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Damaged facade, Mechelen, 1914

Damaged facade, Mechelen, 1914

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Damaged facade, Mechelen, 1914

This house at Mechelen in Belgium has suffered minor shell damage during the early fighting of 1914.

Woolworth Building

The Woolworth Building is an early American skyscraper designed by architect Cass Gilbert located at 233 Broadway in Manhattan, New York City. It was the tallest building in the world from 1913 to 1930, with a height of 792 feet (241 m). More than a century after its construction, it remains one of the 100 tallest buildings in the United States.

The Woolworth Building is located in Manhattan's Tribeca neighborhood, bounded by Broadway and City Hall Park to its east, Park Place to its north, and Barclay Street to its south. It consists of a 30-story base topped by a 30-story tower. Its facade is mostly decorated with terracotta, though the lower portions are limestone, and it features thousands of windows. The ornate lobby contains various sculptures, mosaics, and architectural touches. The structure was designed with several amenities and attractions, including a now-closed observatory on the 57th floor and a private swimming pool in the basement.

F. W. Woolworth, the founder of a brand of popular five-and-ten-cent stores, conceived the skyscraper as a headquarters for his company. Woolworth planned the skyscraper jointly with the Irving National Exchange Bank, which also agreed to use the structure as its headquarters. The Woolworth Building had originally been planned as a 12- to 16-story commercial building but underwent several revisions during its planning process. Its final height was not decided upon until January 1911. Construction started in 1910 and was completed two years later. The building officially opened on April 24, 1913.

The Woolworth Building has undergone several changes throughout its history. The facade was cleaned in 1932, and the building received an extensive renovation between 1977 and 1981. The Irving National Exchange Bank moved its headquarters to 1 Wall Street in 1931, but the Woolworth Company (later Venator Group) continued to own the Woolworth Building for most of the 20th century. The structure was sold to the Witkoff Group in 1998. The top 30 floors were sold to a developer in 2012 and converted into residences. Office and commercial tenants use the rest of the building. The Woolworth Building has been a National Historic Landmark since 1966, [6] [7] [8] and a New York City designated landmark since 1983. [9]

Damaged facade, Mechelen, 1914 - History

By Dorri Partain | Posted June 16th, 2021 | Tweet

ATHLETIC FIELDS. A concrete slab was poured on the athletic field in front of Northeast Middle School in preparation for the construction of a marker to denote the site of the former Thacher School. x DORRI PARTAIN

Dorri Partain

Salvaged materials from the former Thacher School are being repurposed to create a new memorial marker built on the athletic fields of Northeast Middle School.

Thacher School stood at 5008 Independence Avenue for over 100 years and took center stage as a neighborhood landmark that many residents fought to save when the proposed demolition was announced by the Kansas City School District in 2013. A grass-roots group, Save Thacher, challenged the district to mothball the school until a new community use could be implemented but a final vote by the school board initiated the school’s demolition in the summer of 2015.

Prior to the demolition, members of Save Thacher met with Shannon Jaxx, director of the district’s Repurposing Initiative, to determine which elements of the building could be saved and reused, including the construction of a memorial marker that would denote the renaming of the athletic field as Thacher Field, with an expanded soccer field and baseball diamond planned for the space where the school once stood.

Built in 1900 to serve the growing Northeast neighborhood, Thacher School replaced an earlier wooden building named Oakley. Designed by the district’s architect, Charles A. Smith, the two story building was built of buff-colored brick and detailed limestone ornamentation. A gymnasium and additional classrooms were added in 1914 to match the original building.

Named for a prominent member of the school board and Civil War Major Luin Kennedy Thacher (1837-1894). the school was last used by the district in 2010. The addition was damaged in an arson fire in 2011 which caused the roof to cave in but was not declared a dangerous building.

According to Justin Fritter, construction manager for MTS Contracting of North Kansas City, the memorial will use the complete cornerstone, a veneer of some of the original limestone decorations, such as the archways, and bands of the white porcelain-faced brick that decorated the facade. None of the buff-colored brick was salvaged.

“We’re going to have some new pieces cast to match the originals that were too heavily damaged during demolition. We were concerned about matching the original facade brick color because we didn’t want anyone to view the new marker and discover the color was wrong. Additionally, there will be a cast piece installed that reads ‘The Site of Thacher Elementary 1900-2015’. Once we receive those final pieces, we’ll be able to complete the marker fairly quickly”, Fritter said.

The memorial is the final piece of a long list of improvements to the Northeast High and Middle School campuses, including the construction of a football field at the high school and the installation of a goal post for the middle school.

Historical Background return to top ▲

Awnings are remarkable building features that have changed little over the course of history. Records dating back to ancient Egypt and Syria make note of woven mats that shaded market stalls and homes. In the Roman Empire, large retractable fabric awnings sheltered the seating areas of amphitheatres and stadiums, including the Coliseum. The Roman poet Lucretius, in 50 B.C., likened thunder to the sound that "linen-awning, stretched, o'er mighty theatres, gives forth at times, a cracking roar, when much 'tis beaten about, betwixt the poles and cross-beams." Over the next two millennia awnings appeared throughout the world, while the technology used in their construction changed little.

Early 19th century awnings featured canvas coverings stretched between the building facade and post-supported front bars. Projecting frameworks of extension bars were not common until later in the century. Photo: Second Street, Philadelphia, © 1841, Print and Photo Collection, The Free Library of Philadelphia.

The Sagrada Familia Will Be Completed by 2026 or so . . .

In an article published by Time in 2019, it was reported that the Sagrada Familia was expected to be completed in 2026 to coincide with the 100 th anniversary of Gaudi’s death. The construction of the Sagrada Familia has progressed steadily, and the goal of completing the basilica by 2026 seems achievable.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, seems to have thrown a spanner in the works. In March 2020, construction was halted by the Junta Constructora de la Sagrada Familia.

Work was resumed in October 2020, and it is hoped that by the end of 2021, the Tower of the Virgin Mary would be completed, topped with a twelve-pointed star that will illuminate the city of Barcelona.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sagrada Familia is currently closed to the public. Nevertheless, virtual tours can be found on the website of the Sagrada Familia, which would allow people to experience the basilica without having to leave their homes.

Top image: The Sagrada Familia in 2017, a work in progress (since 1882) that is slated for final completion, nearly 144 years later, in 2026. Source: TTstudio / Adobe Stock


Sir Hans Sloane Edit

Although today principally a museum of cultural art objects and antiquities, the British Museum was founded as a "universal museum". Its foundations lie in the will of the Irish physician and naturalist Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753), a London-based doctor and scientist from Ulster. During the course of his lifetime, and particularly after he married the widow of a wealthy Jamaican planter, [9] Sloane gathered a large collection of curiosities and, not wishing to see his collection broken up after death, he bequeathed it to King George II, for the nation, for a sum of £20,000. [10]

At that time, Sloane's collection consisted of around 71,000 objects of all kinds [11] including some 40,000 printed books, 7,000 manuscripts, extensive natural history specimens including 337 volumes of dried plants, prints and drawings including those by Albrecht Dürer and antiquities from Sudan, Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Ancient Near and Far East and the Americas. [12]

Foundation (1753) Edit

On 7 June 1753, King George II gave his Royal Assent to the Act of Parliament which established the British Museum. [b] The British Museum Act 1753 also added two other libraries to the Sloane collection, namely the Cottonian Library, assembled by Sir Robert Cotton, dating back to Elizabethan times, and the Harleian Library, the collection of the Earls of Oxford. They were joined in 1757 by the "Old Royal Library", now the Royal manuscripts, assembled by various British monarchs. Together these four "foundation collections" included many of the most treasured books now in the British Library [14] including the Lindisfarne Gospels and the sole surviving manuscript of Beowulf. [c]

The British Museum was the first of a new kind of museum – national, belonging to neither church nor king, freely open to the public and aiming to collect everything. Sloane's collection, while including a vast miscellany of objects, tended to reflect his scientific interests. [15] The addition of the Cotton and Harley manuscripts introduced a literary and antiquarian element, and meant that the British Museum now became both National Museum and library. [16]

Cabinet of curiosities (1753–1778) Edit

The body of trustees decided on a converted 17th-century mansion, Montagu House, as a location for the museum, which it bought from the Montagu family for £20,000. The trustees rejected Buckingham House, on the site now occupied by Buckingham Palace, on the grounds of cost and the unsuitability of its location. [17] [d]

With the acquisition of Montagu House, the first exhibition galleries and reading room for scholars opened on 15 January 1759. [18] At this time, the largest parts of collection were the library, which took up the majority of the rooms on the ground floor of Montagu House, and the natural history objects, which took up an entire wing on the second state storey of the building. In 1763, the trustees of the British Museum, under the influence of Peter Collinson and William Watson, employed the former student of Carl Linnaeus, Daniel Solander, to reclassify the natural history collection according to the Linnaean system, thereby making the Museum a public centre of learning accessible to the full range of European natural historians. [19] In 1823, King George IV gave the King's Library assembled by George III, [20] and Parliament gave the right to a copy of every book published in the country, thereby ensuring that the museum's library would expand indefinitely. During the few years after its foundation the British Museum received several further gifts, including the Thomason Collection of Civil War Tracts and David Garrick's library of 1,000 printed plays. The predominance of natural history, books and manuscripts began to lessen when in 1772 the museum acquired for £8,410 its first significant antiquities in Sir William Hamilton's "first" collection of Greek vases. [21]

Indolence and energy (1778–1800) Edit

From 1778, a display of objects from the South Seas brought back from the round-the-world voyages of Captain James Cook and the travels of other explorers fascinated visitors with a glimpse of previously unknown lands. The bequest of a collection of books, engraved gems, coins, prints and drawings by Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode in 1800 did much to raise the museum's reputation but Montagu House became increasingly crowded and decrepit and it was apparent that it would be unable to cope with further expansion. [22]

The museum's first notable addition towards its collection of antiquities, since its foundation, was by Sir William Hamilton (1730–1803), British Ambassador to Naples, who sold his collection of Greek and Roman artefacts to the museum in 1784 together with a number of other antiquities and natural history specimens. A list of donations to the museum, dated 31 January 1784, refers to the Hamilton bequest of a "Colossal Foot of an Apollo in Marble". It was one of two antiquities of Hamilton's collection drawn for him by Francesco Progenie, a pupil of Pietro Fabris, who also contributed a number of drawings of Mount Vesuvius sent by Hamilton to the Royal Society in London.

Growth and change (1800–1825) Edit

In the early 19th century the foundations for the extensive collection of sculpture began to be laid and Greek, Roman and Egyptian artefacts dominated the antiquities displays. After the defeat of the French campaign in the Battle of the Nile, in 1801, the British Museum acquired more Egyptian sculptures and in 1802 King George III presented the Rosetta Stone – key to the deciphering of hieroglyphs. [23] Gifts and purchases from Henry Salt, British consul general in Egypt, beginning with the Colossal bust of Ramesses II in 1818, laid the foundations of the collection of Egyptian Monumental Sculpture. [24] Many Greek sculptures followed, notably the first purpose-built exhibition space, the Charles Towneley collection, much of it Roman sculpture, in 1805. In 1806, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1799 to 1803 removed the large collection of marble sculptures from the Parthenon, on the Acropolis in Athens and transferred them to the UK. In 1816 these masterpieces of western art were acquired by The British Museum by Act of Parliament and deposited in the museum thereafter. [25] The collections were supplemented by the Bassae frieze from Phigaleia, Greece in 1815. The Ancient Near Eastern collection also had its beginnings in 1825 with the purchase of Assyrian and Babylonian antiquities from the widow of Claudius James Rich. [26]

In 1802 a buildings committee was set up to plan for expansion of the museum, and further highlighted by the donation in 1822 of the King's Library, personal library of King George III's, comprising 65,000 volumes, 19,000 pamphlets, maps, charts and topographical drawings. [27] The neoclassical architect, Sir Robert Smirke, was asked to draw up plans for an eastern extension to the museum ". for the reception of the Royal Library, and a Picture Gallery over it . " [28] and put forward plans for today's quadrangular building, much of which can be seen today. The dilapidated Old Montagu House was demolished and work on the King's Library Gallery began in 1823. The extension, the East Wing, was completed by 1831. However, following the founding of the National Gallery, London in 1824, [e] the proposed Picture Gallery was no longer needed, and the space on the upper floor was given over to the Natural history collections. [29]

The largest building site in Europe (1825–1850) Edit

As Sir Robert Smirke's grand neo-classical building gradually arose, the museum became a construction site. The King's Library, on the ground floor of the East Wing, was handed over in 1827, and was described as one of the finest rooms in London. Although it was not fully open to the general public until 1857, special openings were arranged during The Great Exhibition of 1851.

In 1840, the museum became involved in its first overseas excavations, Charles Fellows's expedition to Xanthos, in Asia Minor, whence came remains of the tombs of the rulers of ancient Lycia, among them the Nereid and Payava monuments. In 1857, Charles Newton was to discover the 4th-century BC Mausoleum of Halikarnassos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In the 1840s and 1850s the museum supported excavations in Assyria by A.H. Layard and others at sites such as Nimrud and Nineveh. Of particular interest to curators was the eventual discovery of Ashurbanipal's great library of cuneiform tablets, which helped to make the museum a focus for Assyrian studies. [30]

Sir Thomas Grenville (1755–1846), a trustee of the British Museum from 1830, assembled a library of 20,240 volumes, which he left to the museum in his will. The books arrived in January 1847 in twenty-one horse-drawn vans. The only vacant space for this large library was a room originally intended for manuscripts, between the Front Entrance Hall and the Manuscript Saloon. The books remained here until the British Library moved to St Pancras in 1998.

Collecting from the wider world (1850–1875) Edit

The opening of the forecourt in 1852 marked the completion of Robert Smirke's 1823 plan, but already adjustments were having to be made to cope with the unforeseen growth of the collections. Infill galleries were constructed for Assyrian sculptures and Sydney Smirke's Round Reading Room, with space for a million books, opened in 1857. Because of continued pressure on space the decision was taken to move natural history to a new building in South Kensington, which would later become the British Museum of Natural History.

Roughly contemporary with the construction of the new building was the career of a man sometimes called the "second founder" of the British Museum, the Italian librarian Anthony Panizzi. Under his supervision, the British Museum Library (now part of the British Library) quintupled in size and became a well-organised institution worthy of being called a national library, the largest library in the world after the National Library of Paris. [16] The quadrangle at the centre of Smirke's design proved to be a waste of valuable space and was filled at Panizzi's request by a circular Reading Room of cast iron, designed by Smirke's brother, Sydney Smirke. [31]

Until the mid-19th century, the museum's collections were relatively circumscribed but, in 1851, with the appointment to the staff of Augustus Wollaston Franks to curate the collections, the museum began for the first time to collect British and European medieval antiquities, prehistory, branching out into Asia and diversifying its holdings of ethnography. A real coup for the museum was the purchase in 1867, over French objections, of the Duke of Blacas's wide-ranging and valuable collection of antiquities. Overseas excavations continued and John Turtle Wood discovered the remains of the 4th century BC Temple of Artemis at Ephesos, another Wonder of the Ancient World. [32]

Scholarship and legacies (1875–1900) Edit

The natural history collections were an integral part of the British Museum until their removal to the new British Museum of Natural History in 1887, nowadays the Natural History Museum. With the departure and the completion of the new White Wing (fronting Montague Street) in 1884, more space was available for antiquities and ethnography and the library could further expand. This was a time of innovation as electric lighting was introduced in the Reading Room and exhibition galleries. [33]

The William Burges collection of armoury was bequeathed to the museum in 1881. In 1882, the museum was involved in the establishment of the independent Egypt Exploration Fund (now Society) the first British body to carry out research in Egypt. A bequest from Miss Emma Turner in 1892 financed excavations in Cyprus. In 1897 the death of the great collector and curator, A. W. Franks, was followed by an immense bequest of 3,300 finger rings, 153 drinking vessels, 512 pieces of continental porcelain, 1,500 netsuke, 850 inro, over 30,000 bookplates and miscellaneous items of jewellery and plate, among them the Oxus Treasure. [34]

In 1898 Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild bequeathed the Waddesdon Bequest, the glittering contents from his New Smoking Room at Waddesdon Manor. This consisted of almost 300 pieces of objets d'art et de vertu which included exquisite examples of jewellery, plate, enamel, carvings, glass and maiolica, among them the Holy Thorn Reliquary, probably created in the 1390s in Paris for John, Duke of Berry. The collection was in the tradition of a Schatzkammer such as those formed by the Renaissance princes of Europe. [35] Baron Ferdinand's will was most specific, and failure to observe the terms would make it void, the collection should be

placed in a special room to be called the Waddesdon Bequest Room separate and apart from the other contents of the Museum and thenceforth for ever thereafter, keep the same in such room or in some other room to be substituted for it. [35]

These terms are still observed, and the collection occupies room 2a.

