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British Museum Celebrates Success of Public Service Partnership and Looks to the Future
Sphinx of Taharqo, c. 680 BC, Kawa, Sudan. This programme starts with a puzzle. Why does the face of an apparently ancient Egyptian sphinx resemble a black African. The answer leads to an exploration of the ancient kingdoms of Sudan at a time when black Pharaohs ruled Egypt. Copyright the Trustees of the British Museum.

LONDON.- The British Museum remained the most popular cultural attraction in the UK for a third year running, receiving 5.7 million visitors in 2009/2010, almost 200,000 more than in the previous year. On one day alone the Museum welcomed over 31,500 visitors for the Day of the Dead fiesta on 1 November which was supported by BP.

Virtual visitors continue to grow with the first phase of the online database completed in the last year. Collections Online now offers the public access to 1.85 million objects with over 15 million people visiting this resource for general interest and research purposes.

Temporary exhibitions continue to draw visitors, with Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler, supported by ArcelorMittal which concluded the Great Rulers series, receiving over 210,000 visitors. The success of Kingdom of Ife: sculptures from West Africa, sponsored by Santander with additional support provided by the A.G. Leventis Foundation, which has received over 66,000 visitors so far, led to the exhibition being extended by a month to 4 July 2010. Free exhibitions are hugely popular and continue to offer visitors a chance to explore more focused subject matter and provide unique insight into the British Museum’s unrivalled collection. The Museum’s display focusing on the great age of Mexican printmaking Revolution on Paper: Mexican Prints 1910-1960 supported by the Monument Trust and the Mexico Tourism Board, was seen by over 187,798 visitors.

The start of 2010 saw the launch of A History of the World, a public service partnership between the British Museum and BBC to tell a story of humanity through manmade objects. At the project’s heart is the BBC Radio 4 series “A History of the World in 100 Objects” written and presented by Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, which charts the diversity and changes in global, human history through objects in the British Museum’s unparalleled collection. “A History of the World in 100 Objects” has been one of the most popular programmes on BBC Radio 4 this year, with a weekly omnibus edition on the World Service attracting listeners from across the globe. To date over 5,456,000 people have downloaded the podcasts globally. In addition to the BBC Radio 4 programme the project has included an online resource, where other museums and members of the public can upload their own objects and associated stories to create an online museum; the CBBC television series “Relic” which broadcast 13 episodes; activities and further collaborations in the Nations and Regions between local BBC broadcast outlets and museum partners in their area. There are now over 450 partner museums involved in the project, 100 more since it launched.

A major redisplay of the gallery of Europe and the Mediterranean between AD 300 and 1100 (Gallery 41) has been made possible by a generous donation from Paul Ruddock, funder of the recently opened Paul and Jill Ruddock Medieval Gallery at the British Museum. The British Museum’s collection on this period are among the best in the world and reach from North Africa to Scandinavia and from the Atlantic to the Asian Steppes. The decant of the current displays will take place in summer 2011 and the new display will open in late 2013.

Sharing the collection continues to be a vital part of the Musuem's work. In 2009/10 the BM loaned 1973 objects nationally across the UK and through the International loans programme, the Museum lent 1160 objects to 105 venues outside the country, including da Vinci drawings to Atlanta, the Lewis Chessmen to five venues in Scotland and the Roman Discobolus statue to Istanbul to celebrate its season of European City of Culture.

In 2009/10, the touring exhibition China: Journey to the East, supported by BP, a CHINA NOW legacy project, featured the largest UK loan of Chinese material ever undertaken by the British Museum. With over 150 objects covering 3000 years, this exhibition has been seen by over 183, 000 visitors so far, enabling audiences across the UK to encounter Chinese history through real objects – from shadow puppets to picnic boxes. The exhibition has travelled to Bristol, Coventry, Basingstoke and Sunderland. Currently on display at York Art Gallery the tour will conclude at Manchester Museum later this year.

