Andrea Mantegna's Adoration of the Magi and its Ming connection

Andrea Mantegna's Adoration of the Magi and its Ming connection

Thursday 4 December 2014, 13.30
BP Lecture Theatre
Free, booking essential

Andrea Mantegna’s painting of the Adoration of the Magi features a bowl confirmed to be from the imperial factory at Jingdezhen, made in the Yongle period (1403–1424). Ming porcelain did appear in Europe in the early 15th century but it was very rare – perhaps Mantegna’s patron owned an example. Caroline Campbell, Curator of Italian paintings before 1500, National Gallery, London, discusses the painting and how it is a window on a world of extraordinary connections.

Please arrive punctually to guarantee admission. 


Chinese prints: drawing from the past

Chinese prints: drawing from the past

Friday 12 December 2014, 14.00-15.00
Room 95
Free, booking essential

Mary Ginsberg, British Museum, introduces examples of work from contemporary Chinese printmakers who take inspiration from traditional Ming styles and techniques, and compares these with examples of prints from the late Ming dynasty.

Please arrive punctually to guarantee admission. 


Cities of the Levant: the Past for the Future?

Cities of the Levant: the Past for the Future?

Joint BM/PEF/Council for British Research in the Levant/British Foundation for the Study of Arabia Lecture

Thursday 13 November 2014, 16.00
BP Lecture Theatre
Free – booking essential.

Philip Mansel, Author of Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean.

Cities have their own dynamism. Location, population, and wealth can give them the power to defy or ignore states. They subvert received ideas about national identity. Dr Philip Mansel, author of Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean, will speak about the cities of the Levant, particularly Smyrna, Alexandria and Beirut. Under the Ottoman Empire and its successors they were inhabited by Muslims, Christians and Jews. The alliance between France and the Ottoman Empire - called by one French ambassador 'the union between the lily and the crescent' - and the capitulations enabled foreigners to live, trade, and establish schools there. For a time dialogue trumped conflict, deals came before ideals. Smyrna was described as a light-house illuminating every corner of the Ottoman Empire. 'If Smyrna is the eye of Asia’, it was said, ‘the quay is the pupil of the eye’. Norman Douglas called it ‘the most enjoyable place on earth’. Alexandria, 'the Queen of the Mediterranean', was compared to a European ship moored off the coast of Egypt; Beirut was called the Paris of the Middle East. Philip Mansel asks how these cities functioned and explores their shared characteristics - diplomacy, trade, hybridity, pleasure, modernity and vulnerability. In the end Smyrna was burnt, Alexandria Egyptianised, Beirut ravaged by civil war. What is the message of the cities of the Levant for today's mixed cities, such as London, Paris, and Dubai?

Please arrive punctually to guarantee admission  


Contested Buddhist identities in contemporary Burma (Myanmar)

Contested Buddhist identities in contemporary Burma (Myanmar)

Thursday 27 November 2014, 13.30
Stevenson Lecture Theatre
Free, booking essential

As Burma (Myanmar) opens up to the world during a period of rapid change, Matthew J Walton, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, explores the effects on Buddhist identities. He examines how Buddhists in the country are defining and redefining themselves, and how these identities are disseminated and contested. 


Curator's introduction to Ancient lives, new discoveries

Curator's introduction to Ancient lives, new discoveries

Thursday 30 October 2014, 13.30 (DA)
Friday 28 November 2014, 13.30 (DA)
Thursday 29 January 2015, 13.30 (JT)
Friday 20 February 2015, 13.30 (DA)
BP Lecture Theatre
Free, booking essential

Exhibition Curators John Taylor (JT) and Daniel Antoine (DA) give a 45-minute illustrated introduction to the exhibition. The event on 30 Oct will have live speech-to-text transcription for deaf and hard of hearing people.

Please arrive punctually to guarantee admission  


Curator's introduction to Germany: memories of a nation

Curator's introduction to Germany: memories of a nation

Various dates, 13.30
BP Lecture Theatre
Free, booking essential

Sat 25 Oct, 13.30 (BC)
Mon 3 Nov, 13.30 (BC)
Thu 20 Nov, 13.30 (BC)
Mon 1 Dec, 13.30 (BC)
Thu 22 Jan, 13.30 (CvS)

Exhibition Curators Barrie Cook (BC) and Clarissa von Spee (CvS) give a 45-minute illustrated introduction to the exhibition. The event on 1 Dec will have speech-to-text transcription for deaf and hard of hearing people.

