Apr 152011

British Museum, London

It’s impossible to see everything in the British museum in one single day.
The museum is so large, it’s honestly intimidating. I spent seven hours there and was only able to see the first floor, that should tell you something.
I do recommend reading the Wikipedia article on the British Museum in case you would like to learn more about it and some of the collections hosted there. As much as I like writing documentation, but if someone else already did it, I’m most happy to link to their site; and Wikipedia really has a very extensive article with much background information.

Here’s a picture (actually, it’s three pictures in a panorama collage – I wasn’t able to photograph the exterior in one single shot…) of the exterior. Note the size of the people compared to the building…

By the way, size.
Usually I do avoid photographing people in museums, I even usually wait patiently until unsuspecting visitors have disappeared from the *background* of things I would like to photograph.
However, I had to change this strategy when visiting the British Museum. I *had* to have some average sized people running around, otherwise it wouldn’t have been possible for me to document the sheer size of some of the objects on display.
So please don’t wonder too much if there are actually people in my pictures. I did this intentionally to enable you to compare the size of average people to the objects on display.

Here’s an interior shot of the Great Court, composed in the same way as the exterior picture above: I took my lunch break there and encourage everyone else to do the same, given they visit the museum. It’s beautiful.

The oldest object in the British Museum
c. 1.8 million years old
Chopping tool, probably used to chop the skin from flesh of hunted animals (see small picture below)

British department

Gold Cape

‚Celtic‘ Torcs (torques), 150-50 BC
Torcs were worn around arms and necks.

King’s Library

Egyptian department

The Rosetta Stone (replica)
305-30 BC
If you should have no idea what that stone is or what it could mean for every serious Egyptian historian – wikipedia it.

Ancient Near East department
Reliefs from the Northwest Palace of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud
Human Headed Winged Lions and Reliefs from Nimrud

Hellenistic statues

Marble statue of a woman
200-160 BC
Found at Erynthai in Asia Minor
The head was made separately and is lost. I just love the draping of the fabric on this statue, giving almost exact hints how the clothing was made.

Sculptures and reliefs of the Partheon
More on the history of the Parthenon can be found at Wikipedia.

Terracotta figures,
about 150-100 BC
Asia Minor

Hellenistic jewelry
c. 300-400 BC

Hellenistic seal-stones
Engraved seal-stones are the smallest, most colorful and most portable works of art to have survived from the Hellenistic world. Most of these stones don’t even measure an inch.

Mosaic glass dishes,
Made in the eastern Mediterranean,
About 150-50 BC

The Nereid Monument
ca. 390–380 BC

Native American (Indian) clothing

Indigo dyes and printing in Japan

Porcelain, Mid-18th century

…which I only photographed because my parents actually own a cup from that collection, manufacture and time… it’s broken several times, though, and the pieces have been glued together by an amateur, which was my grandma, by the way.
Long, surprising story about a cup that obviously has its own will, as it seems. Perhaps one day I’ll write it down in longer form, but for that I think I would need pictures of that particular cup to actually document this story. I’m not too fond of artificial light photography, however; and given the chance, I prefer photographing in daylight.
That having said, the following is the short form of the story:
It’s a fact (and this basically is the surprising, somewhat ghostly story) that this particular cup refuses to be removed from my parents‘ home by anyone else than my grandparents (who are dead by now) and especially not for the purpose of selling it, and so it breaks each time someone tries to carry it over the porch – I shit you not, I’m deadly serious about this.
The breaking of the cup can also happen two or less days earlier, as soon as the plan is spoken out aloud by anyone.
In one case, around the early 1950ies, the cup in fact seems to have made the glass vitrine break down in which it stood the night before it should have been carried out in order to sell it to an Arabian sheik in order to raise some money to start a new business after the war, during which my grandparents lost almost everything – most surprising – all other porcelain in that board *survived* the breaking cupboard, except this cup. The cup  did, however, survive a bomb attack several years earlier in the house, during which all other porcelain and glass in the house broke or at least cracked from the air pressure – go figure. It seems to have that behavior ever since my grandfather considered selling it to the sheik.
The cup breaking each time it’s threatened to be carried over the doorstep is also the reason why it has never been mended or restored by an expert, who would, let’s face it, never carry out his work at my parent’s home.
Since I discovered that porcelain in the British Museum and took the pictures I have already told my mum that, in case I would inherit the cup, I would try to bring it to the British Museum and donor it to them, because it’s even a bit more decorated than their porcelain (it does, for example, have excessive gilding around the top; but the cameos are of the same pattern – young women catching angels to put them into cages under palm trees. The base color is equal to the lilac cup shown in the first picture) and also has a slightly different shape, indicating that it might be a different kind of cup.
Surprisingly, ever since that announcement the cup has not protested yet in the way it usually does, even if my mother was scared that it would (and therefore temporarily removed all other porcelain from that cupboard). I have the idea that the cup perhaps likes the idea of eventually being reunited with its relatives…

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