New century, new building (1900–1925) Edit

By the last years of the 19th century, The British Museum's collections had increased to the extent that its building was no longer large enough. In 1895 the trustees purchased the 69 houses surrounding the museum with the intention of demolishing them and building around the west, north and east sides of the museum. The first stage was the construction of the northern wing beginning 1906.

All the while, the collections kept growing. Emil Torday collected in Central Africa, Aurel Stein in Central Asia, D.G. Hogarth, Leonard Woolley and T. E. Lawrence excavated at Carchemish. Around this time, the American collector and philanthropist J Pierpont Morgan donated a substantial number of objects to the museum, [36] including William Greenwell's collection of prehistoric artefacts from across Europe which he had purchased for £10,000 in 1908. Morgan had also acquired a major part of Sir John Evans's coin collection, which was later sold to the museum by his son John Pierpont Morgan Junior in 1915. In 1918, because of the threat of wartime bombing, some objects were evacuated via the London Post Office Railway to Holborn, the National Library of Wales (Aberystwyth) and a country house near Malvern. On the return of antiquities from wartime storage in 1919 some objects were found to have deteriorated. A conservation laboratory was set up in May 1920 and became a permanent department in 1931. It is today the oldest in continuous existence. [37] In 1923, the British Museum welcomed over one million visitors.

Disruption and reconstruction (1925–1950) Edit

New mezzanine floors were constructed and book stacks rebuilt in an attempt to cope with the flood of books. In 1931, the art dealer Sir Joseph Duveen offered funds to build a gallery for the Parthenon sculptures. Designed by the American architect John Russell Pope, it was completed in 1938. The appearance of the exhibition galleries began to change as dark Victorian reds gave way to modern pastel shades. [f] However, in August 1939, due to the imminence of war and the likelihood of air-raids, the Parthenon Sculptures, along with the museum's most valued collections, were dispersed to secure basements, country houses, Aldwych Underground station, the National Library of Wales and a quarry. The evacuation was timely, for in 1940 the Duveen Gallery was severely damaged by bombing. [39] Meanwhile, prior to the war, the Nazis had sent a researcher to the British Museum for several years with the aim of "compiling an anti-Semitic history of Anglo-Jewry". [40] After the war, the museum continued to collect from all countries and all centuries: among the most spectacular additions were the 2600 BC Mesopotamian treasure from Ur, discovered during Leonard Woolley's 1922–34 excavations. Gold, silver and garnet grave goods from the Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo (1939) and late Roman silver tableware from Mildenhall, Suffolk (1946). The immediate post-war years were taken up with the return of the collections from protection and the restoration of the museum after the Blitz. Work also began on restoring the damaged Duveen Gallery.

A new public face (1950–1975) Edit

In 1953, the museum celebrated its bicentenary. Many changes followed: the first full-time in-house designer and publications officer were appointed in 1964, the Friends organisation was set up in 1968, an Education Service established in 1970 and publishing house in 1973. In 1963, a new Act of Parliament introduced administrative reforms. It became easier to lend objects, the constitution of the board of trustees changed and the Natural History Museum became fully independent. By 1959 the Coins and Medals office suite, completely destroyed during the war, was rebuilt and re-opened, attention turned towards the gallery work with new tastes in design leading to the remodelling of Robert Smirke's Classical and Near Eastern galleries. [41] In 1962 the Duveen Gallery was finally restored and the Parthenon Sculptures were moved back into it, once again at the heart of the museum. [g]

By the 1970s the museum was again expanding. More services for the public were introduced visitor numbers soared, with the temporary exhibition "Treasures of Tutankhamun" in 1972, attracting 1,694,117 visitors, the most successful in British history. In the same year the Act of Parliament establishing the British Library was passed, separating the collection of manuscripts and printed books from the British Museum. This left the museum with antiquities coins, medals and paper money prints & drawings and ethnography. A pressing problem was finding space for additions to the library which now required an extra 1 + 1 ⁄ 4 miles (2.0 km) of shelving each year. The Government suggested a site at St Pancras for the new British Library but the books did not leave the museum until 1997.

The Great Court emerges (1975–2000) Edit

The departure of the British Library to a new site at St Pancras, finally achieved in 1998, provided the space needed for the books. It also created the opportunity to redevelop the vacant space in Robert Smirke's 19th-century central quadrangle into the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court – the largest covered square in Europe – which opened in 2000. The ethnography collections, which had been housed in the short-lived Museum of Mankind at 6 Burlington Gardens from 1970, were returned to new purpose-built galleries in the museum in 2000.

The museum again readjusted its collecting policies as interest in "modern" objects: prints, drawings, medals and the decorative arts reawakened. Ethnographical fieldwork was carried out in places as diverse as New Guinea, Madagascar, Romania, Guatemala and Indonesia and there were excavations in the Near East, Egypt, Sudan and the UK. The Weston Gallery of Roman Britain, opened in 1997, displayed a number of recently discovered hoards which demonstrated the richness of what had been considered an unimportant part of the Roman Empire. The museum turned increasingly towards private funds for buildings, acquisitions and other purposes. [43]

The British Museum today Edit

Today the museum no longer houses collections of natural history, and the books and manuscripts it once held now form part of the independent British Library. The museum nevertheless preserves its universality in its collections of artefacts representing the cultures of the world, ancient and modern. The original 1753 collection has grown to over 13 million objects at the British Museum, 70 million at the Natural History Museum and 150 million at the British Library.

The Round Reading Room, which was designed by the architect Sydney Smirke, opened in 1857. For almost 150 years researchers came here to consult the museum's vast library. The Reading Room closed in 1997 when the national library (the British Library) moved to a new building at St Pancras. Today it has been transformed into the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Centre.

With the bookstacks in the central courtyard of the museum empty, the demolition for Lord Foster's glass-roofed Great Court could begin. The Great Court, opened in 2000, while undoubtedly improving circulation around the museum, was criticised for having a lack of exhibition space at a time when the museum was in serious financial difficulties and many galleries were closed to the public. At the same time the African collections that had been temporarily housed in 6 Burlington Gardens were given a new gallery in the North Wing funded by the Sainsbury family – with the donation valued at £25 million. [44]

As part of its very large website, the museum has the largest online database of objects in the collection of any museum in the world, with 2,000,000 individual object entries, 650,000 of them illustrated, online at the start of 2012. [45] There is also a "Highlights" database with longer entries on over 4,000 objects, and several specialised online research catalogues and online journals (all free to access). [46] In 2013 the museum's website received 19.5 millions visits, an increase of 47% from the previous year. [47]

In 2013 the museum received a record 6.7 million visitors, an increase of 20% from the previous year. [47] Popular exhibitions including "Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum" and "Ice Age Art" are credited with helping fuel the increase in visitors. [48] Plans were announced in September 2014 to recreate the entire building along with all exhibits in the video game Minecraft in conjunction with members of the public. [49]

The British Museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport through a three-year funding agreement. Its head is the Director of the British Museum. The British Museum was run from its inception by a 'principal librarian' (when the book collections were still part of the museum), a role that was renamed 'director and principal librarian' in 1898, and 'director' in 1973 (on the separation of the British Library). [50]

A board of 25 trustees (with the director as their accounting officer for the purposes of reporting to Government) is responsible for the general management and control of the museum, in accordance with the British Museum Act 1963 and the Museums and Galleries Act 1992. [51] Prior to the 1963 Act, it was chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor and the Speaker of the House of Commons. The board was formed on the museum's inception to hold its collections in trust for the nation without actually owning them themselves, and now fulfil a mainly advisory role. Trustee appointments are governed by the regulatory framework set out in the code of practice on public appointments issued by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. [52]

The Greek Revival façade facing Great Russell Street is a characteristic building of Sir Robert Smirke, with 44 columns in the Ionic order 45 ft (14 m) high, closely based on those of the temple of Athena Polias at Priene in Asia Minor. The pediment over the main entrance is decorated by sculptures by Sir Richard Westmacott depicting The Progress of Civilisation, consisting of fifteen allegorical figures, installed in 1852.

The construction commenced around the courtyard with the East Wing (The King's Library) in 1823–1828, followed by the North Wing in 1833–1838, which originally housed among other galleries a reading room, now the Wellcome Gallery. Work was also progressing on the northern half of the West Wing (The Egyptian Sculpture Gallery) 1826–1831, with Montagu House demolished in 1842 to make room for the final part of the West Wing, completed in 1846, and the South Wing with its great colonnade, initiated in 1843 and completed in 1847, when the Front Hall and Great Staircase were opened to the public. [53] The museum is faced with Portland stone, but the perimeter walls and other parts of the building were built using Haytor granite from Dartmoor in South Devon, transported via the unique Haytor Granite Tramway. [54]

In 1846 Robert Smirke was replaced as the museum's architect by his brother Sydney Smirke, whose major addition was the Round Reading Room 1854–1857 at 140 feet (43 m) in diameter it was then the second widest dome in the world, the Pantheon in Rome being slightly wider.

The next major addition was the White Wing 1882–1884 added behind the eastern end of the South Front, the architect being Sir John Taylor.

In 1895, Parliament gave the museum trustees a loan of £200,000 to purchase from the Duke of Bedford all 69 houses which backed onto the museum building in the five surrounding streets – Great Russell Street, Montague Street, Montague Place, Bedford Square and Bloomsbury Street. [55] The trustees planned to demolish these houses and to build around the west, north and east sides of the museum new galleries that would completely fill the block on which the museum stands. The architect Sir John James Burnet was petitioned to put forward ambitious long-term plans to extend the building on all three sides. Most of the houses in Montague Place were knocked down a few years after the sale. Of this grand plan only the Edward VII galleries in the centre of the North Front were ever constructed, these were built 1906–14 to the design by J.J. Burnet, and opened by King George V and Queen Mary in 1914. They now house the museum's collections of Prints and Drawings and Oriental Antiquities. There was not enough money to put up more new buildings, and so the houses in the other streets are nearly all still standing.

The Duveen Gallery, sited to the west of the Egyptian, Greek & Assyrian sculpture galleries, was designed to house the Elgin Marbles by the American Beaux-Arts architect John Russell Pope. Although completed in 1938, it was hit by a bomb in 1940 and remained semi-derelict for 22 years, before reopening in 1962. Other areas damaged during World War II bombing included: in September 1940 two unexploded bombs hit the Edward VII galleries, the King's Library received a direct hit from a high explosive bomb, incendiaries fell on the dome of the Round Reading Room but did little damage on the night of 10 to 11 May 1941 several incendiaries fell on the south-west corner of the museum, destroying the book stack and 150,000 books in the courtyard and the galleries around the top of the Great Staircase – this damage was not fully repaired until the early 1960s. [56]

The Queen Elizabeth II Great Court is a covered square at the centre of the British Museum designed by the engineers Buro Happold and the architects Foster and Partners. [57] The Great Court opened in December 2000 and is the largest covered square in Europe. The roof is a glass and steel construction, built by an Austrian steelwork company, [58] with 1,656 uniquely shaped panes of glass. At the centre of the Great Court is the Reading Room vacated by the British Library, its functions now moved to St Pancras. The Reading Room is open to any member of the public who wishes to read there.

Today, the British Museum has grown to become one of the largest museums in the world, covering an area of over 92,000 m 2 (990,000 sq. ft). [3] [ failed verification ] [59] In addition to 21,600 m 2 (232,000 sq. ft) [60] of on-site storage space, and 9,400 m 2 (101,000 sq. ft) [60] of external storage space. Altogether the British Museum showcases on public display less than 1% [60] of its entire collection, approximately 50,000 items. [61] There are nearly one hundred galleries open to the public, representing 2 miles (3.2 km) of exhibition space, although the less popular ones have restricted opening times. However, the lack of a large temporary exhibition space has led to the £135 million World Conservation and Exhibition Centre to provide one and to concentrate all the museum's conservation facilities into one Conservation Centre. This project was announced in July 2007, with the architects Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners. It was granted planning permission in December 2009 and was completed in time for the Viking exhibition in March 2014. [62] [63]

Blythe House in West Kensington is used by the museum for off-site storage of small and medium-sized artefacts, and Franks House in East London is used for storage and work on the "Early Prehistory" – Palaeolithic and Mesolithic – and some other collections. [64]

Department of Egypt and Sudan Edit

The British Museum houses the world's largest [h] and most comprehensive collection of Egyptian antiquities (with over 100,000 [65] pieces) outside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. A collection of immense importance for its range and quality, it includes objects of all periods from virtually every site of importance in Egypt and the Sudan. Together, they illustrate every aspect of the cultures of the Nile Valley (including Nubia), from the Predynastic Neolithic period (c. 10,000 BC) through Coptic (Christian) times (12th century AD), and up to the present day, a time-span over 11,000 years. [66]

Egyptian antiquities have formed part of the British Museum collection ever since its foundation in 1753 after receiving 160 Egyptian objects [67] from Sir Hans Sloane. After the defeat of the French forces under Napoleon at the Battle of the Nile in 1801, the Egyptian antiquities collected were confiscated by the British army and presented to the British Museum in 1803. These works, which included the famed Rosetta Stone, were the first important group of large sculptures to be acquired by the museum. Thereafter, the UK appointed Henry Salt as consul in Egypt who amassed a huge collection of antiquities, some of which were assembled and transported with great ingenuity by the famous Italian explorer Giovanni Belzoni. Most of the antiquities Salt collected were purchased by the British Museum and the Musée du Louvre.

By 1866 the collection consisted of some 10,000 objects. Antiquities from excavations started to come to the museum in the latter part of the 19th century as a result of the work of the Egypt Exploration Fund under the efforts of E.A. Wallis Budge. Over the years more than 11,000 objects came from this source, including pieces from Amarna, Bubastis and Deir el-Bahari. Other organisations and individuals also excavated and donated objects to the British Museum, including Flinders Petrie's Egypt Research Account and the British School of Archaeology in Egypt, as well as the University of Oxford Expedition to Kawa and Faras in Sudan.

Active support by the museum for excavations in Egypt continued to result in important acquisitions throughout the 20th century until changes in antiquities laws in Egypt led to the suspension of policies allowing finds to be exported, although divisions still continue in Sudan. The British Museum conducted its own excavations in Egypt where it received divisions of finds, including Asyut (1907), Mostagedda and Matmar (1920s), Ashmunein (1980s) and sites in Sudan such as Soba, Kawa and the Northern Dongola Reach (1990s). The size of the Egyptian collections now stand at over 110,000 objects. [68]

In autumn 2001 the eight million objects forming the museum's permanent collection were further expanded by the addition of six million objects from the Wendorf Collection of Egyptian and Sudanese Prehistory. [69] These were donated by Professor Fred Wendorf of Southern Methodist University in Texas, and comprise the entire collection of artefacts and environmental remains from his excavations at Prehistoric sites in the Sahara Desert between 1963 and 1997. Other fieldwork collections have recently come from Dietrich and Rosemarie Klemm (University of Munich) and William Adams (University of Kentucky).

The seven permanent Egyptian galleries at the British Museum, which include its largest exhibition space (Room 4, for monumental sculpture), can display only 4% of its Egyptian holdings. The second-floor galleries have a selection of the museum's collection of 140 mummies and coffins, the largest outside Cairo. A high proportion of the collection comes from tombs or contexts associated with the cult of the dead, and it is these pieces, in particular the mummies, that remain among the most eagerly sought-after exhibits by visitors to the museum.