Please arrive punctually to guarantee admission.  


Curator's introduction to Ming: 50 years that changed China

Curator's introduction to Ming: 50 years that changed China

Friday 26 September, 13.30 JHH
Friday 3 October, 13.30 YPL
Thursday 16 October, 13.30 CC
Friday 31 Oct, 13.30 CC
Saturday 15 November, 13.30 YPL Sign interpreted
Thursday 11 December, 13.30 JHH
BP Lecture Theatre
Free, booking essential

Curators Jessica Harrison-Hall (JHH), Yu-Ping Luk (YPL) and Craig Clunas (CC) give a 45-minute illustrated introduction to the exhibition. The event on 11 Dec will have speech-to-text transcription for deaf and hard of hearing people.

Please arrive punctually to guarantee admission 


Curses! The British Museum's 'unlucky' mummies

Curses! The British Museum's 'unlucky' mummies

Friday 30 January 2015, 18.30
BP Lecture Theatre
£5, Members/concessions £3

There are two items in the Museum's ancient Egyptian collection that are associated with alleged curses. EA22542, an Egyptian coffin lid, part of the collection since 1889, has been the source of numerous stories of curse, malignant influence and haunting. The cartonnage mask donated in 1885 (EA24402) also comes with an extraordinary back story. Roger Luckhurst, Professor in Modern and Contemporary Literature, Birkbeck College, University of London, will explore the true and fateful history of the 'cursed' Victorian gentlemen, Thomas Douglas Murray and Walter Herbert Ingram, who donated these items. The stories of these men were well known in Edwardian London. Although they have been largely forgotten, these thrilling tales formed the basis for all the 'curse of the mummy' stories that followed. 


From 3rd Millennium BC Hunters to Crusaders

From 3rd Millennium BC Hunters to Crusaders

Culture, Beliefs and Commercial Dealings in Ancient Sidon

Joint BM/PEF – Evans Memorial Lecture


Thursday 4 December 2014, 16.00
BP Lecture Theatre
Free – booking essential

Claude Doumet Serhal, British Museum

The British Museum in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities of Lebanon has been excavating in Sidon for the past 15 years. This city state, 30km south of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, was one of the most important ancient Canaanite and Phoenician coastal cities. However, like other places in modern Lebanon, most of what we knew of its history until now came from contemporary Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Greek records. Events of ritual activity that involve shared food and drink consumption can be identified in Middle Bronze Age Sidon from funerary assemblages as well as from “ritual breakage and burning” of pottery. Prestige items and ritual paraphernalia are also found in the Late Bronze Age reinforcing the Sidon excavation as a reference site for substantiating Middle Bronze Age communal feasts, a fundamental aspect of Levantine archaeology. An important network of maritime traffic with Sidon started in the third millennium BC which then progressed, from as early as the 12th dynasty, through the exchange of Egyptian, Cypriot and Aegean pottery. In the Late Bronze Age, the elites from Sidon exclusively obtained open vessels linked to ceremonial and ritual activities. The Tawosret vessel is one of the first of these dedicated items to illustrate an aspect of international communications not directly linked to religion or trade. All of the above irrefutably adds to a better understanding and a broadening of our knowledge of Levantine archaeology.

Please arrive punctually to guarantee admission  


From Goethe to Grimm

From Goethe to Grimm

Friday 16 January 2015, 18.30
BP Lecture Theatre
£5, Members/concessions £3

The late 18th and early 19th centuries formed a crucial period in German literature, giving birth to the Sturm und Drang movement, Weimar Classicism and Romanticism. This panel discussion will explore the central figure of this period – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and his unique role at the centre of literary developments and in the birth of a national romanticism. The collected tales of the Brothers Grimm will also be examined as popular folk tales that spoke to a nascent nationalism in the early 19th century. Chaired by Angus Nicholls, Queen Mary University, and featuring novelist A S Byatt, Katrin Kohl, University of Oxford, Nicholas Boyle, University of Cambridge, and W Daniel Wilson, Royal Holloway, University of London.