Looking ahead to 2010/11:
The Museum will commence a new series of Reading Room exhibitions exploring Spiritual Journeys starting with the BP Special Exhibition, Journey through the afterlife: ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead which opens on 4 November. The exhibition will focus on the British Museum’s unparalleled collection of Book of the Dead manuscripts on papyrus to present and explore ancient Egyptian beliefs about life after death. This exhibition will be the first opportunity to see so many examples displayed together and many never seen on public display before due to their fragile nature.

The series will continue in 2011 with Treasures of Heaven: saints, relics and devotion in medieval Europe and conclude at the start of 2012 with The Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam.

Afghanistan: Crossroads of the Ancient World will be a unique opportunity to see an exceptional collection of precious objects lent from National Museum in Kabul and which show how ancient Afghanistan was at the heart of cross-cultural connections. Each object tells a story of how the inhabitants traded with or were influenced by the fashions of their ancient neighbours. This exhibition will be in Room 35.

The British Museum | Collections Online | "Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler" |

Last Week News

July 2, 2010

Charles Saatchi Donates 200 Artworks Valued at More than 25 Million Pounds, Gallery to UK

SFMOMA Announces Exhibition that Re-creates 1946 Paul Klee Show of Prints

Egyptian Archaeologists Find Evidence of Unfinished Ancient Tomb

Fossil of Mega-Toothed Killer "Leviathan" Whale Found in Peru

Ulster Museum in Belfast Wins 100,000 Pound Art Fund Prize

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Largest Assembly of Cézanne Works Ever on View in Arizona

Los Angeles Show has Largest Traveling Exhibit of Mummies

'Against the Wall' by Marlene Dumas Opens at Serralves Museum

British Art Market Warns Against European Union Levy

Exhibition of New Paintings by Gary Edward Blum at Dolby Chadwick Gallery

Museum of the American Indian's "Native Musicians in Popular Culture"

Tomer Aluf, David Hornung, and Vithya Truong at Flowers

Frank Auerbach Painting of His Lover Makes 860,000 Pounds at Bonhams

Groundbreaking Program to Boost Indigenous Australian Numbers in Arts Leadership Roles

Prehistoric Bone Found in Veracruz to Be Analyzed

New Works by Mike Bouchet at Schirn Kunsthalle

A Month After Opening to the Public, Maxxi Presents the First Statistics

Prison Term for Monet Painting Thief in Poland

July 1, 2010

Post-War and Contemporary Evening Auction at Christie's in London Realises $68.6 Million

Metropolitan Announces 5.24 Million Annual Attendance, Highest Since 2001

MIT Museum's Polaroid Exhibit to Feature Exclusive Lady Gaga Polaroid Photograph

Christian Marclay: Festival to Be Presented at the Whitney

Carlos Urroz Redesigns ARCO: the Contemporary Art Fair of Madrid

Survey of Surf-Themed Art Opens at Three Galleries in Chelsea

Dutch Museum Expansion Project Designed by Hans van Heeswijk Unveiled

Toledo Museum of Art Names New Director Brian P. Kennedy to Lead Museum

UK Pavilion at World Expo 2010 in Shanghai Wins RIBA Lubetkin Prize

'A New Life' for Dan Baldwin at Signal Gallery in London

Indianapolis Museum Commissions Ball-Nogues for Pavilion Installation

Owen and Wagner Collection of Aboriginal Art Donated to the Hood Museum of Art

Richard Wright's Most Complex Painting to Date Unveiled at the Dean Gallery

Photographs of Female Bodybuilders by Martin Schoeller at Hasted Hunt Kraeutler

New Brand Identity for Science Museum in London

Stunning Single Owner Collection of Asian Art for Sale at Bonhams, Edinburgh

Exhibition of Photographs by Johnnie Shand Kydd Opens at the Estorick Collection

A Solo Exhibit of Michael Barletta Paintings and Drawings at Elisa Contemporary Art

Lock of Napoleon's Hair Sells at Auction for $13,000

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Announces 10th Anniversary Program for Latin American Art

