This study examines the discourse emerging from cultural heritage content shared online during the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to understand the different affective and cognitive dynamics that are associated with the online sharing of cultural heritage in difficult times. To do so, we analyzed two Instagram hashtags-#ShareOurHeritage and #ShareCulture - that are promoted by UNESCO on a global scale. We applied a comprehensive quantitative method for qualitative data analysis. This method relied on Latent Dirichlet Allocation for topic modeling to generate automated induction of semantic topics and understand the underlying cognitive and affective dimensions of Instagram posts under each topic. Social values- including safety, inclusion, participation, and resilience - positive emotional language, and diverse cultural expressions were the most shared by the investigated hashtag community during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, results showed that users approach the virtual space as a substitute for the loss of their physical place through terms like home, virtual, online, travel tomorrow, and museums from home. Results are discussed in the context of the global digital divide, the social value of heritage to hashtag communities, and the use of Instagram as a longitudinal record of how cultural heritage values change across time.