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Travel the world, stay indoors

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David Prudames, British Museum David Prudames, British Museum | 10:25 UK time, Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Visiting the museumWith the first part of A History of the World still ringing in our ears, Neil MacGregor's words are clearly inspiring many of you to come to the British Museum and see the stars of the show: from the small, intimate lovers figurine, to the colossal - and frankly intimidating - statue of Ramesses II.

We occasionally get asked by visitors whether the Museum is intending to display all of the 100 objects in one room. We know it would make a great exhibition but, as lead curator JD Hill explained, we think there is an even better way to see objects from the series.

Our intention was never to put all the objects together in one room. It was always to show them throughout the Museum so that you can see other objects from the same cultures or part of the world.

So, you'll find the first 30 objects - from part one of the series - across galleries that display other objects from the same time, place, or culture. By seeing the objects like this, you get the chance to find the bigger story that each of them has to tell - much like you hear from Neil on Radio 4.

The curatorial team that selected the final objects from the millions of items we have in the collection did it so we could spin the globe at certain moments in the last two million years and see what was going on in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and across the Pacific.

Here at the Museum you'll find these objects, but through them you can discover another 100, or 1,000 (or even more), each telling another part of the story of how us humans got to where we are today.

You could start in one of the ancient Egypt galleries, and from there cross the Red Sea into the next room to see objects from the Middle East. From there, you can move into Europe by way of the ancient cultures that linked the civilisations of Mesopotamia and Greece. Then maybe hop over the Atlantic, or breeze across the Indian Ocean... I could go on.

You can genuinely travel the world at the British Museum - either on site, online or on air - and it's all free. You'll have to cover some ground but whoever said telling, or indeed discovering, a history of the entire world was easy?

  • The photo is by Benedict Johnson © Trustees of the British Museum

What do you think? Add a comment


  • Comment number 1.

    From our three visits to the British Museum this year, David, I would estimate that the series is adding a lot of visitors, although not quite all two (or ten) million Radio 4 listeners. You never know, one day you might even compete with the Louvre.

  • Comment number 2.

    Museums are great places to visit during the cold winter months - lets see if attendances stay on the up during spring/summer

  • Comment number 3.

    My husband was lucky enough to go to the British Museum last week and see each of the 30 items "on the hoof." He really enjoyed his visit. He was particularly impressed with how the swimming reindeer were displayed.

    As the family member left behind in America, I was disappointed that there was no merchandising inspired by the programme available at the museum. I would have enjoyed a book or set of postcards. Do you have something like that planned for when all 100 objects have been presented?

  • Comment number 4.

    Great to hear from people who have made the trip.
    kleines c – we’ve certainly noticed quite a few more people about the place too - AHoW gallery guides in hands and determined looks on faces.
    Frances – we certainly hope so.
    Iolanthe – great to hear of someone ‘doing the 30’! And I agree with your husband, the Swimming Reindeer display is amazing.
    We hadn’t originally planned a book, but because there has been so much interest, we are considering publishing one as a legacy of the project. While you wait, remember you can download the podcast and programme transcripts from each British Museum object page.
    David Prudames, British Museum

  • Comment number 5.

    I appreciate that it is preferable and probably more educational to keep the objects in their context. However for those of us who can rarely visit London it will be difficult to see all the objects if we have to cover virtually the entire museum in one visit.


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