Interesting Stuffs
The ‘Cool’ Factors of British Museum

The ‘Cool’ Factors of British Museum

 ‘Cool’ Factor #1 – The Link Between Hot Chocolate And British Museum

In 1697, Sir Hans Sloane at the age of 27, traveled from England to Jamaica and served as a physician to the new governor there. On the island, he sampled a drink made with locally grown cocoa – and declared it “nauseous.” No doubt, anyone who tried the drink at that time will think the same as the cocoa was only mixed with cold water. In fact, Conquistador Girolamo Benzoni even said it was “more a drink for pigs than a drink for humanity”. Sloane then set to work creating a more palatable version of drinking chocolate. He eventually came up with a winning recipe that mixed chocolate with milk. When he came back to England, he brought that recipe of hot milk chocolate with him and since then it has become a concoction that is loved by many.

Besides being known as a physician, an investor, a philanthropist, an inventor among other thing, Sir Hans Sloane was also a collector. Over his lifetime, he had collected over 71,000 objects of many varieties from Sudan, Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Ancient Near and Far East and the Americas. On his death in 1753, he bequeathed his books, manuscripts, prints, drawings, flora, fauna, medals, coins, seals, cameos and other curiosities to the nation, on condition that parliament should pay his executors £20,000 (worth £4,463,699.45 today), far less than the value of the collection, which was estimated to be about  £80,000 at that time. The bequest was accepted by King George II and at that same year, this collection formed the foundation of the British Museum. To come to think of it, nobody can expect that the father of British Museum and the founder of hot milk chocolate happen to be the same person. This fact by itself is interesting, isn’t it?

‘Cool’ Factor #2 – 260 years later, 350,404,179 visitors and still counting.

First set in the Montagu House, a 17th-century mansion in London’s Bloomsbury district, the British Museum officially opened on January 15, 1759, welcoming all “studious and curious persons,” from every walks of life.In 1840, the Montagu House was demolished, and, in its place, the museum’s larger, present-day building was erected. For the past  260 years, in total of 350,404,179 visitors had passed it’s door. Last year itself, around 6.2 million people had visited   the British Museum, making it the top tourist attraction in London for the past decade. It is the oldest national public museum in the world, even older than the USA by 17 years and the ‘cool’ part is, it has been FREE for everyone ever since it first open back in 1759. The British Museum is also the largest museum in the world, covering around 92,000 m2 (990,000 sq. ft).

‘Cool’ Factor #3 – Over 8 million artifacts and still growing.

The British Museum has played a pivotal role in making human history accessible with its impressive collection of over 8 million artifacts. Spanning a two-million-year chronology and covering a wide range of cultures found across the globe, the museum’s holdings comprise some of art history’s most well-known items. Their collection is in fact still growing as Curators continue acquiring new objects. The oldest objects displayed at the British Museum are the chopping tools made by early humans around 2 million years ago. Founded in the Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania) in 1931, this discovery represent the world’s first technological innovation, believed to be used in multiple way such as chopping branches, cutting meat and smashing bones.

‘Cool’ Factor #4 – View the collection digitally

However of all the massive artifacts collected, only 1% of these collection are on display to the public due to lack of space. But, despair not ‘all studious and curious person’ out there, The British Museum has announced recently that it has “completely revamped” its massive digital collection to be more intuitive for users. And it did so ahead of schedule to help a world in quarantine due to the Covid-19 lockdown. You can now access 4.5 million objects and 1.9 million images on the site online. And the ‘cool’ part is, those 1.9 million images are free to use for anyone under a Creative Commons 4.0 license. The site also offers suggestions as you search through the museum’s mammoth catalogue. “We are delighted to be able to unveil this major revamp early, and hope that these important objects can provide inspiration, reflection or even just quiet moments of distraction during this difficult time,” said Hartwig Fischer, director of the museum, in a statement.

This new online system offers you a chance to inspect and appreciate the artifacts in a way you might not be able to if you were physically there. It provides an opportunity to examine these priceless works of art in a manner not available to museum visitors. The high definition images “can be enlarged and examined in detail.” You can also scan over them. What a way to appreciate the aspects of these artifacts, that might be hard—or even impossible—to see while at the museum.

‘Cool’ Factor #5 –  Virtual Museum tours with Google Street View & Many More

In November 2015, the Museum broke a modern record. Mapped out and presented digitally, the Museum became the largest indoor space on Google Street View. You can explore it at your leisure from the comfort of your own home or anywhere really. You can go on a virtual visit to more than 60 galleries – perfect for creating your own bespoke tour around your favourites. See highlights like the Rosetta Stone in the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery or discover gems like the beautiful textiles in the Sainsbury African Galleries. Plan your own route through those galleries and another cool factor to add is that you have the ability to do it when the Museum is blissfully quiet.

If you would prefer to have some company on your journey around the Museum, you are able to download the British Museum Podcast and join presenters Sushma Jansari and Hugo Chapman as they take you on a journey behind the scenes at the Museum – meeting scientists, curators, authors and artists along the way. Traverse together with them and learn about mysterious ‘mummy goo’, about the perils of poison arrows in the collection and join them on a trip to the Museum’s own X-ray lab. Oh! Yes, it is true, the Museum has its own X-ray imaging laboratory, hidden deep underground in the World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre. The laboratory operates at 450,000 volts which is 90,000 times more than your phone charger! The British Museum Podcast is free, and available on Apple podcasts or SoundCloud.

