Fahmida Suleman, Curator of the Room 34 display Life and sole: footwear from the Islamic world, talks to William (Boy) Habraken, Curator at the Shoes or No Shoes (SONS) Museum, Belgium, and Guinness World Record holder of the world’s largest collection of tribal and ethnic footwear (3,357 pairs and counting!)
Thursday 7 April 2016, 16.00 BP Lecture Theatre Free, booking required
In this lecture, Linda Hulin, University of Oxford, explores the social impact of the Egyptian empire upon Egyptians during the New Kingdom, when Egypt commanded an empire that stretched from modern Lebanon to Sudan. Previous studies have concerned themselves with narratives of domination and military rule, political relations and the economic impact of the Egyptian presence. Social relations have been framed in terms of the extent to which local elites emulated Egyptian practice. This lecture concentrates upon the impact of the ruled upon the rulers, and argues for a complex set of responses depending upon social position and opportunity. In all imperial/colonial encounters a line is drawn between ‘cultural integrity’ and ‘going native’, a line that shifts as empires develop, and this process of acceptance and rejection is apparent in Egyptian society. The type of objects and practices that were adopted, adapted or rejected by Egyptians both at home and on service abroad reveals much about their conception of themselves and of the world around them, and brings us to a more nuanced and varied picture than is revealed by either ancient propaganda or modern studies of imported items in Egypt or Egyptian objects in Nubia and the Levant.
Organised by the Palestine Exploration Fund and the Egypt Exploration Society, in association with the Museum’s Department of the Middle East.
The Waddesdon Bequest, a collection of medieval and Renaissance objects given to the Museum by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild in 1898, is an example of a 'cabinet of curiosities'. These cabinets of wonder are often thought of as precursors to museums. In this lecture, Brian Dillon, lecturer at the Royal College of Art, considers the influence of cabinets of curiosities on contemporary artists, gathering different curiosities together within a modern context.
Constantine the Great laid the foundations for Christianity to become the state religion of the Roman Empire. However, this would never have occurred without the support of his army in Britain who declared him emperor at York in AD 306. In this lecture, Sam Moorhead, British Museum, explains how Christianity took strong root in late Roman Britain, with reference to the British Museum's rich collection of late Roman Christian objects.
Thursday 1 October 2015, 13.30 (JF) Thursday 12 November 2015, 13.30 (RW) Thursday 10 December 2015, 13.30 (JF) Thursday 21 January 2016, 13.30 (RW) BP Lecture Theatre Free, booking essential
Exhibition Curators Julia Farley (JF) and Rosie Weetch (RW) give a 45-minute illustrated introduction to the exhibition. Please note the event on 12 November will have live speech-to-text transcription for deaf and hard of hearing people.
Friday 6 November 2015, 15.00 (EOC) Friday 8 January 2016, 13.30 (AM) Friday 29 January, 13.30 (EOC) BP Lecture Theatre Free, booking essential
Exhibition Curators Elisabeth O'Connell (EOC) and Amandine Merat (AM) give a 45-minute illustrated introduction to the exhibition. Please note the event on 29 January will have live speech-to-text transcription for deaf and hard of hearing people.
Friday 4 March 2016, 13.30-14.30 BP Lecture Theatre Free, booking required
Throughout human history, in all parts of the world, feasts have been at the heart of life. The British Museum is full of countless ghostly feasts – dishes that once bore rich meats, pitchers that were used to pour choice wine, tall jars that held beer sipped through long straws of lapis and gold, and cauldrons from which hundreds of people could be served. In this lecture Kaori O'Connor, British Museum, reveals why feasts were so important, and how there was more to feasting than simple abundance and pleasure.
Friday 12 February 2016, 18.30 BP Lecture Theatre £5, Members/concessions £3
The treasure houses of the Rothschild family tell complex stories of ownership and identity. In this special illustrated lecture, author Edmund de Waal explores interweaving narratives of owning and belonging, authenticity, and the fake, with reference to the Museum's recently opened new gallery housing the Waddesdon Bequest (Room 2a).