Please arrive punctually to guarantee admission. 


Germany - but where is it?

Germany - but where is it?

Friday 28 November 2014, 18.30
BP Lecture Theatre
£5, Members/concessions £3

25 years ago, the fall of the Berlin Wall transformed Germany, Europe and the world. Historian and author Timothy Garton Ash, who lived behind the Berlin Wall and wrote about his experience of being spied on by the Stasi, asks whether we should look at today’s Germany with fear or hope. He examines what kind of country is it now, asks whether the cultural and the political are still divorced, and whether can Germany lead the European Union.

Please arrive punctually to guarantee admission. 


Germany, the Reformation and the making of brand Luther

Germany, the Reformation and the making of brand Luther

Friday 16 January 2014, 13.30
BP Lecture Theatre
Free, booking essential

Andrew Pettegree, University of St Andrews, explores the origins of one of Germany’s most seismic contributions to world culture – the Protestant Reformation. He examines how much the Reformation and the spread of Martin Luther’s ideas were the product of the new technologies of which Luther proved such a master.

Please arrive punctually to guarantee admission. 


Germany: floating frontiers

Germany: floating frontiers

Thursday 6 November 2014, 13.30
BP Lecture Theatre
Free booking essential

For much of its history, Germany has been characterised by regional diversity and the absence of a dominant single power centre or city. It has more borders than any other European country – borders that have fluctuated throughout its history. Simon Winder, editor and author of Germania:A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern, gives a personal account of navigating Germany’s border regions and reflects on how a history of changing nationalism is displayed.

Please arrive punctually to guarantee admission. 


Ming Chinese painting

Ming Chinese painting

Thursday 6 November 2014, 14.00-15.00
Room 95
Free, booking essential

Clarissa von Spee, British Museum, introduces some examples of Chinese painting from around the 14th to 16th centuries, with a focus on the early Ming dynasty.

Please arrive punctually to guarantee admission. 


New discoveries from ancient Egypt

New discoveries from ancient Egypt

Friday 7 November 2014, 18.30
BP Lecture Theatre
£5, Members/concessions £3

In this lecture, Exhibition Curators John Taylor and Daniel Antoine, British Museum, highlight research methods, CT scans and visualisation techniques used in the preparation of the exhibition Ancient lives, new discoveries. This will include a demonstration of the software and how it enabled researchers to view human remains in new ways, and a discussion on how these results challenge previous assumptions.
Please arrive punctually to guarantee admission  


Shall we stay or shall we leave? Jews in Germany 1945-2015

Shall we stay or shall we leave? Jews in Germany 1945-2015

Friday 23 January 2015, 13.30
BP Lecture Theatre
Free, booking essential

After 1945 Jews in Germany faced difficult and complex relations with the idea of Germany. Despite this, Jews continued to live in the country. Daniel Wildmann, Deputy Director, Leo Baeck Institute London, and Senior Lecturer in History, Queen Mary, University of London, considers what shaped the political and personal relationships between Jews and Germans in western Germany between 1945 and 1989, and the cultural impact of the massive Russian-Jewish immigration on German Jewry after 1989.

Please arrive punctually to guarantee admission. 


The Dingwall-Beloe Lecture at the British Museum

The Dingwall-Beloe Lecture at the British Museum

Monday 24 November 2014, 17.30 for the 18.00 -19.00 lecture
BP Lecture Theatre
Free, booking essential

The Trustees of the British Museum and the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers have the pleasure of inviting interested horologists and their guests to attend the Dingwall-Beloe Horological Lecture

Winner & Losers

Andrew King celebrates the
“Act of 12 Queen Anne Chapter 15”
“An Act for Providing a Publick Reward for such Person or Persons as shall Discover the Longitude at Sea”

300 years ago the British Government passed this Act offering millions of pounds in the value of money today to anyone – with no further qualification – who could find a “Method” to solve a problem which had bedevilled the Maritime World for centuries.

The 1714 Act was the subject of controversial debate ushering in many further Acts during the active years of the appointed Commissioners of the Board of Longitude.

Were there ever any winners? Were the Commissioners a bigoted body of Parliamentary appointed stooges or were they working in the best interests of the Nation and World Wide Navigation?