Highlights of the collections include:

Predynastic and Early Dynastic period (c. 6000 BC – c.2690 BC)

  • Mummy of Ginger and five other individuals from Gebelein, (c.3400 BC)
  • Flint knife with an ivory handle (known as the Pit-Rivers Knife), Sheikh Hamada, Egypt (c.3100 BC)
  • The Battlefield Palette and Hunters Palette, two cosmetic palettes with complex decorative schemes, (c.3100 BC)
  • Ivory statuette of a king, from the early temple at Abydos, Egypt (c.3000 BC) 's sandal label from Abydos, mid-1st Dynasty (c.2985 BC)
  • Stela of King Peribsen, Abydos (c.2720–2710 BC)

Old Kingdom (2690–2181 BC)

  • Artefacts from the tomb of King Khasekhemwy from the 2nd Dynasty (2690 BC)
  • Granite statue of Ankhwa, the shipbuilder, Saqqara, Egypt, 3rd Dynasty, (c.2650 BC)
  • Several of the original casing stones from the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, (c.2570 BC)
  • Statue of Nenkheftka from Deshasha, 4th Dynasty (2500 BC)
  • Limestone false door of Ptahshepses, Saqqara (2440 BC) , some of the oldest papyri from ancient Egypt, Abusir (2400 BC)
  • Wooden tomb statue of Tjeti, 5th to 6th Dynasty (about 2345–2181 BC)

Middle Kingdom (2134–1690 BC)

  • Inner and outer coffin of Sebekhetepi, Beni Hasan, (about 2125–1795 BC)
  • Quartzite statue of Ankhrekhu, 12th Dynasty (1985–1795 BC)
  • Limestone stela of Heqaib, Abydos, Egypt, 12th Dynasty, (1990–1750 BC)
  • Block statue and stela of Sahathor, 12th Dynasty, reign of Amenemhat II, (1922–1878 BC)
  • Limestone statue and stelae from the offering chapel of Inyotef, Abydos, 12th Dynasty (c.1920 BC)
  • Stela of Samontu, Abydos, (1910 BC)
  • Reliefs from the tomb of Djehutyhotep, Deir-el-Bersha, (1878–1855 BC)
  • Three Granite statues of Senwosret III, Deir el-Bahri, (1850 BC)
  • Statue of Rehuankh, Abydos, (1850–1830 BC)
  • Colossal head of Amenemhat III, Bubastis, (1800 BC)
  • Stela of Nebipusenwosret, Abydos, (1800 BC)

Second Itermediate Period (1650–1550 BC)

New Kingdom (1549–1069 BC)

  • Schist head of Pharaoh Hatshepsut or her successor Tuthmosis III (1480 BC)
  • Statue of Senenmut with Princess Neferure on his lap, Karnak, (1470 BC)
  • Block statue of Sennefer, Western Thebes, (1430 BC)
  • Twenty Sekhmet statues from the Temple of Mut, Thebes, (1400 BC)
  • Fragment of the beard of the Great Sphinx of Giza, (14th century BC)
  • Pair of granite monumental lion statues from Soleb in Sudan, (1370 BC)
  • Hoard of silver bullion from El-Amarna, (1352-1336 BC) of Amenhotep III, (1350 BC)
  • Colossal limestone bust of Amenhotep III, (1350 BC) , 99 out of 382 tablets found, second greatest collection in the world after the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin (203 tablets), (1350 BC)
  • Stela of Horemheb from his tomb at Saqqara, (1330 BC) with 61 medical and magical treatments, (1300 BC) , one of the finest extant Book of the Dead from antiquity, Thebes, (1275 BC) of Egypt from the Temple of Ramesses II, (1250 BC)
  • Statue of Khaemwaset, son of Ramses II, Abydos, (1250 BC)
  • The Great Harris Papyrus, the longest surviving papyrus from antiquity, Thebes, (1200 BC) with the Tale of Two Brothers, (1200–1194 BC)
  • Seated statue of Seti II, Temple of Mut, Karnak, (1200–1194 BC)
  • Face from the sarcophagus of Ramses VI, Valley of the Kings, (1140 BC)
  • Book of the Dead of Nedjmet with painted offering-vignettes and columns of Hieroglyphic text, Deir el-Bahari, (1070 BC)

Third Intermediate Period (1069–664 BC)

  • Pair of gold bracelets that belonged to General Nemareth, son of Shoshenq I, Sais, (940 BC)
  • Colossal column capital of Hathor from Bubastis, 22nd Dynasty, (922–887 BC)
  • Statue of the Nile god Hapy, Karnak, (c.900 BC)
  • Mummy case and coffin of Nesperennub, Thebes, (c.800 BC) from Memphis, Egypt, 25th Dynasty (around 700 BC)
  • Coffin of king Menkaure, Giza, (700–600 BC)
  • One of the three statues of Amun in the form of a ram protecting King Taharqo, Kawa, (683 BC)
  • Inner and outer coffins of the priest Hor, Deir el-Bahari, Thebes, 25th Dynasty, (about 680 BC)
  • Granite statue of the Sphinx of Taharqo, (680 BC)

Late Period (664–332 BC)

  • Saite Sarcophagus of Sasobek, the vizier (prime minister) of the northern part of Egypt in the reign of Psammetichus I (664–610 BC)
  • Sarcophagus lid of Sasobek, (630 BC)
  • Bronze figure of Isis and Horus, North Saqqara, Egypt (600 BC)
  • Sarcophagus of Hapmen, Cairo, 26th Dynasty or later, (600–300 BC)
  • Kneeling statue of Wahibre, from near Lake Mariout, (530 BC) of Ankhnesneferibre, (525 BC)
  • Torso of Nectanebo I, (380–362 BC) and sarcophagus of Pharaoh Nectanebo II, (360–343 BC)
  • Sarcophagus of Nectanebo II, Alexandria, (360–343 BC)

Ptolemaic dynasty (305–30 BC)

  • The famous Rosetta Stone, trilingual stela that unlocked the ancient Egyptian civilisation (196 BC) or temple shrine of Ptolemy VIII from Philae, (150 BC)
  • Giant sculpture of a scarab beetle, (32–30 BC)
  • Fragment of a basalt Egyptian-style statue of Ptolemy I Soter, (305–283 BC)
  • Mummy of Hornedjitef (inner coffin), Thebes, (3rd century BC)
  • Wall from a chapel of Queen Shanakdakhete, Meroë, (c.150 BC) of Ptolemy VII, Philae (c.150 BC)

Roman Period (30 BC-641 AD)

  • Schist head of a young man, Alexandria, (after 30 BC)
  • The Meriotic Hamadab Stela from the Kingdom of Kush found near the ancient site of Meroë in Sudan, 24 BC
  • Lid of the coffin of Soter and Cleopatra from Qurna, Thebes, (early 2nd century AD)
  • Mummy of a youth with a portrait of the deceased, Hawara, (100–200 AD)
  • Over 30 Fayum mummy portraits from Hawara and other sites in Fayum, (40–250 AD)
  • Bronze lamp and patera from the X-group tombs, Qasr Ibrim, (1st–6th centuries AD)
  • Coptic wall painting of the martyrdom of saints, Wadi Sarga, (6th century AD)

Room 64 - Egyptian grave containing a Gebelein predynastic mummy, late predynastic, 3400 BC

Room 4 – Three black granite statues of the pharaoh Senusret III, c. 1850 BC

Room 4 – Three black granite statues of the goddess Sakhmet, c. 1400 BC

Room 4 – Colossal statue of Amenhotep III, c. 1370 BC

Room 4 - Limestone statue of a husband and wife, 1300-1250 BC

Room 63 - Gilded outer coffins from the tomb of Henutmehyt, Thebes, Egypt, 19th Dynasty, 1250 BC

Book of the Dead of Hunefer, sheet 5, 19th Dynasty, 1250 BC

Room 4 - Ancient Egyptian bronze statue of a cat from the Late Period, about 664–332 BC

Room 4 - Green siltstone head of a Pharaoh, 26th-30th Dynasty, 600-340 BC

Great Court - Black siltstone obelisk of King Nectanebo II of Egypt, Thirtieth dynasty, about 350 BC

Room 62 - Detail from the mummy case of Artemidorus the Younger, a Greek who had settled in Thebes, Egypt, during Roman times, 100-200 AD

Department of Greece and Rome Edit

The British Museum has one of the world's largest and most comprehensive collections of antiquities from the Classical world, with over 100,000 objects. [70] These mostly range in date from the beginning of the Greek Bronze Age (about 3200 BC) to the establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, with the Edict of Milan under the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine I in 313 AD. Archaeology was in its infancy during the nineteenth century and many pioneering individuals began excavating sites across the Classical world, chief among them for the museum were Charles Newton, John Turtle Wood, Robert Murdoch Smith and Charles Fellows.

The Greek objects originate from across the Ancient Greek world, from the mainland of Greece and the Aegean Islands, to neighbouring lands in Asia Minor and Egypt in the eastern Mediterranean and as far as the western lands of Magna Graecia that include Sicily and southern Italy. The Cycladic, Minoan and Mycenaean cultures are represented, and the Greek collection includes important sculpture from the Parthenon in Athens, as well as elements of two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and the Temple of Artemis at Ephesos. [70]

Beginning from the early Bronze Age, the department also houses one of the widest-ranging collections of Italic and Etruscan antiquities outside Italy, as well as extensive groups of material from Cyprus and non-Greek colonies in Lycia and Caria on Asia Minor. There is some material from the Roman Republic, but the collection's strength is in its comprehensive array of objects from across the Roman Empire, with the exception of Britain (which is the mainstay of the Department of Prehistory and Europe).

The collections of ancient jewellery and bronzes, Greek vases (many from graves in southern Italy that were once part of Sir William Hamilton's and Chevalier Durand's collections), Roman glass including the famous Cameo glass Portland Vase, Roman gold glass (the second largest collection after the Vatican Museums), Roman mosaics from Carthage and Utica in North Africa that were excavated by Nathan Davis, and silver hoards from Roman Gaul (some of which were bequeathed by the philanthropist and museum trustee Richard Payne Knight), are particularly important. Cypriot antiquities are strong too and have benefited from the purchase of Sir Robert Hamilton Lang's collection as well as the bequest of Emma Turner in 1892, which funded many excavations on the island. Roman sculptures (many of which are copies of Greek originals) are particularly well represented by the Townley collection as well as residual sculptures from the famous Farnese collection.

Objects from the Department of Greece and Rome are located throughout the museum, although many of the architectural monuments are to be found on the ground floor, with connecting galleries from Gallery 5 to Gallery 23. On the upper floor, there are galleries devoted to smaller material from ancient Italy, Greece, Cyprus and the Roman Empire.

Highlights of the collections include:

  • Two colossal free-standing figures identified as Maussollos and his wife Artemisia, (c. 350 BC)
  • Part of an impressive horse from the chariot group adorning the summit of the Mausoleum, (c. 350 BC)
  • The Amazonomachy frieze – A long section of relief frieze showing the battle between Greeks and Amazons, (c. 350 BC)
  • One of the sculptured column bases, (340–320 BC)
  • Part of the Ionic frieze situated above the colonnade, (330–300 BC)
  • Lion Tomb, (550–500 BC) , (480–470 BC) , partial reconstruction of a large and elaborate Lykian tomb, (390–380 BC)
  • Tomb of Merehi, (390–350 BC) , (375–350 BC)
  • Bilingual Decree of Pixodaros, (340 BC)

Prehistoric Greece and Italy (3300 BC – 8th century BC)

  • Over thirty Cycladic figures from islands in the Aegean Sea, many collected by James Theodore Bent, Greece, (3300–2000 BC)
  • A large Gaudo cultureaskos from Paestum, southern Italy, (2800–2400 BC) Hoard of wood working metal tools from the island of Naxos, Greece, (2700–2200 BC)
  • Two pottery kernos from Phylakopi in Melos, Greece (2300–2000 BC)
  • Material from the Palace of Knossos including a huge pottery storage jar, some donated by Sir Arthur Evans, Crete, Greece, (1900–1100 BC)
  • The Minoan gold treasure from Aegina, northern Aegean, Greece, (1850–1550 BC)
  • Artefacts from the Psychro Cave in Crete, including two serpentine libation tables, (1700–1450 BC)
  • Bronze Minoan Bull-leaper from Rethymnon, Crete, (1600–1450 BC)
  • Segments of the columns and architraves from the Treasury of Atreus, Peloponnese, Greece, (1350–1250 BC)
  • Ivory game board found at Enkomi, Cyprus, (12th Century BC) hoard of bronze artefacts found at Santa Maria in Paulis, Cagliari, Sardinia, (1100–900 BC) Amphora, highly decorated pottery vase attributed to the Dipylon Master, Athens, Greece, (8th century BC)
  • Votive offerings from the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia at Sparta, (8th Century BC)

Etruscan (8th century BC – 1st century BC)

  • Gold jewellery and other rich artefacts from the Castellani and Galeassi Tombs in Palestrina, central Italy, (8th–6th centuries BC)
  • Ornate gold fibula with granulated parade of animals from the Bernardini Tomb, Cerveteri, (675–650 BC)
  • Various objects including two small terracotta statues from the "Tomb of the five chairs" in Cerveteri (625–600 BC) from Sant'Angelo Muxaro, Sicily, (600 BC)
  • Contents of the Isis tomb and François Tomb, Vulci, (570–560 BC)
  • Painted terracotta plaques (the so-called Boccanera Plaques) from a tomb in Cerveteri, (560–550 BC)
  • Decorated silver panels from Castel San Marino, near Perugia (540–520 BC)
  • Statuette of a bronze votive figure from Pizzidimonte, near Prato, Italy (500–480 BC)
  • Bronze helmet with inscription commemorating the Battle of Cumae, Olympia, Greece, (480 BC)
  • Bronze votive statuettes from the Lake of the Idols, Monte Falterona, (420–400 BC)
  • Part of a symposium set of bronze vessels from the tomb of Larth Metie, Bolsena, Italy, (400-300 BC)
  • Exquisite gold ear-ring with female head pendant, one of a pair from Perugia, (300–200 BC) , one of the most important inscriptions in the Oscan language, (300–100 BC)
  • Hoard of gold jewelry from Sant'Eufemia Lamezia, southern Italy, (340–330 BC) bronze figure from the Sanctuary of Diana, Lake Nemi, Latium, (200–100 BC) from Chiusi, (150–140 BC)

Ancient Greece (8th century BC – 4th century AD)

  • Orientalising gold jewelry from the Camirus cemetery in Rhodes, (700–600 BC)
  • Group of life-size archaic statues from the Sacred Way at Didyma, western Turkey, (600–580 BC) of a rider and horse from Armento, southern Italy (550 BC)
  • Bronze head of an axe from San Sosti, southern Italy, (520 BC)
  • Statue of a nude standing youth from Marion, Cyprus, (520–510 BC)
  • Large terracotta sarcophagus and lid with painted scenes from Klazomenai, western Turkey, (510–480 BC)
  • Two bronze tablets in the Locrian Greek dialect from Galaxidi, central Greece, (500-475 BC)
  • Fragments from a large bronze equestrian statue of the Taranto Rider, southern Italy, (480–460 BC) Head, Tamassos, Cyprus (460 BC)
  • Statue of recumbent bull from the Dipylon Cemetery, Athens (4th century BC)
  • Hoard of gold jewelry from Avola, Sicily, (370–300 BC) from Priene in Turkey (330 BC)
  • Head from the colossal statue of the Asclepius of Milos, Greece, (325–300 BC) , Ornamental gold fibula reflecting Celtic and Greek influences (3rd century BC)
  • Hoard of silver patera from Èze, southeastern France, (3rd century BC) from an Orphic sanctuary in southern Italy (3rd–2nd centuries BC)
  • Marble relief of the Apotheosis of Homer from Bovillae, central Italy, (221–205 BC)
  • Bronze sculpture of a Greek poet known as the Arundel Head, western Turkey, (2nd–1st centuries BC)
  • Remains of the Scylla monument at Bargylia, south west Anatolia, Turkey, (200–150 BC) of the statue of Aphrodite of Satala (1st century BC) from Paramythia (2nd century AD)
  • Large statue of Europa sitting on the back of a bull from the amphitheatre at Gortyna, Crete, (100 BC)