Monday 25 April 2016, 13.30 BP Lecture Theatre Free, booking required
The remarkable sculpture known as A'a, on display in Room 3 from 17 March to 30 May 2016, remains an enigma. Although it was collected on the tiny Polynesian island of Rurutu, there are no eyewitness accounts of its use in the island's religion, and we cannot even be sure of its name. In this lecture, Professor Steven Hooper, Director of the Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the University of East Anglia, examines its likely role in the context of what is known about religious practice in Polynesia before conversion to Christianity took place in the early 19th century.
Friday 19 February 2016, 18.00 BP Lecture Theatre Free booking essential
Petros Themelis, Society of Messenian Archaeological Studies, explores the sculpture from Messene in the Western Peloponnese. This ancient Greek city witnessed the developing careers of many sculptors including Damophon, son of Philip, whose fame and activity in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC went far beyond the boundaries of his native city. After an earthquake at Olympia he made repairs to the great statue of Zeus by Pheidias, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Messene was also home to a family of sculptors in bronze who made portrait statues of Olympic victors in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC.
Friday 29 April 2016, 18.30 BP Lecture £5, Members/concessions £3
John Julius Norwich, author of The Normans in Sicily, talks to Dirk Booms, Exhibition Curator of Sicily: culture and conquest, about the fascinating context and effect of the Norman settlement of Sicily from 1061.
Friday 18 March 2016, 13.30 BP Lecture Free, booking required
Scientist Caroline Cartwright, British Museum, explains how new insights from the Museum's scientific research on Aztec/Mixtec turquoise mosaics help give cultural meaning to these extraordinary Mexican objects.
In response to the current Room 91 display Krishna in the garden of Assam, ethnomusicologist and artist-in-residence at the University of Oxford Dr Menaka P P Bora discusses her work recreating the rare classical performance traditions of Assam within a contemporary context. Using rare Sanskrit manuscripts from the Bodleian Library, ethnographic film footage, dance and music recordings, this lecture also evokes the hidden identity politics of Indian cultural affairs.
Thursday 10 March 2016, 13.30 BP Lecture Theatre Free, booking essential
Mark Knight, Cambridge Archaeological Unit, University of Cambridge, discusses the internationally significant new discoveries being made at the remarkably well-preserved site of an abandoned 3,000-year-old Bronze Age settlement, dubbed the ‘Peterborough Pompeii’, at Must Farm in the East Anglian fens.
Thursday 14 April 2016, 13.30 BP Lecture Theatre Free, booking required
This unique lecture by art historian Anne Haworth follows a trail through the British Museum in pursuit of objects crafted from different materials and from varied cultures and periods, all united by the colour pink. She will draw comparisons between Hellenistic terracotta figures and 18th-century European porcelain wares, and highlight contrasts between the natural colouring of shells, the preparation of textile dyes and the manufacturing of ceramic glaze colours.
Thursday 12 February 2016, 13.30 BP Lecture Theatre Free, booking required
Every four years for more than a thousand years, Greeks flocked to the Olympic Games to celebrate the power of the gods, their own city states, and the human body. Focusing on the Olympics of 416 BC and using a wealth of illustrations and contemporary accounts, writer, lecturer and dramatist David Stuttard brings into sharp relief not only the religion and politics of the Games, but the exhilaration of their trials of strength and speed – from wrestling and discus-throwing to the breakneck chariot race – and the banqueting and victory celebrations that followed.
Thursday 3 March 2016, 16.00 BP Lecture Theatre Free, booking required
The Wars of the Maccabees are often cast as an archetypal struggle of an oppressed people to regain their national and religious independence. But the reality was by no means that simple – the fate of the Maccabean leaders and their Hasmonean successors became intertwined with the Seleucid monarchs. It was the internecine warfare between rival claimants for the Seleucid throne and progressive disintegration of central authority that enabled Judea to gain independence during the rule of John Hyrcanus (135–104 BC).In this lecture, David Jacobson, UCL, illustrates important episodes in this unfolding drama through ancient coins, supplemented by lapidary inscriptions and other archaeological evidence.
Organised by the Palestine Exploration Fund and the AIAS, in association with the Museum’s Department of the Middle East.
