Treasures of the World's Cultures

The Great Collections: The British Museum

30 November 2012 to 7 April 2013

The exhibition brings together more than 250 unique objects from the collections of the British Museum. With works from every part of the world and from all ages, it opens a window onto two million years of human culture and history and on the extraordinary wealth of the collections of the British Museum, built over the last 250 years.

The objects presented in the first six sections of the exhibition speak of the civilisations and the history of the world’s great geographical regions: Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Americas, Oceania and Europe. The last section, The Modern World, focuses on works of contemporary art from across the globe that reflect the concerns of our modern age. The juxtaposition of objects from different cultures and eras will enable visitors to compare and contrast the varied patterns of life of different peoples and societies. Moreover, it will reveal how made objects we consider to be ‘treasures’ can embody ideas and concerns common to all humanity: religion and faith, politics and power, economic and technological progress, artistic expression and social activity.

The British Museum was founded by an Act of Parliament in 1753 as the world’s first national public museum. A monument to the Age of Enlightenment, the pioneering institution was designed to promote knowledge and understanding of the world. The extraordinary collection of natural history specimens and human-made objects bequeathed to the British nation by the physician and naturalist Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753) provided its foundation. Originally housed in Montagu House in central London, since the mid-nineteenth century the collection has been held in the famous Greek-Revival building designed by Sir Robert Smirke (1780–1867). Over time, the natural history collections and the library were transferred to newly founded specialist institutions, the focus of the BM became the acquisition, preservation and interpretation of material culture – from the earliest known human artefacts to the works of living societies.

Today the British Museum holds a collection of over 7 million objects and is one of the greatest resources in the world for the study of human cultures.

Treasures of the World’s Cultures is presented as  part of the successful series of exhibitions devoted to the ‘Great Collections’, inaugurated twenty years ago with a presentation of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Over the last two decades, the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany has hosted a great many of the world’s leading museums, among them the Moderna Museet Stockholm, the Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples, the Musée du Petit Palais, Paris, the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, and the National Palace Museum, Taipei. After Art and Design for All, an exhibition about the history of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Treasures of the World’s Cultures is the second exhibition devoted to a major British institution.

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  1. Image from ExhibitionPhoto: David Ertl © Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland

Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland

Museumsmeile Bonn
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