Ancient Rome (1st century BC – 4th century AD)

  • Pair of engraved oval agate plaques depicting Livia as Diana and Octavian as Mercury, (Rome, 30-25 BC) from Corinth, Greece (30–10 BC) from Meroë in Sudan (27–25 BC)
  • Cameo glass Portland Vase, the most famous glass vessel from ancient Rome, (1–25 AD)
  • Silver Warren Cup with homoerotic scenes, found near Jerusalem, (5–15 AD) (or "Sword of Tiberius") and Blacas Cameo, depicting Roman emperors in triumph (15 AD) in decorated silver-plated bronze from Xanten, Germany (1st century AD)
  • Pair of carved fluorite cups known as the Barber Cup and Crawford Cup (100 AD)
  • Athlete statue, "Vaison Diadumenos", from an ancient Roman city in southern France (118–138 AD)
  • A hoard of silver votive plaques dedicated to the Roman God Jupiter Dolichenus, discovered in Heddernheim, near Frankfurt, Germany, (1st–2nd centuries AD) [71] and Bronze Head of Hypnos from Civitella d'Arna, Italy, (1st–2nd centuries AD)
  • Part of a large wooden wheel for draining a copper mine in Huelva, southern Spain, (1st–2nd centuries AD)
  • Capitals from some of the pilasters of the Pantheon, Rome, (126 AD)
  • Colossal marble head of Faustina the Elder, wife of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius from Sardis, western Turkey, (140 AD)
  • Marble throne from the prohedria of the Panathenaic Stadium, Athens, (140–143 AD)
  • Hoard of jewellery from a tomb in the vicinity of Miletopolis, Turkey, (175–180 AD)
  • Inscribed marble base of the Roman Consul Tiberius Claudius Candidus, unearthed in Tarragona, Spain (195–199 AD) , a statue of a Molossian guard dog, central Italy, (2nd century AD)
  • Segment of a decorated marble balustrade from the Colosseum, Rome, (2nd century AD)
  • Various silver treasures found at Arcisate, Beaurains, Boscoreale, Bursa, Chaourse, Caubiac, Chatuzange, Conimbriga, Mâcon and Revel-Tourdan (1st–3rd century AD)
  • Votive statue of Apollo of Cyrene, Libya (2nd century AD) found near Düsseldorf in Germany (2nd–3rd centuries AD)

The collection encompasses architectural, sculptural and epigraphic items from many other sites across the classical world including Amathus, Atripalda, Aphrodisias, Delos, Iasos, Idalion, Lindus, Kalymnos, Kerch, Rhamnous, Salamis, Sestos, Sounion, Tomis and Thessanoloki.

Room 12 – A gold earring from the Aegina Treasure, Greece, 1700-1500 BC

Room 18 – Parthenon statuary from the east pediment and Metopes from the south wall, Athens, Greece, 447-438 BC

Room 19 – Caryatid and Ionian column from the Erechtheion, Acropolis of Athens, Greece, 420-415 BC

Room 21 – Fragmentary horse from the colossal chariot group which topped the podium of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Turkey, c. 350 BC

Room 22 - Gold oak wreath with a bee and two cicadas, western Turkey, c. 350-300 BC

Room 22 – Column from the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Turkey, early 4th century BC

Room 22 - Colossal head of Asclepius wearing a metal crown (now lost), from a cult statue on Melos, Greece, 325-300 BC

Room 1 - Farnese Hermes in the Enlightenment Gallery, Italy, 1st century AD

Room 69 - Roman gladiator helmet from Pompeii, Italy, 1st century AD

Room 23 - The famous version of the 'Crouching Venus', Roman, c. 1st century AD

Room 22 – Roman marble copy of the famous 'Spinario (Boy with Thorn)', Italy, c. 1st century AD

Room 22 – Apollo of Cyrene (holding a lyre), Libya, c. 2nd century AD

Department of the Middle East Edit

With a collection numbering some 330,000 works, [72] the British Museum possesses the world's largest and most important collection of Mesopotamian antiquities outside Iraq. A collection of immense importance, the holdings of Assyrian sculpture, Babylonian and Sumerian antiquities are among the most comprehensive in the world with entire suites of rooms panelled in alabaster Assyrian palace reliefs from Nimrud, Nineveh and Khorsabad.

The collections represent the civilisations of the ancient Near East and its adjacent areas. These cover Mesopotamia, Persia, the Arabian Peninsula, Anatolia, the Caucasus, parts of Central Asia, Syria, the Holy Land and Phoenician settlements in the western Mediterranean from the prehistoric period and include objects from the beginning of Islam in the 7th century.

The first significant addition of Mesopotamian objects was from the collection of Claudius James Rich in 1825. The collection was later dramatically enlarged by the excavations of A. H. Layard at the Assyrian sites of Nimrud and Nineveh between 1845 and 1851. At Nimrud, Layard discovered the North-West Palace of Ashurnasirpal II, as well as three other palaces and various temples. He later uncovered the Palace of Sennacherib at Nineveh with 'no less than seventy-one halls'. As a result, a large numbers of Lamassu's, palace reliefs, stelae, including the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, were brought to the British Museum.

Layard's work was continued by his assistant, Hormuzd Rassam and in 1852–1854 he went on to discover the North Palace of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh with many magnificent reliefs, including the famous Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal and Lachish reliefs. He also discovered the Royal Library of Ashurbanipal, a large collection of cuneiform tablets of enormous importance that today number around 130,000 pieces. W. K. Loftus excavated in Nimrud between 1850 and 1855 and found a remarkable hoard of ivories in the Burnt Palace. Between 1878 and 1882 Rassam greatly improved the museum's holdings with exquisite objects including the Cyrus Cylinder from Babylon, the bronze gates from Balawat, important objects from Sippar, and a fine collection of Urartian bronzes from Toprakkale including a copper figurine of a winged, human-headed bull.

In the early 20th century excavations were carried out at Carchemish, Turkey by D. G. Hogarth and Leonard Woolley, the latter assisted by T. E. Lawrence. The Mesopotamian collections were greatly augmented by excavations in southern Iraq after the First World War. From Tell al-Ubaid came the bronze furnishings of a Sumerian temple, including life-sized lions and a panel featuring the lion-headed eagle Indugud found by H. R. Hall in 1919–24. Woolley went on to excavate Ur between 1922 and 1934, discovering the 'Royal Cemeteries' of the 3rd millennium BC. Some of the masterpieces include the 'Standard of Ur', the 'Ram in a Thicket', the 'Royal Game of Ur', and two bull-headed lyres. The department also has three diorite statues of the ruler Gudea from the ancient state of Lagash and a series of limestone kudurru or boundary stones from different locations across ancient Mesopotamia.

Although the collections centre on Mesopotamia, most of the surrounding areas are well represented. The Achaemenid collection was enhanced with the addition of the Oxus Treasure in 1897 and objects excavated by the German scholar Ernst Herzfeld and the Hungarian-British explorer Sir Aurel Stein. Reliefs and sculptures from the site of Persepolis were donated by Sir Gore Ouseley in 1825 and the 5th Earl of Aberdeen in 1861 and the museum received part of a pot-hoard of jewellery from Pasargadae as the division of finds in 1963 and part of the Ziwiye hoard in 1971. A large column base from the One Hundred Column Hall at Persepolis was acquired in exchange from the Oriental Institute, Chicago. Moreover, the museum has been able to acquire one of the greatest assemblages of Achaemenid silverware in the world. The later Sasanian Empire is also well represented by ornate silver plates and cups, many representing ruling monarchs hunting lions and deer. Phoenician antiquities come from across the region, but the Tharros collection from Sardinia and the large number of Phoenician stelae from Carthage and Maghrawa are outstanding. The number of Phoenician inscriptions from sites across Cyprus is also considerable, and include artefacts found at the Kition necropolis (with the two Kition Tariffs having the longest Phoenician inscription discovered on the island), the Idalion temple site and two bilingual pedestals found at Tamassos. Another often overlooked highlight is Yemeni antiquities, the finest collection outside that country. Furthermore, the museum has a representative collection of Dilmun and Parthian material excavated from various burial mounds at the ancient sites of A'ali and Shakhura (that included a Roman ribbed glass bowl) in Bahrain.

From the modern state of Syria come almost forty funerary busts from Palmyra and a group of stone reliefs from the excavations of Max von Oppenheim at Tell Halaf that was purchased in 1920. More material followed from the excavations of Max Mallowan at Chagar Bazar and Tell Brak in 1935–1938 and from Woolley at Alalakh in the years just before and after the Second World War. Mallowan returned with his wife Agatha Christie to carry out further digs at Nimrud in the postwar period which secured many important artefacts for the museum. The collection of Palestinian material was strengthened by the work of Kathleen Kenyon at Tell es-Sultan (Jericho) in the 1950s and the acquisition in 1980 of around 17,000 objects found at Lachish by the Wellcome-Marston expedition of 1932–1938. Archaeological digs are still taking place where permitted in the Middle East, and, depending on the country, the museum continues to receive a share of the finds from sites such as Tell es Sa'idiyeh in Jordan.

The museum's collection of Islamic art, including archaeological material, numbers about 40,000 objects, [73] one of the largest of its kind in the world. As such, it contains a broad range of pottery, paintings, tiles, metalwork, glass, seals, and inscriptions from across the Islamic world, from Spain in the west to India in the east. It is particularly famous for its collection of Iznik ceramics (the largest in the world), its large number of mosque lamps including one from the Dome of the Rock, mediaeval metalwork such as the Vaso Vescovali with its depictions of the Zodiac, a fine selection of astrolabes, and Mughal paintings and precious artwork including a large jade terrapin made for the Emperor Jahangir. Thousands of objects were excavated after the war by professional archaeologists at Iranian sites such as Siraf by David Whitehouse and Alamut Castle by Peter Willey. The collection was augmented in 1983 by the Godman bequest of Iznik, Hispano-Moresque and early Iranian pottery. Artefacts from the Islamic world are on display in Gallery 34 of the museum.

A representative selection from the Department of Middle East, including the most important pieces, are on display in 13 galleries throughout the museum and total some 4,500 objects. A whole suite of rooms on the ground floor display the sculptured reliefs from the Assyrian palaces at Nineveh, Nimrud and Khorsabad, while 8 galleries on the upper floor hold smaller material from ancient sites across the Middle East. The remainder form the study collection which ranges in size from beads to large sculptures. They include approximately 130,000 cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia. [74]

Highlights of the collections include:

  • The North-West Palace of Ashurnasirpal II, (883–859 BC)
  • Palace of Adad-nirari III, (811–783 BC)
  • The Sharrat-Niphi Temple, (c. 9th century BC)
  • Temple of Ninurta, (c. 9th century BC)
  • South-East Palace ('Burnt Palace'), (8th–7th century BC)
  • Central- Palace of Tiglath-Pileser III, (745–727 BC)
  • South-West Palace of Esarhaddon, (681–669 BC)
  • The Nabu Temple (Ezida), (c. 7th century BC)

Sculptures and inscriptions:

  • Pair of Human Headed Lamassu Lions, (883–859 BC)
  • Human Headed Lamassu Bull, sister piece in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (883–859 BC)
  • Human Headed Lamassu Lion, sister piece in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, (883–859 BC)
  • Colossal Statue of a Lion, (883–859 BC)
  • Foundation tablet of Ashurnasirpal II from the Temple of Ishtar, (875–865 BC)
  • Rassam Obelisk of Ashurnasirpal II, (873–859 BC) and Statue of King Ashurnasirpal II, (883–859 BC)
  • The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, (858–824 BC) , (824–811 BC)
  • Rare Head of Human Headed 'Lamassu', recovered from the North-West Palace, (811–783 BC)
  • Pair of statues of attendant god dedicated to Nabu by Adad-Nirari III and Sammuramat, (810–800 BC)
  • Bilingual Assyrian lion weights with both cuneiform and Phoenician inscriptions, (800–700 BC)
  • Large sculpture of a male bearded head from a Lamassu with inscription dedicated to Esarhaddon, (670 BC)
  • South-West Palace of Sennacherib, (705–681 BC)
  • North-Palace of Ashurbanipal, (c. 645 BC), including the Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal and Lachish relief
  • The famous Garden Party Relief, (645 BC)
  • Statue of a nude woman, (11th century BC)
  • Broken Obelisk of Ashur-bel-kala, the earliest known Assyrian obelisk, (11th century BC) , (1050–1031 BC)
  • A large collection of cuneiformtablets of enormous importance, approximately 22,000 inscribed clay tablets, (7th century BC)
  • The Flood Tablet, relating part of the famous Epic of Gilgamesh, (7th century BC) , hexagonal clay foundation record, (691 BC) with ten faces, that describes the military campaigns of king Ashurbanipal, (643 BC)
  • Alabaster bas-reliefs from the Palace of Sargon II, (710–705 BC)
  • Pair of Human Headed Winged Lamassu Bulls, (710–705 BC)
  • The Balawat Gates of Shalmaneser III, (860 BC)
  • The Standard of Ur with depictions of war and peace, (2600 BC) and gold drinking cup from Queen Puabi's tomb, (2600 BC)
  • The Ram in a Thicket, one of pair, the other is in Philadelphia, (2600–2400 BC) , an ancient game board, (2600–2400 BC)
    from Jericho, a very early form of portraiture, Palestine, (7000–6000 BC) , one of the oldest portrait busts from the Middle East, north east Syria, (3500–3300 BC) , one of the earliest surviving works of narrative relief sculpture from the Middle East, southern Iraq, (3300–3000 BC)
  • Pair of inscribed stone objects known as the Blau Monuments from Uruk, Iraq, (3100–2700 BC) of Bronze Age gold jewellery found at the Canaanite site of Tell el-Ajjul in Gaza, (1750–1550 BC) from the ancient city of Alalakh, southern Turkey, (1600 BC) bowl and ivory cosmetic box in the shape of a fish from Tell es-Sa'idiyeh, Jordan, (1250–1150 BC)
  • Group of 16 stone reliefs from the palace of King Kapara at Tell Halaf, northern Syria, (10th century BC) , depicting the sun-god Shamash, from Sippar, Iraq, (early 9th century BC) lion head from the monument to King Katuwa at Carchemish, southern Turkey, (9th century BC)
  • Two large Assyrian stelae from Kurkh, southern Turkey, (850 BC)
  • Seated statue of Kidudu or guardian spirit from the Assyrian city of Assur under Shalmaneser III, Iraq, (835 BC)
  • Basalt bowl with engraved inscription in Hieroglyphic Luwian found at Babylon, southern Iraq, (8th century BC) from Siloam near Jerusalem, (7th century BC)
  • Group of 4 bronze shields with inscription of king Rusa III from the temple of Khaldi at the Urartian fortress of Toprakkale, eastern Turkey, (650 BC) from Babylon, Iraq, (604–562 BC) , group of ostraka written in alphabetic Hebrew from Lachish, Israel, (586 BC) , foundation cylinder of King Nabonidus, Sippar, Iraq, (555–540 BC)
  • The famous Oxus Treasure, the largest ancient Persian hoard of gold artefacts, (550–330 BC) , alabaster alabastron with quadrilingual signature of Achaemenid ruler Xerxes I, found in the ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, Turkey, (486–465 BC) , bilingual Cypriot-Phoenician inscription, key to the decipherment of the Cypriot syllabary, Idalion, Cyprus, (388 BC) from the Mausoleum of Ateban, key to the decipherment of the Numidian language, Dougga, Tunisia, (146 BC) found near Sana'a, Yemen, (1st century BC)
  • One of the pottery storage jars containing the Dead Sea Scrolls found in a cave near Qumran, Jordan, (4 BC – 68 AD)
  • Two limestone ossuaries from caves in Jerusalem, (1st century AD)
  • Fragment of a carved basalt architrave depicting a lion's head from the Temple of Garni, Armenia, (1st Century AD)
  • Group of boulders with Safaitic inscriptions from Jordan/Syria, one of which was donated by Gertrude Bell, (1st–2nd centuries AD) gold belt-buckle with central repoussé figure of eagle with outstretched wings from Nihavand, Iran, (1st–3rd centuries AD)
  • Silver bowl from Khwarezm depicting a four-armed goddess seated on a lion, Kazakhstan, (658 AD)
  • One of the rare Hedwig glasses, originating from the Middle East or Norman Sicily, (10th–12th centuries AD)
  • Hoard of Seljuq artefacts from Hamadan including gold cup, silver gilt belt fittings and dress accessories, Iran, (11th–12th centuries) brass ewers with engraved decoration and inlaid with silver and copper from Herat, Afghanistan and Mosul, Iraq (12th–13th centuries AD)

