week, the YouTube channel Great Art Explained completed the series and rolled them up into a 51-minute documentary, which you can watch … | Continue reading | 19 days ago

How Futurists Envisioned the Future in the 1920s: Moving Walkways, Personal Helicopters, Glass-Domed Cities, Dream Recorders & More

Many of us now in adulthood first came to know the nineteen-twenties as the decade our grandparents were born. It may thus give us pause to consider that it began over a century ago — and even more pause to consider the question of why its visions of the future seem more exciting … | Continue reading | 20 days ago

Thanks to Artificial Intelligence, You Can Now Chat with Historical Figures: Shakespeare, Einstein, Austen, Socrates & More

By now, we’ve all heard of the recent technological advances that allow us to have plausible-sounding conversations with artificial-intelligence systems. Though near-science-fictionally impressive, such developments have yet to hone in on one particular world-changing application … | Continue reading | 23 days ago

A Creative Animation Tells the Story of Maximilien Robespierre, One of the Most Influential Figures of the French Revolution

Robespierre is an immortal figure not because he reigned supreme over the Revolution for a few months, but because he was the mouthpiece of its purest and most tragic discourse.                                  – François Furet, Interpreting the French Revolution   Cal […] | Continue reading | 23 days ago

Watch Jeff Beck (RIP) Smash His Guitar: A Classic Scene from Antonioni’s Blowup (1966)

Note: With the passing of Jeff Beck, we’re bringing back a vintage post from our archive featuring the early years of the legendary guitarist. You can read his obituary here. Art film and rock and roll have, since the 60s, been soulmates of a kind, with many an acclaimed director … | Continue reading | 24 days ago

An Architect Demystifies the Art Deco Design of the Iconic Chrysler Building (1930)

The Chrysler Building was once the tallest structure in the world — a heyday that ended up lasting less than a year. The loss of that glorious title owed to the completion of the Empire State Building, twelve blocks away, in 1931. But it was all in the spirit of the game, the Chr … | Continue reading | 24 days ago

Humans First Started Wearing Clothes At Least 300,000 Years Ago, New Research Finds

Images courtesy of University of Tuebingen That people wore clothes back in the Stone Age will hardly come as a surprise to anyone who grew up watching The Flintstones. That show, never wholly reliant on established archaeological fact, didn’t get too specific about its time peri … | Continue reading | 25 days ago

A Wooden Artwork That Beautifully Unfolds into a Functional Desk

Robert van Embricqs, a designer based in Amsterdam, has created The Flow Wall Desk–a wooden decoration that “transforms from a piece of art on the wall into a functional desk by showing off its unique aesthetic.” On his site, he writes: The Flow Wall Desk acknowledges the potenti … | Continue reading | 25 days ago

The Oldest Known Sentence Written in an Alphabet Has Been Found on a Head-Lice Comb (Circa 1700 BC)

Image by Dafna Gazit, Israel Antiquities Authority I don’t recall any of my elementary-school classmates looking forward to head-lice inspection day. But had archaeological progress been a few decades more advanced at the time, the teachers might have turned it into a major histo … | Continue reading | 26 days ago

An Introduction to Hokusai’s Great Wave, One of the Most Recognizable Artworks in the World

You need not be a student of Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints to recognize artist Katsushika Hokusai’s Under the Wave Off Kanagawa – or the Great Wave, as it has come to be known. Like Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, it’s been reproduced on all … | Continue reading | 26 days ago

Watch Cher Play All the Major Parts in a 12-Minute Remake of West Side Story (1978)

Cher, the mononymous Goddess of Pop, gifted the small screens of the 70s with a lot of over-the-top glamour. Her work ethic, comedic flair and unapologetic embrace of camp helped her stand out from the crowd, conferring the fame she had longed for since childhood, when she comman … | Continue reading | 27 days ago

Visit the “Cat Islands” of Japan, Where Felines Outnumber Humans

The world has heard much about the aging and shrinking of Japanese society, a process that has created ghost towns like those we’ve previously featured here on Open Culture. But however seriously Japan’s population may be contracting, its love of cats abides undiminished. Hence t … | Continue reading | 27 days ago

Watch Hundreds of Free Movies on YouTube: Golden-Age Classics, International Masterpieces, and Even 21st-Century Hollywood

We lived in the age of movie theaters, then we lived in the age of home video, and now we live in the age of streaming. Like every period in the history of cinema, ours has its advantages and its disadvantages. The quasi-religiosity of the cinephile viewing experience is, arguabl … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Watch David Letterman’s Complete Interview with Volodymyr Zelenskyy

In a special episode of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman, the iconic TV host traveled to Kyiv to interview President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The conversation took place in a protected subway station, in front of a small live audience. About Zelenskyy, Letterm … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

How to Make Ancient Mesopotamian Beer: See the 4,000-Year-Old Brewing Method Put to the Test

The philosopher Giambattista Vico had quite a few ideas, but we remember him for one above all: Verum esse ipsum factum, often shortened to the principle of verum factum. It means, in essence, that we understand what we make. In accordance with verum factum, then, if you want to … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

The Map of Engineering: A New Animation Shows How All of the Different Fields in Engineering Fit Together

In his latest animation, physicist and science writer Dominic Walliman maps out the entire field of engineering and all of its subdisciplines. Civil engineering, chemical engineering, bio engineering, biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, marine e … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Coursera Offers $200 Off of Coursera Plus (Until January 14), Giving You Unlimited Access to Courses & Certificates

A new deal to start a new year: Between now and January 14, 2023, Coursera is offering a $200 discount on its annual subscription plan called “Coursera Plus.” Normally priced at $399, Coursera Plus (now available for $199) gives you access to 90% of Coursera’s courses, Guided Pro … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

What’s Entering the Public Domain in 2023: Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Franz Kafka’s Amerika & More

It’s safe to say that few, if any, of us alive today were doing any movie-going in 1927. But that shouldn’t stop us from recognizing the importance of that year to cinema itself. It saw the release of, among other pictures, The Lodger, with which the young Alfred Hitchcock first … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Joni Mitchell’s Catalog of Albums Now on YouTube: Stream Them Online

2022 – another difficult year for so many – has drawn to a close. While not a remedy for all the hardships and privations we’ve been privy to, Joni Mitchell’s music remains good medicine. Listening to her always makes us feel more connected, reflective and calm for at least an ho … | Continue reading | 1 month ago