As many of you will know, I am a big fan of the British Museum! Today the museum turns 255!
One of my first posts was a review of Grayson Perry’s pilgrimage exhibition.
I was lucky enough to see the Terracotta Army exhibition back in 2007. That was one if the first exhibitions in the former reading room I believe. The space is bigger than you imagine, and the decorative interior of the ceiling is made of papier mache!
One of the most surprising exhibitions I saw was the ice age art. If I hadn’t have been a member I probably wouldn’t have gone to see the exhibition but I am glad I did. You will find the review in my archive.
I always found the museum very relaxing. When stressed and anxious I find that walking through the galleries and looking at human achievements helps put my mind in order and perspective.
I respect the conservation and care this institution has for the millions of exhibits in its custodian, including the Elgin Marbles. I also firmly believe controversially or not that the British museum should continue to care for these stunning marbles. If they had been left in Greece they would not be the condition they are and with the poor economy (to put it mildly) heritage sectors are the first to suffer. Maybe in the future they could be returned but at precident I feel we should continue to care for them.
Returning the marbles would also set an uncomfortable presidency, if we return the elgins would the British Museum and other Museums national and international alike be forced to return other artefacts? The Rosetta Stone, the Egyptian statues? What would the museum have left?
The Museum shows use British Imperial and exploration history, some of that history is hard to swallow but we have made up for it through knowledge gleaned from the museum pieces and caring for them in some of the most skilled curators hands in the world.
We live in a different world and we would not behave as we did 255. Today historic artefacts are more likely to be abused and sold on the black market and kept in private collections than kept in an institution so that they can be enjoyed by many, can teach use their secrets and cared for properly.
I for one hope that the British museum continues to be the amazing space free to all, preserving world history and show casing marvels of various worlds cultures and histories.