Museum Project

Subject: Art
Type: Descriptive Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 924
Topics: Art History, Heritage

I chose to visit the British Museum which is among the largest museums in the globe. It is located in London, inside Bloomsbury, UK. A part from this, it is the most comprehensive public institution which not only harbors numerous art and culture works but also the human history. The museum was established in the year 1753 and by then, it mostly depended on Sir Hans Sloane’s collections. To add on this, BM was publicly opened in Montagu house on 15th of January, 1959. The expansion of the British colony over the two centuries that followed also resulted to its expansion. Due to the large British influence, several branches of the institution were constructed. The British Museum of Natural History came up first in 1881, in South Kensington. In this project I will review some of the most popular pieces of works found in the British Museum as well as describe its origin and significance.

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The Rosetta Stone

To begin with, this is one of the most ancient and the most famous item in the British Museum. It is stone work done by a group of Egyptian priests. It was written in Egyptian and Greek languages by the use of three different scripts; hieroglyphic, Greek and demotic. These were the scripts used in ancient Egypt (London, 2016). According to its history, it was carved in 196 B.C. The stone was discovered by French soldiers who were reconstructing an Egyptian fort around the Nile River, in Rosetta. It was written to honor or rather appraise Ptolemy, their Pharaoh and contained the list of all he had done for the priests and subjects as whole.

The Parthenon Sculptures

One of the most valuable possessions of the British Museum are these sculptures. They were also known as the Elgin Marbles named after Lord Elgin who purchased them in 1816. These pieces of art survived the Parthenon Temple ruins and were sculpted by Pheidias. The temple was where Athens went to worship their goddess Athena. The temple had been completed by 432 B.C with Pheidias being the brain behind its main ideas and designs. In addition, the sculptures mainly covered the eastern and western wings of the temple (Whitley, 2014). The eastern entrance pediment represented the birth of Athena while the western one represented the Athena-Poseidon contest. The sculptures were made by marbles hence its durability.

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The Oxus Treasure

These items were made from hoard of gold and silver, dating way back in the 5th century from the Persian Empire. The popular Oxus Chariot Model in the museum was crafted by mixing gold and copper so as to make it studier. The model represented Darius I and his charioteer Joint (Association of Classical Teachers’ Greek Course, 2015). The reason why it was crafted is yet to be known but it has been speculated to be either a votive object dedicated as an offering, a piece commissioned by one of the officials of that time, or a toy crafted specifically for children from a well of family. All in all, the chariot depicts to us the metal work as well as the cultural and artistic exchange at that time.

The Lewis Chessmen

These 82 pieces of chessmen were carved by the use of walrus ivory and they are believed to have been made probably in Trondheim, Norway around the 12th century. Also, another theory concerning its origin is that they were carved in Skaholt, Iceland (Collinson, 2016). Furthermore, Margret the Adroit of Iceland was the most gifted carver. The bishop used to commission her to craft ivory gifts which were then sent to other countries. This explains why they were found in Lewis, in 1831. Studies affirms that the chessmen were for the highest classes in the community and that they may have been made for the Norwegian king mainly as a symbol of his sovereign power.

The Mummy of Katebet

There are numerous Egyptian mummies in BM but this one surpasses most of them. It is from the Late 18th Dynasty Thebes which dates from 1300-1250 B.C. Judging from her mask, fashionable ear studs and rings, it is evident that she was from high social class. The significance of such displays tries to shade light on the life and death attitudes of Egyptians as they evolved (Chyla, Rosińska-Balik, & Debowska-Ludwin, 2017). A part from this the way they prepared their burial was unique and this expressed their artistry and cultural background. The most practiced themes included; the preservation and sustenance of the dead, the magical and protection aid through amulets, tombs, texts and ritual performances. All these were significant to the ancient Egyptians.

In conclusion, BM treasures the most comprehensive items in human history. Its pieces are diverse as are from all continents. The above works are significant as they originate from way back in history. These art works are crucial to both the current and the future generation as they explain the history of different communities in the world. Conclusively, it is consequential to mention that more archeology research are being carried out to add more to the over 8 million current works.

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  1. Collinson, L. (2016). The Lewis Chessmen: New Perspectives, edited by David H. Caldwell and Mark A. Hall.
  2. Chyla, J., Rosińska-Balik, K., & Debowska-Ludwin, J. (2017). Current Research in Egyptology 17.
  3. Joint Association of Classical Teachers’ Greek Course. (2015). A World of Heroes. Cambridge University Press.
  4. London, B.. (2016). British Museum. Central Archive, Officers’ Reports.
  5. Whitley, J. (2014). Classical (Greek) Archaeology. In Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology (pp. 1487-1494). Springer New York.
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