qatsi (qatsi) wrote,
qatsi
qatsi

Seeking Enlightenment

A trip today with kharin to the British Museum's Englightenment exhibtion, amongst other things. In comparison to the minimalism of most contemporary museums and galleries, it was cluttered; in comparison to the Pitt-Rivers Museum in Oxford, it was clarity itself.

Although I saw something leading me to believe this is a "temporary" exhibition, the accompanying book says it is permanent, and as such it provides an excellent background introduction to the period around the founding of the BM in 1753 and its first half century or so, with sections on flora and fauna, minerals, antiquity and archaeology, natural philosophy, religion, ritual and mysticism, and global exploration and trade. The King's library was the result of the donation by George IV of his father(George III)'s collection to the museum (obviously the caricature in The Madness of King George was fairly accurate regarding the son's attitude to education and learning, then), though in this exhibition all the books on the shelves between the exhibits are from the House of Commons library (one wonders if anything is left there, for the moment).

Unfortunately the visit was mis-timed from the point of view of the "London 1753" exhibition I had hoped to see, but the catalogue for that was still available in Ye Gifte Shoppe.

We also observed some of the permanent exhibits, including the results of a more successful British expedition to Iraq some generations ago (or perhaps it was just that the technology for inflicting death and destruction was more one-sided and we didn't shrink from using it to keep the natives in order), the Rosetta Stone (which was also being viewed by a party of French schoolchildren - I wondered how they described Napoleon's role in that), and the Elgin Marbles (sorry, I mean the Parthenon Frieze, as it's now called), whose exhibition in London I observed poses one fatal flaw: it is inside-out (recall that it is supposed to be round the outside of a building, facing outwards, but it is mounted round the inside of a building, facing inwards).
Tags: exhibitions
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