Room 56 – The 'Ram in a Thicket' figure, one of a pair, from Ur, Southern Iraq, c. 2600 BC

Room 56 – The famous 'Standard of Ur', a hollow wooden box with scenes of war and peace, from Ur, c. 2600 BC

Room 56 - Sculpture of the god Imdugud, lion-headed eagle surmounting a lintel made from sheets of copper, Temple of Ninhursag at Tell al-'Ubaid, Iraq, c. 2500 BC

Room 56 - Statue of Kurlil, from the Temple of Ninhursag in Tell al-'Ubaid, southern Iraq, c. 2500 BC

Room 56 – The famous Babylonian 'Queen of the Night relief' of the goddess Ishtar, Iraq, c. 1790 BC

Room 57 - Carved ivory object from the Nimrud Ivories, Phoenician, Nimrud, Iraq, 9th–8th century BC

Room 6 – Depiction of the hypocrite, Jehu, King of Israel on the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, Nimrud, c. 827 BC

Room 10 – Human Headed Winged Bulls from Khorsabad, companion pieces in the Musée du Louvre, Iraq, 710–705 BC

Room 55 – Cuneiform Collection, including the Epic of Gilgamesh, Iraq, c. 669-631 BC

Room 55 – Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal (detail), Nineveh, Neo-Assyrian, Iraq, c. 645 BC

Room 55 - Panel with striding lion made from glazed bricks, Neo-Babylonian, Nebuchadnezzar II, Southern Iraq, 604–562 BC

Room 52 – A chariot from the Oxus Treasure, the most important surviving collection of Achaemenid Persian metalwork, c. 5th to 4th centuries BC

Room 53 - Stela said to come from Tamma' cemetery, Yemen, 1st century AD

Room 53 - Alabaster statue of a standing female figure, Yemen, 1st-2nd centuries AD

Room 34 - Cylindrical lidded box with an Arabic inscription recording its manufacture for the ruler of Mosul, Badr al-Din Lu'lu', Iraq, c. 1233 – 1259 AD

Department of Prints and Drawings Edit

The Department of Prints and Drawings holds the national collection of Western prints and drawings. It ranks as one of the largest and best print room collections in existence alongside the Albertina in Vienna, the Paris collections and the Hermitage. The holdings are easily accessible to the general public in the Study Room, unlike many such collections. [75] The department also has its own exhibition gallery in Room 90, where the displays and exhibitions change several times a year. [76]

Since its foundation in 1808, the prints and drawings collection has grown to international renown as one of the richest and most representative collections in the world. There are approximately 50,000 drawings and over two million prints. [76] The collection of drawings covers the period from the 14th century to the present, and includes many works of the highest quality by the leading artists of the European schools. The collection of prints covers the tradition of fine printmaking from its beginnings in the 15th century up to the present, with near complete holdings of most of the great names before the 19th century. Key benefactors to the department have been Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode, Richard Payne Knight, John Malcolm, Campbell Dodgson, César Mange de Hauke and Tomás Harris.

There are groups of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, (including his only surviving full-scale cartoon), Dürer (a collection of 138 drawings is one of the finest in existence), Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt, Claude and Watteau, and largely complete collections of the works of all the great printmakers including Dürer (99 engravings, 6 etchings and most of his 346 woodcuts), Rembrandt and Goya. More than 30,000 British drawings and watercolours include important examples of work by Hogarth, Sandby, Turner, Girtin, Constable, Cotman, Cox, Gillray, Rowlandson, Towne and Cruikshank, as well as all the great Victorians. The collection contains the unique set of watercolours by the pioneering colonist John White, the first British artist in America and first European to paint Native Americans. There are about a million British prints including more than 20,000 satires and outstanding collections of works by William Blake and Thomas Bewick. [ citation needed ] . The great eleven volume Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires Preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum compiled between 1870 and 1954 is the definitive reference work for the study of British Satirical prints. Over 500,000 objects from the department are now on the online collection database, many with high-quality images. [77] A 2011 donation of £1 million enabled the museum to acquire a complete set of Pablo Picasso's Vollard Suite. [78]

Rogier van der Weyden - Portrait of a Young Woman, c. 1440

Hieronymus Bosch - A comical barber scene, c. 1477-1516

Sandro Botticelli - Allegory of Abundance, 1480-1485

Michelangelo – Studies of a reclining male nude: Adam in the fresco 'The Creation of Man' on the vault of the Sistine Chapel, c. 1511

Raphael – Study of Heads, Mother and Child, c. 1509-11

Hans Holbein the Younger - Portrait of Anne Boleyn, 1536

Peter Paul Rubens - Drawing of Isabella Brant, his first wife, 1621

Claude Lorrain - Drawing of mules, including one full-length, 1630-1640

Thomas Gainsborough - Drawing of a woman with a rose, 1763-1765

JMW Turner - Watercolour of Newport Castle, 1796

Isaac Cruikshank - 'The happy effects of that grand system of shutting ports against the English!!', 1808

John Constable - London from Hampstead Heath in a Storm, (watercolour), 1831

James McNeill Whistler - View of the Battersea side of Chelsea Reach, London, (lithograph), 1878

Vincent Van Gogh - Man Digging in the Orchard (print), 1883

Peter van Dievoet - Studies for a statue of a figure in Roman dress, most likely for the statue of James II. [79]

Department of Britain, Europe and Prehistory Edit

The Department of Britain, Europe and Prehistory is responsible for collections that cover a vast expanse of time and geography. It includes some of the earliest objects made by humans in east Africa over 2 million years ago, as well as Prehistoric and neolithic objects from other parts of the world and the art and archaeology of Europe from the earliest times to the present day. Archeological excavation of prehistoric material took off and expanded considerably in the twentieth century and the department now has literally millions of objects from the Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods throughout the world, as well as from the Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age in Europe. Stone Age material from Africa has been donated by famous archaeologists such as Louis and Mary Leakey, and Gertrude Caton–Thompson. Paleolithic objects from the Sturge, Christy and Lartet collections include some of the earliest works of art from Europe. Many Bronze Age objects from across Europe were added during the nineteenth century, often from large collections built up by excavators and scholars such as Greenwell in Britain, Tobin and Cooke in Ireland, Lukis and de la Grancière in Brittany, Worsaae in Denmark, Siret at El Argar in Spain, and Klemm and Edelmann in Germany. A representative selection of Iron Age artefacts from Hallstatt were acquired as a result of the Evans/Lubbock excavations and from Giubiasco in Ticino through the Swiss National Museum.

In addition, the British Museum's collections covering the period AD 300 to 1100 are among the largest and most comprehensive in the world, extending from Spain to the Black Sea and from North Africa to Scandinavia a representative selection of these has recently been redisplayed in a newly refurbished gallery. Important collections include Latvian, Norwegian, Gotlandic and Merovingian material from Johann Karl Bähr, Alfred Heneage Cocks, Sir James Curle and Philippe Delamain respectively. However, the undoubted highlight from the early mediaeval period is the magnificent items from the Sutton Hoo royal grave, generously donated to the nation by the landowner Edith Pretty. The late mediaeval collection includes a large number of seal-dies from across Europe, the most famous of which include those from the Town of Boppard in Germany, Isabella of Hainault from her tomb in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, Inchaffray Abbey in Scotland and Robert Fitzwalter, one of the Barons who led the revolt against King John in England. There is also a large collection of medieval signet rings, prominent among them is the gold signet ring belonging to Jean III de Grailly who fought in the Hundred Years' War, as well as those of Mary, Queen of Scots and Richard I of England. Other groups of artifacts represented in the department include the national collection of (c.100) icon paintings, most of which originate from the Byzantine Empire and Russia, and over 40 mediaeval astrolabes from across Europe and the Middle East. The department also includes the national collection of horology with one of the most wide-ranging assemblage of clocks, watches and other timepieces in Europe, with masterpieces from every period in the development of time-keeping. Choice horological pieces came from the Morgan and Ilbert collections. The department is also responsible for the curation of Romano-British objects – the museum has by far the most extensive such collection in Britain and one of the most representative regional collections in Europe outside Italy. It is particularly famous for the large number of late Roman silver treasures, many of which were found in East Anglia, the most important of which is the Mildenhall Treasure. The museum purchased many Roman-British objects from the antiquarian Charles Roach Smith in 1856. These quickly formed the nucleus of the collection. The department also includes ethnographic material from across Europe including a collection of Bulgarian costumes and shadow puppets from Greece and Turkey. A particular highlight are the three Sámi drums from northern Sweden of which only about 70 are extant.

Objects from the Department of Britain, Europe and Prehistory are mostly found on the upper floor of the museum, with a suite of galleries numbered from 38 to 51. Most of the collection is stored in its archive facilities, where it is available for research and study.

Highlights of the collections include:

Stone Age (c. 3.4 million years BC – c. 2000 BC)

    material from across Africa, particularly Olduvai, Kalambo Falls, Olorgesailie and Cape Flats, (1.8 million BC onwards)
  • One of the 11 leaf-shaped points found near Volgu, Saône-et-Loire, France and estimated to be 16,000 years old [80]
  • Ice Age art from France including the Wolverine pendant of Les Eyzies, Montastruc decorated stone and Baton fragment, (c. 12–11,000 BC)
  • Ice Age art from Britain including the decorated jaw from Kendrick and Robin Hood Cave Horse, (11,500–10,000 BC)
  • Rare mesolithic artefacts from the site of Star Carr in Yorkshire, northern England, (8770–8460 BC)
  • Terracotta figurine from Vinča, Serbia, (5200–4900 BC) bead jewellery from Lannec-er-Ro'h, intact schist bracelet from Le Lizo, Carnac and triangular pendant from Mané-er-Hroëk, Morbihan, Brittany, western France, (5000–4300 BC)
  • Polished jade axe produced in the Italian Alps and found in Canterbury, Kent, southeast England, (4500–4000 BC)
  • Section of the Sweet Track, an ancient timber causeway from the Somerset Levels, England, (3807/6 BC)
  • Small collection of Neolithic finds including a necklace of flat bone beads from Skara Brae, Orkneys, northern Scotland, (3180–2500 BC)
  • Representative sample of artefacts (sherds, vessels, etc) from the megalithic site of Tarxien, Malta, (3150–2500 BC)
  • A number of carved stone balls from Scotland, Ireland and northern England, (3200–2500 BC)
  • The three Folkton Drums, made from chalk and found in Yorkshire, northern England, (2600–2100 BC)

Bronze Age (c. 3300 BC – c. 600 BC)

  • Jet beaded necklace from Melfort in Argyll, Scotland, (c. 3000 BC) from Blessington, Ireland, one of nine from Ireland, Wales and Cornwall, (2400–2000 BC)
  • Early Bronze Age hoards from Barnack, Driffield, Sewell and Snowshill in England, Arraiolos and Vendas Novas in Iberia and Auvernier, Biecz and Neunheilingen in central Europe (2280–1500 BC)
  • Contents of the Rillaton Barrow including a gold cup, and the related Ringlemere Cup, England, (1700–1500 BC)
  • Bronze Age hoards from Forró, Paks-Dunaföldvár, Szőny and Zsujta in Hungary, (1600–1000 BC)
  • Large ceremonial swords or dirks from Oxborough and Beaune, western Europe, (1450–1300 BC)
  • Eight bronze shields including those from Moel Hebog and Rhyd-y-gors, Wales and Athenry, County Galway, Ireland, (12th–10th centuries BC)
  • Gold hoards from Morvah and Towednack in Cornwall, Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire and Mooghaun in Ireland, (1150–750 BC)
  • Gold bowl with intricate repoussé decoration from Leer, Lower Saxony, northern Germany, (1100-800 BC) found near Ballymoney, Northern Ireland and part of the Dowris Hoard from County Offaly, Ireland, (1050–900 BC & 900–600 BC)
  • Late Bronze Age gold hoards from Abia de la Obispalía and Mérida, Spain and an intricate gold collar from Sintra, Portugal, (10th–8th centuries BC)
  • Part of a copper alloy lur from Årslev on the island of Funen, Denmark, one of only about 40 extant and the Dunmanway Horn from County Cork, Ireland (900–750 BC)
  • Gold bowl with embossed ornament and fluted wire handle from Angyalföld, Budapest, Hungary, (800-600 BC)

Iron Age (c. 600 BC – c. 1st century AD)

    , a pair of bronze drinking vessels from Moselle, eastern France, (5th century BC)
  • Morel collection of La Tène material from eastern France, including the Somme-Bionne chariot burial and the Prunay Vase, (450-300BC)
  • Important finds from the River Thames including the Battersea, Chertsey and Wandsworth shields and Waterloo Helmet, as well as the Witham Shield from Lincolnshire, eastern England, (350–50 BC)
  • Pair of gold collars called the Orense Torcs from northwest Spain, (300–150 BC) items from chariot burials in the Lady's Barrow near Market Weighton and Wetwang Slack, Yorkshire, (300 BC – 100 BC)
  • Other gold neck collars including the Ipswich Hoard and the Sedgeford Torc, England, (200–50 BC) of gold jewellery from southern England and the Great Torc from Snettisham in Norfolk, East Anglia, (100 BC)
  • Eight out of about thirty extant intact Celtic bronze mirrors with La Tène decoration including those from Aston, Chettle, Desborough, Holcombe and St Keverne in England, (100 BC – 100 AD) and Arcillera Treasures, two silver Celtic hoards from Spain, (100–20 BC) found by accident in a peat bog in Cheshire, England, (1st century AD) Hoard of horse and chariot fittings and the Meyrick Helmet, northern England, (1st century AD) silver hinged brooch from Székesfehérvár, Hungary, (1–100 AD) and two massive pairs of bronze armlets from Muthill and Strathdon, Scotland, (50–200 AD)

Romano-British (43 AD – 410 AD)

  • Tombstone of Roman procurator Gaius Julius Alpinus Classicianus from London, (1st century)
  • Ribbed glass bowl found in a grave at Radnage, Buckinghamshire, (1st century) , Guisborough and Witcham helmets once worn by Roman cavalry in Britain, (1st–2nd centuries)
  • Elaborate gold bracelets and ring found near Rhayader, central Wales, (1st–2nd centuries)
  • Bronze heads of the Roman Emperors Hadrian and Claudius, found in London and Suffolk, (1st–2nd centuries) , important historical documents found near Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland, (1st–2nd centuries)
  • Head of Mercury from Roman-Celtic Temple at Uley, Gloucestershire and limestone head from Towcester, Northamptonshire (2nd–4th centuries)
  • Wall-paintings and sculptures from the Roman Villa at Lullingstone, Kent, south east England, 1st–4th centuries) and Backworth treasures, remnants of two important hoards from northern England, (2nd–3rd centuries) of copper headdresses, fibulae and silver votive plaques, central England, (3rd century)
  • Square silver dish from Mileham in Norfolk, (4th century)
  • Gold jewellery deposited at the site of Newgrange, Ireland, (4th century) , late Roman jewellery from eastern England, (4th century)

