Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Treasures of the British Museum Revised Edition by Marjorie Caygill ( British Museum Press)


Coming from every part of the world and from all ages, these art works and artefacts collectively form an overview of human cultural achievement across civilisations.The British Museum  is the greatest treasure house in the world and it could fill many books with pretty pictures ... but this is more than that. A choice selection of topics, some well known and obvious (Sutton Hoo, the Royal Cemeteries at Ur, the Elgin Marbles), others less obvious (the Folkton Drums, the Lothar Crystal), fifty in all, serve as the basis for description and discussion of both objects and collectors and the way in which the BM has acquired them. This unusual and interesting approach makes for a magnificent book: superb pictures, highly readable descriptions and lots of human interest anecdotes. The 2009 edition is significantly expanded with twelve new objects discussed, representing a refocusing away from Europe and the Near East and also showcasing artefacts, such as the Ringlemere Cup, acquired over the last few decades. `About as good as a book of this sort can be. A magnificent present ... if you can bear to part with it.'

The range of the displayed objects is spectacular. Audiences will discover archaeological treasures from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome. They will encounter, too, artistic masterpieces from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, Oceania and Europe.

Every object displayed here is exceptional and each has its own story to tell: from hand axes made by our earliest human ancestors in East Africa, through to Medieval luxury wares, to contemporary art works that reflect the concerns of our modern age.

The British Museum Treasures offers visitors a sense of the British Museum collection as it can be experienced in London. Comprising objects from the whole world, past and present, the exhibition allows us to consider the varied ways in which made things can embody ideas and concerns common to all humanity.

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