June 30, 2010

Lost Ambroise Vollard Art Collection Sells for 3.5 Million Pounds at Sotheby's in Paris

Rudolf Leopold, Austrian Art Collector, Dies Today at 85

Exhibition Examines Artistic Practice and Current Events

Marilyn Manson and David Lynch Open Exhibition at Kunsthalle in Vienna

Highly Anticipated King Tutankhamun Exhibition Makes its Denver Debut

Ringo Starr's Gold Drum to Go on View at Met Museum

Ray Harryhausen Pledges Collection of Life's Work to National Media Museum

Schirn Kunsthalle Presents a 360-Degree Multi-Projection by Peter Kogler

Colonial Painting Found in Palacio de Bellas Artes Restored

Pobeda Gallery Presents Work from the Last 10 Years of Alexandra Catiere's Career

At the 25th Biennale, the New Generation of Art Dealers will Be in the Spotlight

Germany's Ruhr Region Turns from Coal to European Capital of Culture

Secret Portrait of Artist's Confiscated Children to Sell at Bonhams

Unique Unpublished Bawden Book Depicting Kew Gardens Acquired for Bedford

MoMA Installs Dinh Q. Le's The Farmers and the Helicopters as Part of Its Project Series

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam Announces New Work by Lawrence Weiner

Gaddafi's Artist Son Shows Off Paintings in Moscow

First Solo Museum Exhibition of the Work of Brian Donnelly, a.k.a. KAWS Opens at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

UCSB's University Art Museum Appoints Bruce Robertson as Acting Director

June 29, 2010

Sotheby's Contemporary Art Auction Realises $62 Million-Within Pre-Sale Expectations

One of the Fathers of Modern Chinese Art, Wu Guanzhong, Dies at 90

German Police Seize Stolen Caravaggio, Make Arrests

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MoMA Announces Exhibition of Design and the Modern Kitchen

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British, Dutch and Flemish Masters to Lead Sotheby's 2010 Summer Sale

Tate Britain Presents Duveens Commission 2010 by Fiona Banner

SMU Names New Distinguished Endowed Chair in Art History

Three Works by Bill Viola on Display at the Museo Picasso Málaga

Master Drawings from a Distinguished Collection to Be Offered at Sotheby's

Owston Collection Sale by Bonhams Raises AUS$13.1 Million

Rock Paintings at La Pintada Archaeological Zone Catalogued

Study of Latin American Art at Hunter College Transformed with $1 Million Gift

Selection of Original Prints from the Archive of Karl Blossfeldt at Foam

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to be Open 365 Days a Year

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June 28, 2010

Light and Language by Brigitte Kowanz in Retrospective Opening at MUMOK in Vienna

Paths to Abstraction Opens at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

Steve McCurry Launches New Exhibition at Birmingham Museum

Soviet Dictator Josef Stalin Statue Removed in Georgian Home Town

Fundación Botín Pays Homage to Russia's Valiant Efforts to Conquer Space

Definitive Collection of Collage Series by Mark Bradford Published in New Book

IVAM Celebrates Formula 1 Grand Prix with Installation by Lorenzo Quinn

Poet Laureate Curates Collection Display at Tate Liverpool

Brian Gross Fine Art Opens Ed Moses' Airborne at One Post Street

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LACMA to Screen Robert Adanto's Pearls on the Ocean Floor

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June 27, 2010

Camille Pissarro is One of the Stars Among Works Offered By Jerusalem's Matsart

One of the Greatest Archaeological Finds in History Conquers Toronto

LACMA Presents Most Extensive Retrospective of John Baldessari to Date

Fondation Maeght Mounts a Retrospective of the Work of Alberto Giacometti

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Jackson's '84 Victory Tour Glove Sells for $190K

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NEA Announces New Report on How Americans Use Electronic Media to Participate in the Arts

Most Popular Last Seven Days

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8.- Oxford's Bodleian Libraries unveil UK's first major Tolkien exhibition in decades

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