Early Mediaeval (c. 4th century AD – c. 1000 AD)

    silver dish of the Emperor Licinius found at Niš, Serbia and hexagonal gold coin-set pendant of Constantine the Great, (Early 4th Century AD)
  • Two wooden ship figureheads dredged from the River Scheldt at Moerzeke and Appels, Belgium, (4th-6th centuries)
  • Part of the Asyut, Domagnano, Artres, Sutri, Bergamo and Belluno Treasures, (4th–7th centuries) , a unique figurative glass cage cup, and the Byzantine Archangel ivory panel, (4th–6th centuries)
  • Three large Ogham stones from the Rooves More Rath, County Cork, Ireland, (5th–7th centuries)
  • The Sutton Hoo treasure, Taplow burial and Crundale grave objects with some of the greatest finds from the early Middle Ages in Europe, England, (6th–7th centuries)
  • One of the Burghead Bulls, Pictish stone relief from northeast Scotland, (7th–8th centuries)
  • Three Viking hoards from Norway known as the Lilleberge Viking Burial, Tromsø Burial and Villa Farm barrow burial in Vestnes and the Ardvouray, Ballaquayle, Cuerdale, Goldsborough and Vale of York hoards from Britain, (7th–10th centuries)
  • Irish reliquaries such as the Kells Crozier, Bell Shrine of St. Cuileáin and St Conall Cael's Bell from Inishkeel, (7th–11th centuries)
  • Early Anglo Saxon Franks Casket, a unique ivory container from northern England, (8th century)
  • T-shaped Carolingian antler container with carved geometric interlace and zigzag decoration, found near Grüneck Castle, Ilanz, Switzerland, (8th–9th centuries)
  • A number of luxurious penannular brooches such as the Londesborough Brooch, Breadalbane Brooch and those from the Penrith Hoard, British Isles, (8th–9th centuries)
  • Carolingian crystal intaglios such as the Lothair Crystal, Metz engraved gem with crucifixion and Saint-Denis Crystal, central Europe, (9th century)
  • Anglo-Saxon Fuller and Strickland Brooches with their complex, niello-inlaid design, England, (9th century) , iron sword with long Anglo-Saxon Runic inscription, London, England, (10th century)

Mediaeval (c. 1000 AD – c. 1500 AD)

  • A number of mediaeval ivory panels including the Borradaile, Wernher and John Grandisson Triptychs, (10th–14th centuries)
  • Several elephant ivory horns including the Borradaile Horn, Clephane Horn and Savernake Horn, (11th–12th centuries)
  • The famous Lewis chessmen found in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, (12th century) from the treasury of Basel Munster, Switzerland and fragments of a rare Romanesque crucifix from South Cerney, England, (12th century)
  • Armenian stone-cross or Khachkar from the Noratus cemetery in Armenia, (1225 AD)
  • Items from the tomb of Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor at Palermo Cathedral, Sicily, including his mitre, silk pall and shoe, (late 12th century)
  • The unique Warwick CastleCitole, an early form of guitar, central England, (1280–1330)
  • Set of 10 wooden door panels engraved with Christian scenes from the Hanging Church in Old Cairo, Egypt, (1300) , mysteriously found at the Asante Court in the late 19th century, England, (1390–1400) bequeathed by Ferdinand de Rothschild as part of the Waddesdon Bequest, Paris, France, (14th century) , a gold and enamel brooch in the form of a swan, England, (14th century)
  • A silver astrolabe quadrant from Canterbury, southeastern England, (14th century) treasure of jewelry, dress accessories and silver plate from the island of Euboea, Greece, (14th–15th centuries)
  • Magnificent cups made from precious metal such as the Royal Gold Cup and the Lacock Cup, western Europe, (14th–15th centuries)
  • Complete church altar set from Medina de Pomar near Burgos, Spain (1455 AD)

Renaissance to Modern (c. 1500 AD – present)

  • Two luxurious silver brooches set with precious stones from Glen Lyon and Lochbuie, Scotland (early 16th century)
  • Intricately decorated parade shield made by Giorgio Ghisi from Mantua, Italy, (1554 AD) , 26 silver dishes found in Devon, south west England, (late 16th to early 17th centuries)
  • Early Renaissance Lyte Jewel, presented to Thomas Lyte of Lytes Cary, Somerset by King James I of England, (1610) silver from the Peter Wilding bequest, England, (18th century)
  • Pair of so-called Cleopatra Vases from the Chelsea porcelain factory, London, England, (1763)
  • Jaspar ware vase known as the Pegasus Vase made by Josiah Wedgwood, England, (1786)
  • Two of Charles Darwin's chronometers used on the voyage of HMS Beagle, (1795–1805)
  • The Hull Grundy Gift of jewellery, Europe and North America, (19th century)
  • Oak clock with mother-of-pearl engraving designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, (1919) designed by Marianne Brandt from the Bauhaus art school, Germany, (1924)
  • The Rosetta Vase, earthenware pottery vase designed by the contemporary British artist Grayson Perry, (2011)

Room 2 – Handaxe, Lower Palaeolithic, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, c. 1.2 million years BC

Room 3 – Swimming Reindeer carving, France, c. 13,000 years BC [81]

Room 2 – Ain Sakhri lovers, from the cave of Ain Sakhri, near Bethlehem, c. 9000 BC [82]

Room 51 – Mold gold cape, North Wales, Bronze Age, c. 1900–1600 BC

Room 50 - Wandsworth Shield, Iron Age shield boss in La Tène style, England, 2nd century BC

Room 50 - Gold torc found in Needwood Forest, central England, 75 BC

Room 49 - Bronze head of a Roman Emperor Claudius, from Rendham in Suffolk, eastern England, 1st century AD

Room 49 – Hinton St Mary Mosaic with face of Christ in the centre, from Dorset, southern England, 4th century AD

Room 49 - Corbridge Lanx, silver tray depicting a shrine to Apollo, northern England, 4th century AD

Room 41 - Silver objects from the Roman Coleraine Hoard, Northern Ireland, 4th-5th centuries AD

Room 41 – Sutton Hoo helmet, Anglo-Saxon, England, early 7th century AD

Room 40 - Ivory statue of Virgin and Child, who is crushing a dragon under her left foot from Paris, France, 1310-1330 AD

Room 40 - Chaucer Astrolabe, the oldest dated in Europe, 1326 AD

Room 40 – Royal Gold Cup or Saint Agnes Cup, made in Paris, France, 1370–80 AD

Room 2a – Holy Thorn Reliquary, made in Paris, c. 1390s AD

Room 38 – Mechanical Galleon clock, Augsburg, Germany, around 1585 AD

Room 38 - Carillon clock with automata by Isaac Habrecht, Switzerland, 1589 AD

Room 39 - Ornate clock made by Thomas Tompion, England, 1690 AD

Department of Asia Edit

The scope of the Department of Asia is extremely broad its collections of over 75,000 objects cover the material culture of the whole Asian continent (from East, South, Central and South-East Asia) and from the Neolithic up to the present day. Until recently, this department concentrated on collecting Oriental antiquities from urban or semi-urban societies across the Asian continent. Many of those objects were collected by colonial officers and explorers in former parts of the British Empire, especially the Indian subcontinent. Examples include the collections made by individuals such as James Wilkinson Breeks, Sir Alexander Cunningham, Sir Harold Deane, Sir Walter Elliot, James Prinsep, Charles Masson, Sir John Marshall and Charles Stuart. A large number of Chinese antiquities were purchased from the Anglo-Greek banker George Eumorfopoulos in the 1930s. The large collection of some 1800 Japanese prints and paintings owned by Arthur Morrison was acquired in the early twentieth century. In the second half of the twentieth century, the museum greatly benefited from the bequest of the philanthropist PT Brooke Sewell, which allowed the department to purchase many objects and fill in gaps in the collection. [83] [84] [85]

In 2004, the ethnographic collections from Asia were transferred to the department. These reflect the diverse environment of the largest continent in the world and range from India to China, the Middle East to Japan. Much of the ethnographic material comes from objects originally owned by tribal cultures and hunter-gatherers, many of whose way of life has disappeared in the last century. Particularly valuable collections are from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (much assembled by the British naval officer Maurice Portman), Sri Lanka (especially through the colonial administrator Hugh Nevill), Northern Thailand, south-west China, the Ainu of Hokaidu in Japan (chief among them the collection of the Scottish zoologist John Anderson), Siberia (with artefacts collected by the explorer Kate Marsden and Bassett Digby and is notable for its Sakha pieces, especially the ivory model of a summer festival at Yakutsk) and the islands of South-East Asia, especially Borneo. The latter benefited from the purchase in 1905 of the Sarawak collection put together by Dr Charles Hose, as well as from other colonial officers such as Edward A Jeffreys. In addition, a unique and valuable group of objects from Java, including shadow puppets and a gamelan musical set, was assembled by Sir Stamford Raffles.

The principal gallery devoted to Asian art in the museum is Gallery 33 with its comprehensive display of Chinese, Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asian objects. An adjacent gallery showcases the Amaravati sculptures and monuments. Other galleries on the upper floors are devoted to its Japanese, Korean, painting and calligraphy, and Chinese ceramics collections.

Highlights of the collections include: [86]

  • The most comprehensive collection of sculpture from the Indian subcontinent in the world, including the celebrated Buddhist limestone reliefs from Amaravati excavated by Sir Walter Elliot[87]
  • An outstanding collection of Chinese antiquities, paintings, and porcelain, lacquer, bronze, jade, and other applied arts
  • The Frau Olga-Julia Wegener Collection of 147 Chinese paintings from the Tang to the Qing dynasties.
  • The most comprehensive collection of Japanese pre-20th century art in the Western world, many of which originally belonged to the surgeon William Anderson and diplomat Ernest Mason Satow
  • A large collection of Chinese ritual bronzes, including a wine vessel in the shape of two rams supporting a jar, (1500–200 BC ) or disc with inscription from the Qianlong Emperor, (1500–1050 BC)
  • Group of Oracle bones that were used for divination from the Shang dynasty, China, (1200–1050 BC)
  • Intricately designed gold dagger handle from Eastern Zhou period, China, (6th–5th centuries BC) , an identical pair of bronze vessels from the Eastern Zhou period, China, (5th century BC)
  • Japanese antiquities from the Kofun period excavated by the pioneering archaeologist William Gowland, (3rd–6th centuries AD)
  • Three ornate bronze Dōtaku or bells from the Yayoi period, Japan, (200 BC – 200 AD)
  • Gilded and inscribed Han dynasty wine-cup made from lacquer and found in Pyongyang, Korea (4 AD) architectural wood carvings, furniture and dress accessories from Loulan, Xinjiang, (4th century AD)
  • The famous Admonitions Scroll by Chinese artist Gu Kaizhi, (344–406 AD)
  • The colossal Amitābha Buddha from Hancui, China, (585 AD)
  • A set of ceramic Tang dynasty tomb figures of Liu Tingxun, (c. 728 AD)
  • Silk Princess painting from Dandan-oilik Buddhist sanctuary in Khotan, Xinjiang, China, (7th–8th century AD) , one from a set of eight surviving statues, China, (907–1125 AD)
  • Hoard of Tang dynasty silverware from Beihuangshan, Shaanxi province, China, (9th–10th centuries AD)
  • Seventeen examples of extremely rare Ru ware, the largest collection in the West, (1100 AD)
  • A fine assemblage of Buddhist scroll paintings from Dunhuang, western China, collected by the British-Hungarian explorer Aurel Stein, (5th–11th centuries AD) collection of Chinese ceramics, (10th–18th centuries AD)
  • Ivory stand in the form of a seated lion, Chos-'khor-yan-rtse monastery in Tibet, (13th century AD)
  • Copy of a hanging scroll painting of Minamoto no Yoritomo, first Shogun of Japan, (14th century AD)
  • Handscroll silk painting called 'Fascination of Nature' by Xie Chufang depicting insects and plants, China, (1321 AD)
  • Ornate Sino-Tibetan figure of Buddha Sakyamuni made of gilded bronze, China, (1403–1424 AD)
  • Large Cloisonné jar with dragon made for the Ming Dynasty Imperial Court, paired with another in the Rietberg Museum, Zürich, Beijing, China, (1426–35 AD)
  • Pair of ceramic Kakiemon elephants from Japan, (17th century AD) from the Joseon Dynasty collected by the potter Bernard Leach, Korea, (18th century AD)
  • Japanese prints including The Great Wave off Kanagawa, (1829–32 AD)
  • Excavated objects from the Indus Valley sites of Mohenjo-daro, and Harappa, Ancient India (now in Pakistan), (2500–2000 BC)
  • Hoard of Copper Hoard Culture celts, plaques and disc from Gungeria, Madhya Pradesh, India, (2000–1000 BC)
  • Assembly of prehistoric artifacts from the Nilgiri Hills in southern India, (10th century BC – 2nd century AD)
  • Sandstone fragment of a Pillar of Ashoka with Brahmi inscription from Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, India, (238 BC)
  • The Kulu Vase found near a monastery in Himachal Pradesh, one of the earliest examples of figurative art from the sub-continent, northern India, (1st century BC) from Taxila, with important Kharoshthi inscription, Ancient India (now in Pakistan), (1st century BC – 1st century AD)
  • Indo-Scythian sandstone Mathura Lion Capital and Bracket figure from one of the gateways to the Great Stupa at Sanchi, central India, (1st century AD) and Wardak Vase, reliquaries from ancient stupas in Afghanistan, (1st–2nd centuries AD)
  • Hoard of gold jewellery with precious stones found under the Enlightenment Throne at the Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya, eastern India, (2nd century AD)
  • Relic deposits from stupas at Ahin Posh, Ali Masjid, Gudivada, Manikyala, Sonala Pind, Sanchi and Taxila, (1st–3rd centuries AD)
  • Seated Hārītī and Buddha statues and other Gandhara sculptures from Kafir Kot, Jamal Garhi, Takht-i-Bahi and Yusufzai, Pakistan, (1st–3rd centuries AD) with hunting scenes from the Swat District, Pakistan, (460–479 AD)
  • Three sandstone carved sculptures of the Buddha in Gupta style from Sarnath, eastern India, (5th–6th centuries AD)
  • The Buddhapad Hoard of bronze images from southern India, (6th–8th centuries AD)
  • Small bronze figure of Buddha Shakyamuni, Bihar, eastern India, (7th century AD)
  • Stone statue of Buddha from the Sultanganj hoard, Bihar, eastern India, (7th–8th centuries AD)
  • Earliest known figure of the dancing four-armed god Shiva Nataraja, Pallava dynasty, southern India (800 AD) from Sri Lanka and the Thanjavur Shiva from Tamil Nadu, southern India, (8th century & 10th century AD)
  • Standing Pala statue of Buddha from Kurkihar, Bihar, India, (9th century AD)
  • Several wooden architectural panels from the Kashmir Smast caves, northern Pakistan, (9th–10th centuries AD)
  • Hoard of Buddhist terracotta sealings from the Pala period found at the Nālandā Monastery, Bihar, eastern India, (10th century AD) of the goddess Ambika found at Dhar in central India, (1034 AD)
  • Foundation inscription of the Ananta Vasudeva Temple in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, eastern India, (1278 AD) dragon cup that once belonged to Sultan Ulugh Beg from Samarkand, Uzbekistan, (1420–1449 AD)
  • Foundation inscription with Arabic inscription in Naskh script in the name of Sultan Yusufshah from Gauda, Bengal, eastern India, (1477 AD)
  • Large standing gilded copper figure of the BodhisattvaAvalokiteśvara, Nepal, (15th–16th centuries AD)
  • Earthenware tazza from the Phùng Nguyên culture, northern Vietnam, (2000–1500 BC)
  • Pottery vessels and sherds from the ancient site of Ban Chiang, Thailand, (10th–1st centuries BC)
  • Bronze bell from Klang and iron socketed axe (tulang mawas) from Perak, western Malaysia, (200 BC–200 AD)
  • Group of six Buddhist clay votive plaques found in a cave in Patania, Penang, Malaysia, (6th–11th centuries AD)
  • The famous Sambas Treasure of buddhist gold and silver figures from west Borneo, Indonesia, (8th–9th centuries AD)
  • Three stone Buddha heads from the temple at Borobodur in Java, Indonesia, (9th century AD)
  • Granite Kinnari figure in the shape of a bird from Candi Prambanan in Java, Indonesia, (9th century AD)
  • Sandstone Champa figure of a rampant lion, Vietnam, (11th century AD)
  • Gilded bronze figure of Śiva holding a rosary, Cambodia, (11th century AD)
  • Stone figure representing the upper part of an eleven-headed Avalokiteśvara, Cambodia, (12th century AD)
  • Bronze figure of a seated Buddha from Bagan, Burma, (12th–13th centuries AD)
  • Hoard of Southern Song dynasty ceramic vessels excavated at Pinagbayanan, Taysan Municipality, Philippines, (12th–13th centuries AD)
  • Statue of the Goddess Mamaki from Candi Jago, eastern Java, Indonesia, (13th–14th centuries AD)
  • Glazed terracotta tiles from the Shwegugyi Temple erected by king Dhammazedi in Bago, Myanmar, (1476 AD)
  • Inscribed bronze figure of a Buddha from Fang District, part of a large SE Asian collection amassed by the Norwegian explorer Carl Bock, Thailand, (1540 AD)
  • Large impression of the Buddha's foot made of gilded stone (known as Shwesettaw Footprints) donated by Captain Frederick Marryat, from Ponoodang near Yangon, Myanmar, (18th–19th centuries AD)

