The British Museum Collection with Dr. Andrew Roberts

The British Museum Collection with Dr. Andrew Roberts


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From the Rosetta Stone to the Parthenon Marbles, the British Museum holds some of the world's most famous and culturally significant artifacts. Today, it is an unparalleled museum of human history, claiming an artifact from every culture extant or extinct. A deep appreciation of the collection's significance requires an understanding of the context for its procurement and the ideas behind the museum's creation as the first public museum in the world.

During this conversation, you will discover the story behind its establishment in 1753 as a Universal museum, replete with a treasury of human knowledge from natural history and the physical sciences to art and history. Its foundation was one of the most profound expressions of the intellectual culture of the Enlightenment in Britain, born from the interests of various polymath collectors - particularly its founder Sir Hans Sloane - and a will to collect, display and study to aid the expansion of human knowledge.

We will explore how global trade, exploration, and British imperialism led to the discovery of some of its best-known, and sometimes most controversial, treasures, and how excavations of the grand palaces of Assyria and the lost ancient cities of Central America shaped its emergence as a repository of human material culture. Finally, we will discuss what the design and focus of the museum today says about contemporary museology and how to get the best out of your experience.

Led by Dr. Andrew Roberts, an ancient historian, and museum professional, this conversation will prepare potential visitors to explore the collection and understand the stories behind the star objects they will see. Our conversation will also answer questions about the historical origins of museums and collecting, and those who want to think about the museum as a complex artifact itself.

Eager to learn more about London? Check out our upcoming seminars and courses here!
Or explore the British Museum in person during a private walking tour with Context.

Andrew completed a PhD in Classics at King's College London where he specialized in how the Classical world shaped British politics and culture. His research interests range from Ancient Greece to the British empire, and he has tutored secondary school children in everything from Tudor England to the Second World War. Andrew especially loves the eclectic historical landscape of London which allows one to find ancient ruins or historic pubs amongst the modern city. He teaches ancient history to undergraduates at King's College London and is a keen cyclist and runner.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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