This month we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Great Court, so Sian and Francesca head to the archives to find out more about the building of this incredible space. Also from the archives we have an interview with Rentakill hawker Laura alongside Stella the Harris hawk, who used to frequent the Museum to try and rid the outside spaces of pesky pigeons. Curator Irving Finkel also talks about the history of chess and backgammon in excerpts first recorded for the Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic world.
This month Hugo and Sushma check in with Amber Lincoln, lead curator of the Citi exhibition ‘Arctic: culture and climate’. They talk with Rachel King, curator of European Renaissance, about the Waddesdon Bequest and a special display of a 19th-century ewer. Finally, archaeologist Sebastien Rey describes a beautiful fragment that was illegally excavated in Iraq, that will be repatriated in December.
This month hails Hugo and Sushma’s triumphant return – they are talking with Sandra Smith, head of Collection Care about how your breath helps objects in the galleries. Sushma chats with Imma Ramos, lead curator of our new Tantra exhibition, and Sian and Francesca meet in the archives once again to talk about the staff canteen, of all things.
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.
The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition falls on 23 August.
To mark this date, Hartwig Fischer and Sushma Jansari are joined by guests Olivette Otele and Bonnie Greer to discuss the legacies of slavery, its impact on today’s society, and how museums should respond to these histories both now and in the future.
The wide-ranging conversation touches on how the British Museum engages with its own history, how it was shaped by empire, questions who ‘writes’ history, and reflects on how museums and institutions can widen access, increase diversity and co-curate effectively.
Bonnie Greer is a writer, playwright, broadcaster, critic and political commentator, and former Deputy Chair of the British Museum.
Olivette Otele is Professor of the History of Slavery at Bristol University and Vice-President of the Royal Historical Society and the Chair for Bristol’s Race Equality Commission.
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.
During this challenging time, we’re bringing inspiring stories of humanity’s shared histories and cultural achievements to millions of people online. Your support ensures that we can continue to make the collection and programmes like this one available to as many people as possible. If you can, please donate today: http://ow.ly/1e1Y30qHebG
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.
In honour of Women’s History month Hugo and Sushma are exploring how women have interacted with the museum since its opening in 1759. In the archives, Sian and Francesca discuss some of the earliest female researchers and scholars, as well as a libel case relating to the much-slandered pioneering feminist Victoria Woodhull who ran for the American Presidency in 1872. Hugo chats with Alexandra (otherwise known as Sally) Fletcher about her archaeological career and its connection with pioneering archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon.
This month Hugo and Sushma meet Stuart Frost – the Museum’s Head of Interpretation and Volunteers – to discuss how we create narratives around the collection and how volunteers are vital in supporting the work of the Museum. In the archives, Sian and Francesca look at the history of clubs and societies for Museum staff. For object of the month, Jill Cook – Deputy Keeper of Prehistory and Europe – talks about a stone tool from the original collection of the Museum’s founder Sir Hans Sloane.
Alexandra Villing, curator of the BP exhibition Troy: myth and reality talks with classicist Natalie Haynes about the wives, mothers, seers, queens, and goddesses at the heart of the Trojan myth.
The BP exhibition Troy: myth and reality is open until 8 March. To book your tickets visit: https://bit.ly/2Rj2Ula
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.