This month Sushma returns to presenting, talking with Maria Bojanowska, Dorset Foundation Head of National Programmes – they discuss the many ways the British Museum makes the collection accessible nationwide. Food historian Tasha Marks is back, this time taking a sip of history and looking at how afternoon tea came to be, and finally Lead Archaeologist Sebastien Rey gives an insight into which object he is most excited to see now that the Museum has reopened.
In 1753, Sir Hans Sloane bequeathed his collection of over 70,000 objects to the nation, founding the British Museum’s collection, and those that would become the British Library and Natural History Museum.
His collection spanned from natural history specimens to ancient sculpture, plants and contemporary 18th-century objects. But Sloane’s collecting is tied closely to colonialism, empire and slavery – his family profited from sugar plantations in Jamaica worked by enslaved people, and some of the objects in his collection were also collected with assistance from enslaved people. So how do we navigate Sloane’s story in the 21st century?
Guests Miranda Lowe and James Delbourgo explore Sloane’s life, collecting and legacy with Hartwig Fischer and Sushma Jansari, and examine the role of slavery and enslaved people in his collection and collecting practices. They also consider how museums should respond to these histories and to figures like Sloane.
Miranda Lowe is Principal Curator and museum scientist at the Natural History Museum.
James Delbourgo is the James Westfall Thompson Distinguished Professor of History at Rutgers University, New Jersey.
This month we are doing something a little bit different, find out more in this special announcement!
This month we're talking food history and Renaissance art. First up, Hugo talks to Alexandra Fletcher about the unlikely (to some!) combination of archaeology and ice cream. Inspired by this, and as the weather heats up, we asked food historian Tasha Marks to delve deeper into the history of ice cream. Curator Jamie Fraser also gives us an overview of the significance and production of olive oil in the ancient Levant, and Hugo pays homage to Raphael to mark the 500th anniversary of the artist's death.
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This month Sushma is on furlough leave but Hugo and Sian interview Head of Collection Management Leonora Baird Smith about caring for the collection in lockdown. Dr Janina Ramirez talks about scripting her love letter to the Museum for the BBC Four ‘Museums in Quarantine’ documentary series, and Clive Gamble, renowned archaeologist and former Museum Trustee, discusses how humans became a global species and how we use objects to stay in touch.
This month Hugo, Sushma (pre-furlough) and Sian talk about how lockdown is affecting them and their work. Curator Sarah Vowles gives us some in-depth insight into a monumental map of Venice made over 500 years ago by Jacopo de’ Barbari (a zoomable image of which can be found on our revamped Collection online at britishmuseum.org/collection). Volunteer Mariu Huriaga talks about her experience of giving tours all around the Museum for over two decades.
Unlucky for some, episode 13 of the Museum podcast sees the Museum closed for the first time since the war, but fear not – the podcast soldiers on. This month Hugo and Sushma look at an area of work that is dear to all of our hearts: equality and diversity. Curator Gareth Bereton presents the object of the month: the beautiful and enigmatic Standard of Ur. There’s no archive section this month as Francesca has been poorly, so we wish her a hearty get well soon.
Hugo and Sushma kick off 2020 with an interview with the Museum’s director, Hartwig Fischer. In the archives, Francesca and Sian take a look at the history of the Hirayama Paper conservation studio.
From us to you, a very British Museum Christmas gift: we invited twelve colleagues across the Museum to tell us about their favourite objects and gathered their responses into a special Christmas compendium. Hear all about the objects that they find inspiring, and the stories behind them.
Sushma Jansari – the Mathura lion capital (Room 33)
Elizabeth Morrison –the Folkton Drums (Room 51)
Sian Toogood – Greek slingshot (Room 69)
Ros Winton – Ancient Egyptian model (Room 65)
Tess Sanders – the Assyrian Lion hunt reliefs (Room 10)
Lee Roberts – Painted Japanese screen (tigers crossing a river) (Room 92)
Nick Harris – Japanese hand grenade casings in (Room 94)
Francesca Hillier – Palmerston gold cups (Room 47)
Alfie Meek – the Alfie lions (Room 47)
Russ McKeown – Portrait of late director Lord Wolfenden (not on display)
Richard Wakeman – the Vindolanda tablets (Room 50)
Hugo Chapman – Samuel Palmer watercolour (Prints and Drawings Study Room)
Laura Osorio Sunnucks, head of the Santo Domingo Centre of Excellence for Latin American Research, joins Hugo and Sushma to talk about Amazonian objects. In the Money gallery, Tom Hockenhull introduces a communist poster from 1990, and Francesca and Sian are back in the archives to explore Museum blueprints.
Hugo and Sushma leave the cosy confines of the office and head into the basements to meet with Dan O’Flynn and his X-ray machine. Francesca Hillier scours the Trustees’ minutes to talk ‘modesty boards’ and the Museum’s first female curator. Object of the month is an exclusive piece of audio from ‘Decoded’ – an upcoming video series on our YouTube channel.