Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The coronavirus pandemic and social distancing have catalyzed a wave of free online cultural and educational programming.

Between the lines: As states extend their shutdowns and lockdowns, free online opportunities for cultural and educational enrichment are finding an audience that's eager for new intellectual pursuits.

What's happening:

  • Ivy League schools are offering a combined 450 free online courses, and many other universities around the world are also putting popular courses online for free. Some 1.5 million people have already registered for Yale's famous happiness course.
  • New York's Museum of Modern Art is offering free classes that include "What is contemporary art?" and "Fashion as design."
  • The Barnes in Philadelphia borrowed a page from restaurants' playbook to launch "Barnes Takeout," a series of short online lectures that focus on a single work of art.
  • From symphony halls to Broadway theaters, performance venues are streaming past performances and informational talks.
  • If the life of the mind gets to be too much, high-end gyms and exercise programs have made headlines for offering free online videos, too.

The bottom line: There are perhaps more ways than ever before for people to enrich their lives, culturally and intellectually, online for free — whether they are looking for a 40-hour course or a short video on art history for their lunch break.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

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