Room 33 - Cubic weights made of chert from Mohenjo-daro, Pakistan, 2600-1900 BC

Room 33 - One of the hu from Huixian, China, 5th century BC

Room 33 - A hamsa sacred goose vessel made of crystal from Stupa 32, Taxila, Pakistan, 1st century AD

Room 33 - Stone sculpture of the death of Buddha, Gandhara, Pakistan, 1st-3rd centuries AD

Room 91a - Section of the Admonitions Scroll by Chinese artist Gu Kaizhi, China, c. 380 AD

Room 33 - Gilded bronze statue of the Buddha, Dhaneswar Khera, India, 5th century AD

The Amitābha Buddha from Hancui on display in the museum's stairwell, China, 6th century AD

Room 33 - The luohan from Yixian made of glazed stoneware, China, 907-1125 AD

Sculpture of Goddess Ambika found at Dhar, India, 1034 AD

Sculpture of the two Jain tirthankaras Rishabhanatha and Mahavira, Orissa, India, 11th-12th century AD

Room 33 - Western Zhou bronze ritual vessel known as the "Kang Hou Gui", China, 11th century BC

Room 33 - A crowned figure of the Bodhisattva Khasarpana Avalokiteśvara, India, 12th century AD

Room 33 - Covered hanging jar with underglaze decoration, Si Satchanalai (Sawankalok), north-central Thailand, 14th-16th centuries AD

Room 33 - Hu-shaped altar flower vessel, Ming dynasty, China, 15th -16th centuries AD

Room 33 - An assistant to the Judge of Hell, figure from a judgement group, Ming dynasty, China, 16th century AD

Room 33 - Statue of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, gilded bronze. Nepal, 16th century AD

Portrait of Ibrâhîm 'Âdil Shâh II (1580–1626), Mughal Empire of India, 1615 AD

Room 90 - Courtesans of the Tamaya House, attributed to Utagawa Toyoharu, screen painting Japan, Edo period, late 1770s or early 1780s AD

Room 33 - Large statue of Buddha made of lacquer from Burma, 18th-19th century AD

Room 33 - Figure of seated Lama of painted and varnished papier-mâché, Ladakh, Tibet, 19th century AD

Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas Edit

The British Museum houses one of the world's most comprehensive collections of Ethnographic material from Africa, Oceania and the Americas, representing the cultures of indigenous peoples throughout the world. Over 350,000 objects [88] spanning thousands of years tells the history of mankind from three major continents and many rich and diverse cultures the collecting of modern artefacts is ongoing. Many individuals have added to the department's collection over the years but those assembled by Henry Christy, Harry Beasley and William Oldman are outstanding. Objects from this department are mostly on display in several galleries on the ground and lower floors. Gallery 24 displays ethnographic from every continent while adjacent galleries focus on North America and Mexico. A long suite of rooms (Gallery 25) on the lower floor display African art. There are plans in place to develop permanent galleries for showcasing art from Oceania and South America.

The Sainsbury African Galleries display 600 objects from the greatest permanent collection of African arts and culture in the world. The three permanent galleries provide a substantial exhibition space for the museum's African collection comprising over 200,000 objects. A curatorial scope that encompasses both archaeological and contemporary material, including both unique masterpieces of artistry and objects of everyday life. A great addition was material amassed by Sir Henry Wellcome, which was donated by the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum in 1954. Highlights of the African collection include objects found at megalithic circles in The Gambia, a dozen exquisite Afro-Portuguese ivories, a series of soapstone figures from the Kissi people in Sierra Leone and Liberia, hoard of bronze Kru currency rings from the Sinoe River in Liberia, Asante goldwork and regalia from Ghana including the Bowdich collection, the rare Akan Drum from the same region in west Africa, pair of door panels and lintel from the palace at Ikere-Ekiti in Yorubaland, the Benin and Igbo-Ukwu bronze sculptures, the beautiful Bronze Head of Queen Idia, a magnificent brass head of a Yoruba ruler and quartz throne from Ife, a similar terracotta head from Iwinrin Grove near Ife, the Apapa Hoard from Lagos and other mediaeval bronze hoards from Allabia and the Forçados River in southern Nigeria, an Ikom monolith from Cross River State, several ancestral screens from the Kalabari tribe in the Niger Delta, the Torday collection of central African sculpture, textiles and weaponry from the Kuba Kingdom including three royal figures, the unique Luzira Head from Uganda, processional crosses and other ecclesiastical and royal material from Gondar and Magdala, Ethiopia following the British Expedition to Abyssinia, excavated objects from Great Zimbabwe (that includes a unique soapstone, anthropomorphic figure) and satellite towns such as Mutare including a large hoard of Iron Age soapstone figures, a rare divining bowl from the Venda peoples and cave paintings and petroglyphs from South Africa.

The British Museum's Oceanic collections originate from the vast area of the Pacific Ocean, stretching from Papua New Guinea to Easter Island, from New Zealand to Hawaii. The three main anthropological groups represented in the collection are Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia – Aboriginal art from Australia is considered separately in its own right. Metal working was not indigenous to Oceania before Europeans arrived, so many of the artefacts from the collection are made from stone, shell, bone and bamboo. Prehistoric objects from the region include a bird-shaped pestle and a group of stone mortars from Papua New Guinea. The British Museum is fortunate in having some of the earliest Oceanic and Pacific collections, many of which were put together by members of Cook's and Vancouver's expeditions or by colonial administrators and explorers such as Sir George Grey, Sir Frederick Broome, Joseph Bradshaw, Robert Christison, Gregory Mathews, Frederick Meinertzhagen, Thomas Mitchell and Arthur Gordon, before Western culture significantly impacted on indigenous cultures. The department has also benefited greatly from the legacy of pioneering anthropologists such as AC Haddon, Bronisław Malinowski and Katherine Routledge. A poignant artefact is the wooden Aboriginal shield probably dating from the late eighteenth century. [89] There is some debate as to whether this shield was found at Botany Bay or, given the nature of the wood being red mangrove which grows abundantly only 500km north of Botany Bay, possibly obtained through trade networks or at an entirely different location. [90] [91] The Wilson cabinet of curiosities from Palau is an example of pre-contact ware. Another outstanding exemplar is the mourner's dress from Tahiti given to Cook on his second voyage, one of only ten in existence. In the collection is a large war canoe from the island of Vella Lavella in the Solomon Islands, one of the last ever to be built in the archipelago. [92] In addition, the Māori collection is the finest outside New Zealand with many intricately carved wooden and jade objects and the Aboriginal art collection is distinguished by its wide range of bark paintings, including two very early bark etchings collected by John Hunter Kerr. A particularly important group of objects was purchased from the London Missionary Society in 1911, that includes the unique statue of A'a from Rurutu Island, the rare idol from the isle of Mangareva and the Cook Islands deity figure. Other highlights include the huge Hawaiian statue of Kū-ka-ili-moku or god of war (one of three extant in the world) and the famous Easter Island statues Hoa Hakananai'a and Moai Hava.

The Americas collection mainly consists of 19th and 20th century items although the Paracas, Moche, Inca, Maya, Aztec, Taino and other early cultures are well represented. The Kayung totem pole, which was made in the late nineteenth century on Haida Gwaii, dominates the Great Court and provides a fitting introduction to this very wide-ranging collection that stretches from the very north of the North American continent where the Inuit population has lived for centuries, to the tip of South America where indigenous tribes have long thrived in Patagonia. Highlights of the collection include Aboriginal Canadian and Native American objects from North America collected by the 5th Earl of Lonsdale, the Marquis of Lorne, the explorer David Haig-Thomas and Bryan Mullanphy, Mayor of St. Louis, the Squier and Davis collection of prehistoric mound relics from North America, two carved stone bowls in the form of a seated human figure made by ancient North West Coast peoples from British Columbia, the headdress of Chief Yellow Calf from the Arapaho tribe in Wyoming, a lidded rivercane basket from South Carolina and the earliest historic example of Cherokee basketery, a selection of pottery vessels found in prehistoric dwellings at Mesa Verde and Casas Grandes, one of the enigmatic crystal skulls of unknown origin, a collection of nine turquoise Aztec mosaics from Mexico (the largest in Europe), important artefacts from Teotihuacan and Isla de Sacrificios, several rare pre-Columbian manuscripts including the Codex Zouche-Nuttall and Codex Waecker-Gotter and post-colonial ones such as the Codex Aubin and Codex Kingsborough, a spectacular series of Mayan lintels from Yaxchilan excavated by the British Mayanist Alfred Maudslay, a very high quality Mayan collection that includes sculptures from Copan, Tikal, Tulum, Pusilha, Naranjo and Nebaj (including the celebrated Fenton Vase), an ornate calcite vase with jaguar handles from the Ulua Valley in Honduras, the Lord Moyne collection from the Bay Islands, Honduras and Boyle collection from Nicarugua, over 20 stone metates with zoomorphic and anthropomorphic ornamentation from Costa Rica, a group of Zemi Figures from Vere, Jamaica, wooden duhos from the Dominican Republic and The Bahamas, a collection of Pre-Columbian human mummies from sites across South America including Ancon, Acari, Arica and Leyva, a number of prestigious pre-Columbian gold and votive objects from Colombia, three axe-shaped gold diadems found near Camaná from the Siguas culture in Peru, ethnographic objects from across the Amazon region including the Schomburgk and Maybury Lewis collections and part of the von Martius and von Spix collection, two rare Tiwanaku pottery vessels from Lake Titicaca and important items from Tierra del Fuego donated by Commander Phillip Parker King.

Room 26 - Stone pipe representing an otter from Mound City, Ohio, USA, 200 BC - 400 AD

Hôtel Tassel

Hôtel Tassel, completed in 1893, is the elegant work of Belgian Art Nouveau architect and artist Victor Horta. It is his first mature Art Nouveau structure, incorporating hints of the French Gothic Revival influence and setting the pace for the style.

The two-story structure is located in the center of Brussels. It was designed and built for geometry professor Émile Tassel on a narrow and deep site. A finely detailed urban house, Hôtel Tassel has an articulated facade defined around centered, stacked, bay windows with a top balcony. The architect used regularly curved forms, strongly believing in their practicality rather than seeing them as merely ornamental. He also experimented with glass and steel, both in the free-flowing interiors and in the house’s purpose-designed furniture. The facade is almost Neoclassical in appearance, but the balcony section’s oblique form suggests its decorative influences. Expressive, nature-inspired designs are found in the warm-colored patterns on the walls and floors and in the exuberant staircase metalwork.

Horta fitted out the house in sumptuous style, although the revolutionary aspect of the structure lies elsewhere: in the free use of the interior space and the different-level access to the various rooms, breaking the traditional separated-room approach to residential planning. (Ellie Stathaki)

The History of Wentworth Woodhouse

On the outskirts of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, lies the little village of Wentworth. With a population of less than 1,500, you may be forgiven for thinking that this is merely a quiet farming or retirement village. Wentworth, however, is home to one of the most magnificent – and mysterious – buildings in all of Yorkshire.

This is Wentworth Woodhouse. Locally known as ‘the House’ or ‘Wentworth House’, this is the largest private home in the UK. The façade – which, in architecture, is the most predominant front facing onto an open space – is the longest of any country home in Europe. At 600ft long, it is twice the length of a standard football pitch, and twice the length of Buckingham Palace. If you were to walk every inch of the mansion, it would take nearly two hours, as there are over five miles of corridors, and over three hundred rooms. No one can really agree on a true number of rooms, since some argue whether cupboards should count and the like. Nevertheless, covering a vast 250,000ft of floorspace, this is truly one of the jewels in South Yorkshire’s crown.

Why here? Why build such a big house in such a small village? Well, the choice of location is owed to the heritage of the family that owned the land. In the 1200s, where the house stands today, a large portion of forest was cut down to make way for a family estate. This is where the name ‘Woodhouse’ comes from, since Woodhouse was a term used for a settlement built on cleared forest land. The family that owned this took their name from this house to make the family of Woodhouse. In the 1300s, the family of Wentworth – who took their name from the village they were situated in – married their heir, Robert, to the heiress Emma of the Woodhouses. This lineage continued for three hundred years, with the building remaining as quaint as the village it lived in. It was not until the 17th century that the family living within it began to expand the estate to extravagant proportions. It was also the time that the family entered the national stage of politics, and really began to put their name in the history books.

Portrait from 1880 of the East Front of the Wentworth Woodhouse, by F.O. Morris.

Enter Thomas Wentworth, the first Earl of Strafford. Owner of Wentworth House at the time, and 11th great-grandson of Robert and Emma, Thomas is an extraordinary figure who influenced historical events more than people may realise. Beginning his political career as the representative of Yorkshire in Parliament in 1614, Thomas did not debate for the first four years – a fence-sitter, you might say. Despite this, he originally took concern with how the crown used their royal prerogative to bypass Parliament, which became a major factor in starting the English Civil War. However, once Charles I accepted the Petition of Right in 1628, which was an effort to curb royal power, Thomas felt the king had learnt his lesson. He pledged his full support to the crown a move that, ultimately, cost him his life. For his loyalty, Charles promoted him to Lord President of the Council of the North in 1633, Lord Deputy of Ireland, and in 1640, the Earl of Strafford. Unfortunately, with tensions rising between Parliament and the monarchy, Charles reluctantly sacrificed his supporter to try and appease his opponents. On the 12th of May, 1641, Thomas Wentworth was executed. With the English Civil War beginning just over a year later, his death was in vain.

17th century portrait of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, by Sir Anthony Van Dyck

It was commonplace for those of high status to either reflect or reinforce an impression of that status and wealth through their buildings. That, and they also liked to live in the lap of luxury, either for themselves or to accommodate influential friends. With a rise like Thomas Wentworth’s, it comes as no surprise that he began expanding the Woodhouse so it would fit his ambition. It is a shame that no surviving pictures or diagrams of the original building survive. We do, however, know it must have been rather large, considering it housed sixty-four people, including staff. Thankfully, there are actually a few surviving pieces of architecture that you can see today, such as the Well Gate in the courtyard. This is one of the oldest parts of the historic house.

The beautiful, brick-built behemoth that we know today actually originates from 1724. Commissioned by Thomas Watson-Wentworth, the first Marquess of Rockingham and great-nephew of the Earl of Strafford, he ordered his new home to replace the house that Strafford had built. It took nearly twenty-five years to complete, and cost an estimated £82,500. In today’s currency, that is approximately £9,500,000. The Watson-Wentworth family, who made their money from land and politics, were one of incredible wealth and influence.

Colloquially (and rather comically) known as the ‘Back Front’, it was the west side of the house that was built first. The West Front was initially designed by multiple architects. Ralph Tunnicliffe, who worked on Wortley Hall, was called in to tackle the daunting task of devising how the Wentworth family home should look. Despite how little is known about Strafford’s house, it is known it was Jacobean in style. Jacobean style was an early 17th century form of architecture, named after James I, for it was under his reign when the style came to fruition. Certain examples can be found across the country, such as Crewe Hall. To keep updated with the fashion, and indeed distance himself from the infamous Stuart legacy, they rebuilt the new house in Baroque style. Baroque was a European style of architecture that flourished from the late 1600s to the early 1700s, and was adopted for St. Paul’s Cathedral, as well as the west facing part of the Woodhouse. Here you can feel especially intimate with the family, as the West Front is where the family made their living quarters. It remained the living space of the residing families for over 350 years, until their connection with the historic house ended.

