Interview to The British Museum


The British Museum is one the most important cultural institutions in the world and, for sure, one of the places you can’t miss when visiting London. That’s why we decided to ask them something about their relationship with Italy and Italian institutions. And if you’re planning a trip to London, have a look at what The British Museum has scheduled for 2015.

- 2013 vs 2014: how was this year for The British Museum?

2013/14 saw great successes in the temporary exhibition programme with nearly half a million visitors to the special exhibition Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, sponsored by Goldman Sachs.

2013/14 saw the opening of the new Sainsbury Exhibitions Centre which housed The BP exhibition Vikings: life and legend. The exhibition has just closed with 288, 351visitors. The new purpose built space will allow us to stage ever more ambitious exhibitions.


- Italians: do you have a lot of Italians visitors? Are there Italians working at The British Museum? Are you working with Italy on any project?

There are a number of projects we are currently or have recently worked on in collaboration with Italian institutions.  Details of these projects are on the BM website:

- Pantarello, unearthing the story of Hadrian’s villa

- Forum Novum/Nescovio

- Corpus of Etruscan mirrors (Corpus spectaculorm Etruscorum)

In addition we regularly loan objects to exhibitions in Italy organised by various institutions and curators will often provide catalogue entries and make other contributions to the exhibitions.  We have also borrowed objects from Italian institutions for exhibitions at the BM, most recently Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneaum and in 2008 Hadrian Empire and Conflict.

We can confirm that ther are currently 20 Italians working in the Museum.


- 2015: projects for the new year

These are the major new exhibitions for 2015 Admission charge.


Germany: memories of a nation

16 October 2014 – 25 January 2015

In a year of many German anniversaries this exhibition uses the 25th anniversary of German reunification to address the significant knowledge gap about German history and culture in Britain, providing visitors with a new insight into Germany’s contribution to world history. The exhibition will draw on objects from a 600 year period to explore the landscape, history, and culture of Germany from the height of the Holy Roman Empire and the age of Gutenberg through to post Cold-War contemporary Germany. Loans from across Germany will reflect the extraordinary shifts of borders and frontiers that define German history, its great, world-changing achievements and its devastating tragedies. The exhibition will feature the work of great German artists, from Riemenschneider, Dűrer and Holbein to Kollwitz, Barlach and Baselitz, as well as a wide range of objects that includes prints and maps, coin and medals, spectacular metalwork from clocks to armour, Meissen porcelain and Bauhaus furniture.


Defining beauty: the body in ancient Greek art

6 March – 22 June 2015 – The Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery

For over two thousand years the Greeks experimented with representing the human body.  From the prehistoric simplicity of Cycladic figurines to the realism of the Hellenistic age, Greek craftsmen gave form to thought in a rich harvest of artworks through which the human condition was explored and interpreted. This exhibition examines Greek interest in human character as well as sexual and social identity.   In athletics, the male body was displayed as if it were a living sculpture, and victors were commemorated by actual statues.  In art, not only were mortal men and women represented, but also the gods and other beings of myth and the supernatural world. They were either conceived in the image of humankind or in monstrous combinations of human and animal form.


Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation

23 April – 2 August 2015

This major exhibition will present a history of Indigenous Australia through objects for the first time in the UK. Drawing on objects from the British Museum’s collection, supported by loans from Australia, the show will highlight the continuous culture of Indigenous Australia dating back 55,000 years.Indigenous Australian objects reflect a complex spiritual relationship to the natural world and an intimate knowledge of diverse environments. The objects derive from some of the earliest contact between Indigenous Australians and outsiders and represent significant cultural encounters in or near places that are today major Australian cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. The exhibition also reflects on the history of collecting these objects and contemporary Indigenous responses to them.


Celts (title TBC)

24 September 2015 – 31 January 2016 – The Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery

This will be the first major exhibition of Celtic art in Britain in 40 years. It will draw on the latest research on the Celts in Britain, Ireland and Western Europe and explore the long history of Celtic art and what that the objects tell us about the people who made and used them. “Celts” and “Celtic art” are terms which are widely used in many different contexts. They do not all relate to the same thing – and in particular, they do not relate to any single people or culture. This exhibition will explore how making and using Celtic art has shaped identities from the Iron Age through to the Medieval period, and how these powerful objects and styles have continued to play a role in creating modern Celtic identities in Britain. The first Celtic art in Britain is part of a clear western and central European tradition, but it is also distinctly British. Later the art helped defined new complex and shifting Celtic identities in Britain that were neither Roman nor Anglo Saxon/English. The rediscovery of the ancient artistic tradition in the 18th and 19th centuries played a key role in creating new images of the Celts. These new descriptions by artists and politicians helped define what it meant to be Irish, Welsh, Scottish and British. This artistic tradition and the objects it produced have always been intimately linked with questions around the identity of the Celtic peoples who made these objects.


New exhibitions and displays for 2015 – Free admission

Bonaparte and the British: prints and propaganda in the age of Napoleon

5 February – 16 August 2015 Room 90, Prints and Drawings Gallery

This exhibition will focus on the printed propaganda that either reviled or glorified Napoleon Bonaparte, on both sides of the English Channel. It explores how his formidable career coincided with the peak of political satire as an art form. 2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo – the final undoing of brilliant French general and emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821). The exhibition will include works by British and French satirists who were inspired by political and military tensions to exploit a new visual language combining caricature and traditional satire with the vigorous narrative introduced by Hogarth earlier in the century.

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