Where does John Harrison stand in all this? Was Harrison sacrificed on an altar of governmental bias and self-interest?

Perhaps some deeply researched evidence can provide some answers.

This event was founded with funds bequeathed to the British Museum by Dr. Eric Dingwall, formerly an Assistant Keeper of Printed Books in the British Library, and to the Clockmakers' Company by Mr. Reginald Beloe, the noted horological collector. It is intended that these annual lectures should make new contributions to our understanding of the history of horology, at an international level.

The lecture will take place in the BP Lecture Theatre beneath the Great Court and will be followed by a reception.  


The Indian Ocean at the time of Zheng He

The Indian Ocean at the time of Zheng He

Friday 14 November 2014, 13.30
BP Lecture Theatre
Free, booking essential

Zheng He is a crucial character in the early Ming period. Between 1405 and 1433 he led seven official missions from China to kingdoms around the Indian Ocean, from Southeast Asia to East Africa. In this lecture, Elizabeth Lambourn, De Montfort University, Leicester, paints a picture of the hugely varied cultures Zheng He encountered during these voyages.

Please arrive punctually to guarantee admission. 


The Wilderness of Zin – 100 Years on

The Wilderness of Zin – 100 Years on

Joint BM/PEF Lecture

6 November 2014, 16.00
BP Lecture Theatre
Free – booking essential.

Sam Moorhead, British Museum, Portable Antiquities Scheme

As trauma grips the Middle East today, it is interesting to go back a hundred years to the last year of peace in the region before the outbreak of World War One. The Ottoman Empire was still the major power in the Levant, but Britain and Germany both had major interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. With this in mind, Lord Kitchener realised the importance of completing the Palestine Exploration Fund’s mapping of the Holy Land; the Negeb Desert south of Beersheba had not been covered in the 19th century survey. Therefore, in December 1913, a Royal Engineers cartographic team was sent into the Wilderness of Zin in southern Palestine, with an archaeological smokescreen provided by the PEF which employed two young archaeologists who were later to become famous in their own right: Leonard Woolley and T. E. Lawrence. This short episode brings together numerous strands of political, military, archaeological and social activity on the eve of the Great War, and was also to be an essential experience for the future Lawrence of Arabia. Sam Moorhead edited the latest version of the Wilderness of Zin, published by the PEF and Stacey International in 2003.

Please arrive punctually to guarantee admission  


The art of display: Philippe de Montebello in conversation with Martin Gayford

The art of display: Philippe de Montebello in conversation with Martin Gayford

Monday 8 December 2014, 19.00-20.00
BP Lecture Theatre
£5, Members/concessions £3

Philippe de Montebello and Martin Gayford discuss the pleasures and pitfalls of 'truly looking' at works of art in the context of museums.

Philippe de Montebello is the former Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Martin Gayford is the author of numerous acclaimed books on art. The speakers will be signing copies of their new book, Rendez-vous with Art, following the event.

Please note: the Museum closes at 17.30 and re-entry for this event will be from 18.30. Please have your booking information to hand at the Museum's Main entrance at this time.

This event was originally to have included British Museum Director Neil MacGregor. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, he is now unable to attend.  


The people's car: a history of the Volkswagen Beetle

The people's car: a history of the Volkswagen Beetle

Friday 16 January 2015, 13.30
BP Lecture Theatre
Free, booking essential

Bernhard Rieger, University College London, examines the history of the Volkswagen Beetle. Although it was commissioned by Adolf Hitler as a small, inexpensive family car for Nazi Germany, the Beetle became a global icon. Its success hinged on its ability to capture the imaginations of people across nations and cultures. In West Germany, it became the undisputed symbol of the post-war economic miracle and helped propel the country into the age of mass motorisation.

Please arrive punctually to guarantee admission. 


Who were the ancient Egyptians?

Who were the ancient Egyptians?

Friday 21 November 2014, 13.30
BP Lecture Theatre
Free, booking essential

Professor Joel D Irish, Liverpool John Moores University, gives an overview of the peoples of the Nile Valley, investigating population origins, biological affinities and migration patterns within and beyond Egypt, drawn from his extensive work in dental anthropology.

Please arrive punctually to guarantee admission