London's three museums in South Kensington - the Natural History, the Science and the Victoria and Albert - are to join Fathom, an online provider of lectures, seminars and performances.
Fathom was created six months ago by Columbia University in the United States - which has committed millions of dollars to the project - and the London School of Economics. Other initial members included Cambridge University Press, the British Library, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, and the New York Public Library.
A second tranche of recruitment added the University of Chicago, the American Film Institute, California-based think-tank RAND and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts.
After its official launch in a fortnight, Fathom will allow users to find linked materials and courses by searching on a keyword, such as "Shakespeare". Users will be able to access articles, lectures and interviews and to take part in online discussions led by academics and curators.
In general, material that is free to museum visitors will be free on the website. However, each partner institution will be able to charge for its online courses, setting its own admission policy, tuition fees and accreditation arrangements.