Friday 26 February 2016, 18.30 BP Lecture Theatre £5, Members/concessions £3
Hilary Williams, British Museum, discusses a gilded age in the history of connoisseurship. The Wallace Collection, amassed by Sir Richard and Lady Wallace, opened as a public institution in 1897. Shortly after, it was visited by the American Henry Clay Frick. He was inspired to create another such collection of quality, The Frick Collection, New York, using the good services and inside knowledge of the Wallaces' Private Secretary and Trustee Sir John Murray Scott. Fascinating connections and connoisseurship of this era link with the Rothschild property at Waddesdon Manor, the Sackvilles of Knole, American banker and art collector J P Morgan, art historian Bernard Berenson and influential art dealer Lord Duveen, who funded the British Museum gallery in which the Parthenon sculptures are displayed.
Friday 24 June 2016, 18.30 BP Lecture Theatre £5, Members/concessions £3
The cities and rulers of ancient Sicily were well known for often building big at home, but how did they articulate their presence and importance abroad? This lecture by Dr Michael Scott, University of Warwick, looks at how the communities of ancient Sicily were represented and re-presented over the centuries in writing and in stone at the heart of ancient Greece. Presented in collaboration with the Hellenic Society. Includes BSL provision for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences.
Friday 1 April 2016, 18.30 BP Lecture Theatre £5, Members/concessions £3
Sir Mark Jones, former Director of the V&A Museum, curated a provocative exhibition at the British Museum in 1990 on fakes and forgeries. In this lecture he discusses attitudes to fakes and faking and how they have changed through time.
Thursday 24th March 2016, 18.30 BP Lecture Theatre £10, Members/concessions £8
The slow movement of Patrick Pearse – poet, educationalist and language-enthusiast – from cultural nationalism towards separatism and bloody revolution, is one of the reasons the 1916 Rebellion took place and had such influence. Author Colm Tóibín traces his politics, in all their complexity and ambiguity, during the decade which led to the Rebellion, which in turn helped lead towards Irish independence. Colm Tóibín, author of the Booker-shortlisted novels The Master and The Testament of Mary and the Costa-winning Brooklyn, teaches at Columbia University.
In collaboration with the London Review of Books Information: lrb.co.uk/winterlectures
The slow movement of Patrick Pearse – poet, educationalist and language-enthusiast – from cultural nationalism towards separatism and bloody revolution, is one of the reasons the 1916 Rebellion took place and had such influence. Author Colm Tóibín traces his politics, in all their complexity and ambiguity, during the decade which led to the Rebellion, which in turn helped lead towards Irish independence.
Colm Tóibín, author of the Booker-shortlisted novels The Master and The Testament of Mary and the Costa-winning Brooklyn, teaches at Columbia University.
In collaboration with the London Review of Books Information: lrb.co.uk/winterlectures
Please note that this is a live relay of the lecture that will be taking place in the BP Lecture Theatre next door.
Sarah Teasley, Head of Programme for History of Design, Royal College of Art, explores relationships between state organisations, furniture manufacturers, materials scientists, technical educators and the designers who mediated between these communities in 20th-century Japan. Organised by the Museum's Asia Department, Meiji Jingu and SISJAC.
Friday 22 April 2016, 18.30 BP Lecture Theatre £5, Members/concessions £3
In the wake of his acclaimed book Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar, author and historian Tom Holland presents a luridly fascinating history of the reign of the first five Roman emperors – Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero – with the murder of Julius Caesar at its start. Bathed in intrigue, murder, naked ambition and treachery, greed, gluttony, lust, incest, pageantry, decadence – the tale of these five Caesars continues to cast a mesmerising spell across the millennia.
Friday 29 April 2016, 13.30 BP Lecture Theatre Free, booking required
In this lecture, Jane Portal, British Museum, will discuss the dual influence of Korean tradition and the socialist state in art produced in North Korea, as well as the role of the state in archaeology and public monuments, with reference to works collected for the British Museum after the establishment of diplomatic relations with the DPRK in 2000.
Friday 11 March 2016, 18.30 BP Lecture Theatre £5, Members/concessions £3
During the summer of 2012 two metal-detectorists, Reg Mead and Richard Miles, discovered ancient treasure in a field in Jersey – the largest hoard of Celtic coins ever found. The 70,000 coins and beautiful gold and silver jewellery had lain hidden for 2,000 years. The coins mostly belonged to a tribe of people called the Coriosolitae, who lived in what is now Brittany and Normandy. In this lecture numismatist Philip de Jersey, former keeper of the Oxford University Celtic Coin Index, will describe the exciting story of the excavation and the hoard’s subsequent analysis.