If you want to get more expert insights into the collection, why not immerse yourself with audio tours and listen to Museum curators as they offer tantalizing overview as they introduce the galleries. These world-leading curators have recorded introductions to 64 galleries. Go and map your own adventure and pursuit anything from Assyrian lion hunts to Chinese jade. The tracks have also been translated into Korean, Chinese, Italian and Spanish. Subscribers to Apple Music or Google Play Music can access the audio tours for free. The audios are available to all other listeners for a small fee.

And lastly, engage yourself in the much-loved Curators corner series at the British Museum own YouTube channel. Watch the curators conduct interviews with scientists and conservators and many more. Here too, you will be able to find recipes, how-to videos, potential pub quiz knowledge and if you like to take a deeper dive into a specific topic, check out their playlist covering subjects such as manga, Troy, and their science and conservation work.

Conclusion

To put it simply this excerpt by Isabella Orlando from her blog ‘London Highlights: British Museum’; “I believe the Museum to be a powerful environment worthy of at least one visit, even by those who are uninterested in viewing historical relics, and especially by those who see a great distance between our contemporary world and the memory of the past.”, describe it best.

In reality, it is a privilege to see the remains of the past that signify the existence of our mankind on this Earth, spread throughout diverse cultures and various civilizations, being meticulously preserved and restored for us and the future generation. And nothing can beat that experience of seeing these great work of art or historical items in person and the ‘cool’ part is, all these can be seen under the same roof; at the British Museum. Though with the current global lockdown, and with us playing our part in stopping this pandemic by abstaining from traveling does not mean that we have to stop being that inquisitive person. Explore the British Museum virtually. Access all the available information that is provided. Involve yourself with the history of our past ancestors presence in this world. Gather all the knowledge that interest you to equip yourself that when the nearest opportunity arise for you to be at the Museum, you are ready to awe and appreciate these artifacts gratefully but this time with your very own eyes. What a wonderful time that will be!

Video Link ==> (Pompeii Live from the British Museum)

Links

  1. Sir Hans Sloane ==> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Sloane#cite_note-sloaneletters.com-19
  2. Conquistador Girolamo Benzoni ==> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girolamo_Benzoni
  3. more a drink for pigs than a drink for humanity ==> https://delysia.com/blog/modern-hot-chocolate/
  4.  £80,000 ==> http://sloaneletters.com/about-sir-hans-sloane/
  5. King George II ==> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_II_of_Great_Britain
  6. 6.2 million ==> https://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/lifestyle/entertainment/british-museum-remains-most-visited-attraction-in-the-uk/
  7. chopping tools ==> https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_1934-1214-7
  8. 1% ==> http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/london/hi/people_and_places/arts_and_culture/newsid_8595000/8595594.stm
  9. massive digital collection ==> https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection
  10. Creative Commons 4.0 license ==> https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/
  11. Statement ==> https://uk.news.yahoo.com/half-british-museum-collection-now-091058932.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAACMTOBIOeEOhe28ZfpDXx7-6A6-DPnJKPYUhkdxNbHmlO2V24faz1jIedUcHuoD7EXO6z_CkmRts0L02_bQzD4kVknfQO8U_3_iUD7pdpPu8RUFwuRE1FwuwkvK-L_ShrLXEX5N_eT0BltCxuKHIi9AC0OZPjhku1O-8-fyIGt9Y
  12. explore it at your leisure ==> https://blog.britishmuseum.org/how-to-explore-the-british-museum-from-home/
  13. virtual visit ==> https://artsandculture.google.com/streetview/british-museum/AwEp68JO4NECkQ?sv_lng=-0.1266024509257022&sv_lat=51.51905368906714&sv_h=326&sv_p=0&sv_pid=JeKwUFYAMWXNWPh3IOg3jw&sv_z=1.0000000000000002
  14. Rosetta Stone ==> https://blog.britishmuseum.org/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-the-rosetta-stone/
  15. Egyptian Sculpture Gallery ==> https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/galleries/egyptian-sculpture
  16. Sainsbury African Galleries ==> https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/galleries/africa
  17. British Museum Podcast ==> https://www.britishmuseum.org/the-british-museum-podcast?_gl=1*srpheo*_gcl_aw*R0NMLjE1OTE4MjU5NzYuQ2p3S0NBanc1dnoyQlJBdEVpd0FiY1ZJTDctNEVuTmJMS2FFRW5QNlY0bWRucUNGVWhzQkxBNFF4akZIeldiUm41SDY0TGp6MzI5WGJSb0NkeWNRQXZEX0J3RQ..
  18. X-ray imaging laboratory ==> https://www.britishmuseum.org/our-work/departments/scientific-research/scientific-techniques
  19. Apple podcasts ==> https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-british-museum-podcast/id1147175428
  20. Soundcloud ==> https://soundcloud.com/britishmuseum
  21. Apple Music ==> https://music.apple.com/gb/album/galleries-of-the-british-museum/1471813599
  22. YouTube channel ==> https://www.youtube.com/user/britishmuseum/featured
  23. London Highlights: British Museum ==> https://blogs.kcl.ac.uk/studentexperience/2018/07/19/london-highlights-british-museum/#.XuGo2NUzbIV

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