Picture of the West Front of the Wentworth Woodhouse from 31st December 1909. Copyright: Andrew Rabbott

Yet, no-one was truly happy with the West Front. The party that the Marquess belonged to, the Whigs, saw Baroque as distasteful. Thomas himself felt it was not grandiose enough for his reputation. Thus, he ordered that construction should begin on an expansion of his family abode. Under the guidance of the architect Henry Flitcroft, work began on constructing the East Front, the most iconic side – and now visitors’ entrance – of the Woodhouse. Flitcroft became a renowned craftsman, with his work ranging from the Virginia Water Lake, to the Wimpole Hall, to even helping design London streets. He modelled the new building in Palladian style. This style was named after the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio. It gained huge popularity as a design in Britain after the English Civil War. The Marquess’ desire to be fashionable may have been one reason why this style of architecture was chosen. Influenced by Greece and Rome, trademarks of Palladian style are still evident in the Woodhouse, such as the large pillars in the entrance of the house. To the Marquess’ instructions, Flitcroft went against all odds and designed the West Front to be imposing on a scale hitherto unseen grand a real symbol of power and wealth.

The interior rooms also tell the tale of the family’s status. When you walk up the stairs and through the entrance of the Woodhouse, you are greeted with the dazzling ‘Pillared Room’. In continuation of the Greek and Roman influenced Palladian style, pillars and marble statues decorate the room to make a jaw-dropping sight. As with the gorgeous façade outside, this was done with the intention of impressing high-profile guests. Moving towards the end of this room, you will find yourself at the main staircase. Erected in 1770, it was designed by famous architect John Carr, who was responsible for marvels such as Harewood House and Buxton Crescent. Ascending the curved staircase will bring you above the Pillared Room, and into the most famous – and beautiful – room in the entire house: the Marble Saloon.

Picture of the Pillared Room, or Pillared Hall as it is also known, from 31st December 1909. Copyright: Charles Latham

The Marble Saloon gets its name from the material that lines its floor. Here’s a little secret: the pillars may look marble, but they are actually made of scagliola, a polished mixture of plaster, glue and dye. It’s truly a marvellous room, being forty feet high, and lavishly decorated with statues. In fact, some say it is the finest Georgian rooms in all of England. Of course, it had to be: this was the epicentre of activities at Wentworth Woodhouse. It was used for entertaining guests, such as Anna Pavlova – the Russian ballerina – dancing for the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1912. Extravagant parties for birthdays, weddings, and Christmas took place here – equally, however, so did military training and physical exercise for college girls.

The Marble Saloon, 2019. Copyright: Steven Jones

During the Second World War, Wentworth Woodhouse was used as a base for the Intelligence Corps. Established in 1914, this branch of the military specialised in acquiring and analysing vital information. They set up training camps in picturesque and noble settings, including one at the Woodhouse. The family at the time moved away, whilst the military stationed their troops in the stable blocks, and their officers in the living quarters of the West Front. They even used motorcycle training in the Wentworth Park, and conducted military exercises in the Marble Saloon. One of the soldiers to attend the Woodhouse was the military engineer Justin Brooke, who served against the Soviet Union with the Finnish during the Winter War of 1939.

The Saloon also played host to physical education for college girls. From 1949 until 1979, Lady Mabel, who was sister to the Earl who owned the Woodhouse at the time, used most of the house as a training facility for female P.E teachers. Then, from 1979 until 1988, the house merged with Sheffield City Polytechnic, which is now Sheffield Hallam University. Here, they taught physical education as well as Geography. More importantly than that, however, Wentworth Woodhouse saw a renewed lease of life, as it became a hub for students. With the building of accommodation, laboratories, and even a student bar, the house was quite an enviable student experience, really. Interestingly, it was the Stable Block where most of these were built – although I am fairly certain they didn’t get the horses drunk!

Speaking of horses, one of the most interesting rooms in the house is the Whistlejacket Room. Just south of the Marble Saloon, it is one of the finest places in the entire mansion. Originally, it was intended to be a stately dining room. Remember, the utmost intention of this house, like many others, was generally to impress guests and give the impression of great power. You enter the room through one of the doors in the corner of the room, where you find yourself surrounded by beautifully decorated gold and white walls. Although there is a very homely and traditional fireplace there, the hanging picture of the horse Whistlejacket is the real scene-stealer here.

When Thomas Watson-Wentworth died in 1750, the estates passed to his son, Charles, the second Marquess of Rockingham. As it turns out, this small, quiet village holds a hidden history of a powerful, wealthy, and rather popular family. Charles is mostly remembered for his two brief terms as Prime Minister. Not only was he the first one from Yorkshire, but also he advocated for the autonomy of the American colonies, made peace with America after their independence, and passed the 1782 Relief of the Poor Act. Make no mistake: despite his very handsome income of £20,000 (which is over £3.1 million in today’s currency) every year from his estates, he was renowned as being a champion for the poor and for peace. Yet, despite this wealth, Charles was also a renowned gambler.

1786 portrait of Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham

Whistlejacket was one of Charles’ finest horses. He also owned the first ever horse to win the St Leger Races, which were nearly called the Rockingham Stakes in his honour, before being called St Leger. In just one year, 1759, Whistlejacket won 2,000 guineas for the Marquess, which equates to approximately £204,000 in today’s currency. Lucky sod! To honour his money-printing mare, the Marquess commissioned the artist George Stubbs to paint a picture of Whistlejacket. There is actually quite a mystery surrounding the painting. Some argue that the blank background implies it is an unfinished piece of art, whereas others point out that the shadows of the horse suggest that this unique portrait was designed to only show the horse, so to truly honour his legacy. Nevertheless, the fact the horse got an entire room, and indeed portrait, dedicated to him, speaks volumes about the character of the Marquess.

The 1762 Whistlejacket Portrait, by George Stubbs

When Charles died in 1782, the estate was passed down to his nephew William, the 4th Earl Fitzwilliam, making him one of the richest people in Britain. It was the Fitzwilliam family that owned the Woodhouse from then until they sold it more than two centuries later in 1989. The Fitzwilliams were renowned for their genuine respect for their workers and the local villagers, such as giving housing to those who worked for them, as well as giving Christmas presents to the local children. From the mid-19th century, the Fitzwilliams gained most of their money from coal. Unfortunately, it was the nationalisation of the coal mines in 1947 that lead to their decline in wealth and power. Even worse still, it was state-enforced coal mining that almost lead to the destruction of the house.

Following the Second World War, the UK was in desperate need of coal, which was one of the main causes for the nationalisation of the industry. The Fitzwilliams, who owned many local collieries, were forced to give up a great deal of their wealth in response to this decision. Even more unfortunate, however, was the fact that the Woodhouse was situated right atop the Barnsley Seam. In 1946, debates raged in Parliament concerning whether this coal should be mined, given it was underneath the historic house and would seriously damage it. The media, the Conservative Party, the locals, and even the miners themselves were all vehemently opposed to the open-cast mining. For one, they argued, the damage it would do to one of Britain’s finest homes was incalculable at the time. For two, Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Shinwell, the Minister of Fuel and Power from 1945 until 1947, claimed the coal was of high quality and was in abundance. Yet, there was not a scientific study to support that claim quite the opposite, in fact! Despite this, the Woodhouse was to endure forty years of open-cast mining. It was almost spiteful on Shinwell’s behalf, and some believe he carried out this work to attack the coal-owning aristocracy. The digging was done right up to the door of the West Front. This is no exaggeration: if the Earl or Lady were to look out of their living quarters windows, they would be greeted with the top of a mound of dirt!

Damaged facade, Mechelen, 1914 - History

Many people are puzzled why Highbury Corner has this name, when it is in fact a huge traffic circus with no sign of a corner. We can see from the earlier 1914 map that there was a Corner.

1914 Ordnance Survey map of Highbury Corner

The map shows Highbury and Islington Station before it was bombed

The reason for the change is easy to find. Railway junctions were prime targets during the Second World War and, as the lines were easy to see from the air, they were all attacked. The Bombing map shows widespread damage in nearby streets. Goldsmith Place , one of the cul-de-sacs off Compton Road , and the school itself suffered blast damage. The end of St Paul 's Road was hit, but the greatest damage happened on the night of 27/28 June, 1944. A V2 rocket fell outside the Post Office, destroying the end of Compton Terrace and the Railway Station. 24 people were killed 116 seriously wounded. The station, was destroyed, leaving only a solitary pilaster which is still to be found in the wall out side the new booking Hall. The end houses in Compton Terrace were destroyed and nearby ones so badly damaged as to be beyond repair.

V2 rockets were almost random weapons, which could not be aimed at particular targets so, despite earlier attempts to destroy the station and disrupt traffic, it was probably just bad luck that this V2 struck just where it did.

The remaining end of Compton Terrace has been preserved and a plague erected on the end wall.

The plaque commemorating the flying bomb which
destroyed Highbury and Islington Station

The Bomb Damage Map of Highbury Corner

My earlier black and white photocopy of
the Bombing Map, made about 1970.

1970 was long before either colour photocopies or the Internet were available. It shows the major bomb damage, but the different colours did not register on early photocopiers and much damage was not recorded.

The coloured version below shows the degree of damage to each building, from Total Destruction to Blast damage, minor in nature. The colours also show the centre of impact and the radiating circles of lesser damage around it.

Highbury Station and the end houses opposite were damaged beyond repair (Black, Purple and Dark Red) and the next ones were almost beyond any repair. Some buildings immediately to the north of Canonbury School were also beyond repair but the school itself survived.

There is no comparison between the information given by the Black and White photocopies I had to use earlier and the coloured ones.

The Bombing Map of Highbury Corner

Coloured map detail by kind permission of London Metropolitan Archive.

Colour Key References
Black -Total destruction
Purple - Damaged beyond repair
Dark Red - Doubtful if repairable
Light Red - Seriously damaged, but repairable at cost
Orange - General blast damage, not structural
Yellow - Blast damage, minor in nature
O V1 flying bomb large circle
o V2 long range rocket. small circle

There will be slight variations in the colours because the original maps
are old and the colour balance on computer monitors will vary

This map and other smaller sections reproduced elsewhere,
are taken with permission, from

The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945.

Copies of any particular area can be obtained, for private or school use, from London Metropolitan Archives who own the copyright.

Highbury and Islington Station in 2008.

The original station which was shown earlier was completely destroyed and the modern shec built in its place. All that remains of the original façade is the narrow pillar on the left.

The lower storey and the dressings are in limestone, but the rest is good quality brickwork, so the original engraving is not entirely in limestone and may not have been quite so impressive as Victoria Station. Whatever it was, it was a fine façade and a sad loss to the area.

(Move your mouse over the picture to
highlight the sole remaining pillar.)

Post War Changes

During the Second World War the school building suffered only minor blast damage, but its surroundings suffered badly. After 1945 it was decided to demolish the bombed houses at the end of Compton Terrace and to convert Highbury Corner into a traffic circus. The trams still ran at that period, so the tracks were re-laid in the new pattern.

The immediate area around Canonbury School had suffered. The houses were old. The fashion for tower blocks led to the demolition of the small cul-de-sacs between the school and St Paul 's Road and the building of Dixon Clark Court .

Dixon Court , built on the earlier small terraced houses

The Enlarged School Perimeter

A Child's Drawing Showing the Expansion of Canonbury School Over the Years

In the process, the school grounds were extended. The terrace of houses in Canonbury Road, from the School-keeper's Cottage to St. Paul's Road, was demolished. The sole remaining houses are the School keeper's cottage and the house next door.

The latter has been restored and freshly painted, as a reminder of what had been there before. At one end of the house there are two chimney pots, from chimneys on the ground and first floors. At the other end of the house are four chimney pots and a protruding chimney breast, plastered over. When the builders demolished the terraced next door housethey had to leave the extra chimney breast as the two sets of chimneys had been built as one. They could not separate them, so the old chimneys are still in the wall as a reminder of the lost row of houses.

The School grounds were extended to cover the area of two cottages and a row of trees, now mature, was planted in their basements.

New trees and one remaining stucco house in Compton Road.

These trees were planted in the basements of the demolished houses and the remaining stucco house neatly restored at the end. The school grounds were extended to the road and over the site of the old Friends Cottages North. The drawing on the next page shows the enlargement of the site.

The Plan of the Enlarged School Site

First Presbyterian

The early Presbyterians of Covington organized a congregation in 1841 under the leadership of the Reverend William Orr. Orr came to Covington in May of that year to open a school for young women. Orr preached in a rented room on Madison Avenue. The congregation was officially organized in November 1841 with 15 charter members. The first two elders of the congregation were Matthew McMurtry and William Ernst.
During the end of the year 1841, member William Ernst financed the construction of a temporary frame church building (25 x 40’) on Madison Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets. A more permanent brick church was erected in the following year on 4th Street west of Madison. The dedication of this new church took place on December 25, 1842. The congregation paid $3,500 to construct the building.

Reverend Orr stepped down as pastor of the congregation in 1844 to devote more time to his thriving school for young women (Orr’s Female Academy). The Reverend John Clark Bayless was named the second pastor of First Presbyterian Church. Bayless resigned in May 1854 and was succeeded by the Reverend John M. Worrall. Reverend Worrall remained at the Covington church until 1878. Under his guidance, the Second Presbyterian Church was established in December 1854 (later known as the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church). Reverend Worrall was also responsible for the construction of a new First Presbyterian Church in 1871-73. This new edifice was designed by the renowned Cincinnati architectural firm of Walter and Stewart. The red brick façade featured a spire rising 185’ into the sky. The total cost of construction amounted to $86,108.00. The church was located on West 4th Street adjacent to the First Baptist Church (also designed by Walter and Stewart 1870-1873).

The congregation continued to grow and prosper. In 1914, the young ladies of the church established an “industrial” school to train boys and girls in the domestic arts. Classes in basket weaving and sewing were held each Saturday afternoon. During the World War I era, sixty members of the church served in the armed forces. Three of these young men died in service to their country. The pastor of the congregation, the Reverend Hugh Leith, served as a chaplain in the United States Army.

The 1930s were a busy decade for the members of First Presbyterian. In December 1930, the tall spire on the church building was removed. This decade also witnessed the closing of the Sunday school program in the Austinburg neighborhood of Covington. First Presbyterian Church had sponsored this school for more than 40 years. The biggest event of the decade was the 1937 flood. Floodwater did considerable damage to the church building. Over 5’ of water destroyed most of the floors, woodwork and furnishings on the first floor of the building. In all, the congregation financed over $4,000 in repairs to the church building.

In 1941, the congregation celebrated its centennial. At this time, the basement of the church building was remodeled into a large assembly room and four additional Sunday school classrooms. The festivities of the centennial year were only damped by the United States entry in the Second World War. Twenty-two members of the congregation served in the armed forces during the conflict. Joseph Ehmet Jr. and Theodore Walker made the supreme sacrifice.

The neighborhood surrounding the church began to change in the 1930s. The 1937 flood and the construction of new suburban communities south of Covington convinced many members of the congregation to move. By the 1950s, the neighborhood had grown more commercial. Many of the congregation’s members no longer lived within walking distance of the church.

In 1955, Lakeside Presbyterian Church was established in the suburban community of Lakeside Park. First Presbyterian lost 23 members to this new congregation. By the mid-1950s, the church building on 4th Street was in a deteriorating condition. A number of members began discussing the relocation of the church to a more viable location. On January 9, 1957, the congregation voted to acquire a new location in a more suburban setting. A large tract of land was acquired between the Cities of Covington and Fort Wright on the Highland Pike. On this site, a new church was dedicated on September 17 1961. The last service to be held in the old 4th Street Church was conducted on September 10, 1961. The building was demolished in 1963 to make way for the construction of the Covington Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building.

A Brief History of the First Presbyterian Church, Covington, Kentucky 1841-1991 (in the collection of the Kenton County Public Library) Paul A. Tenkotte, Downtown Covington Churches (Covington, KY: Kenton County Historical Society 1986) Kentucky Post, October 30, 1914, p. 1 and November 11, 1930 p. 1.

Watch the video: Travaux de façade peintures Groupe Le Carré (August 2022).