12 May 2020

Keep well with creative activities at home, part 1

Did you know that doing something creative or engaging with culture and heritage, can transform your health and wellbeing?

At Birmingham Museums, we’ve been running programmes using our fantastic collections, venues and outside spaces for several years, all designed to help people try something different to improve their wellbeing. While so much of the world is in lockdown, and many of us are feeling more anxious and isolated than before, we wanted to share a few creative ideas that you can do from home.

We’ve tried all these activities during on our programmes, and you can see some fantastic examples that people have made with us below. We run programmes for everyone from little babies through BMAG Babies, to adults, including through our Creative Carers Programme which gives carers a little breathing space through creativity. There’s no age or experience limit for creativity, so the activities below are suitable for all ages, and there’s no right or wrong way to do them!

None of these ideas require many materials, so we hope you can try them out from home. We’ve also included links to our online collections portal, so you can be inspired by some of Birmingham Museums Trust’s fantastic objects and artworks – you can browse our collections on our Digital Image Resource.

We’d love you to share what you do with us – you can tag us on Twitter @BMTEngage or share what you’ve made with us by emailing your photos to and we’d love you to enter our annual art competition, Inspire, too! Inspire is open to all ages, and all art forms, so why not try out a few new techniques, and then submit your artwork around the theme of ‘what I can see’ – you can find out more at our Inspire 20 competition blog. 

We’ll be sharing more creative activities in the next few weeks, so keep watching out for more creative ideas! You can also find out about how we’re keeping in touch with some of our groups on our Creative carers goes virtual blog post. We’d like to thank the artists Tina Francis, Claire Leggett, Amy Hoult, and Rita Patel for Creative Health, for letting us share their creative ideas over the next few weeks.

Enjoy these ideas and take a few minutes to let your mind switch off as you get creative.

Mandala drawing

At one of our Creative Carers sessions, we sewed mandala-like patterns – geometric patterns used in many faiths to focus and clear the mind. Creating repeating patterns can be very relaxing, and you can use any artform or material you like – no need to sew!

Sewn Mandala activity


  • Draw around a plate or cup, and divide your circle into sections. If you don’t fancy a circle, you can draw out a square and divide it into sections.
  • Use different materials that you have to hand. You could collect leaves or petals from the park or garden, use felt-tip pens or doodle with a biro, cut up magazines, or old wrapping paper. Try to repeat the same pattern or shape in each section of your design, to create symmetry.

Be inspired…

  • Birmingham Museums has thousands of decorative buttons in its collections. Search our online Digital Image Resource for buttons to see examples of circular patterns to try.
  • For rectangular geometric patterns, why not look at the amazing designs on the Pietra Dura table.

on the Pietra Dura table and button
Pietra Dura table (left) and decorative button (right).

Abstract dot pictures

For all those people (including me!) who say they can’t paint or draw, everyone can do a dot! You can experiment with different patterns, dot sizes and colours to either create an abstract pattern or a picture.

Two abstract dot paintings


  • Think about what you can use to make dots. Try felt pens or pencils, or if you have paint, dip cotton buds, bottle tops and the end of pencils in paint to get different size dots. Cut up or hole punch paper circles or just get doodling and draw circles.

Be inspired…

  • The Romans are famous for their mosaics – pictures made up of thousands of tiny shapes (called tesserae). Take a look on our Digital Image Resource at a mosaic in our collection. Stand back from your dot picture when it’s finished and see if it looks different when the dots merge together.

Tesserae from Roman mosaic
Tesserae from a Roman mosaic.

Collage postcards

Staying in touch in any way we can is important at the moment. Be inspired by some of the historic postcards in our collection to make your own postcard to send on. You could try drawing, painting or collaging. Why not download your favourite images from DAMS to collage and send on to a friend?

Group of collage postcards


  • Cut a piece of card to A5 size and collage with images from magazines or printed from the internet.

Be inspired…

  • Search our online Digital Image Resource for your favourite subjects – birds, gardens, buildings, furniture, dodos, everything red… print them out or use an online collage maker to create an image to email.
Greetings Card, 1857-1865

Greetings Card, 1857-1865.