On our recent trip to the South Coast Master Wicker and I had a quick stopover in Canberra where we caught a couple of fascinating exhibitions. I showed you Bigger on the Inside last week. We also went to the National Museum of Australia to see the amazing A History of the World in 100 Objects from the British Museum.
It was really worth work a look. We spent about two hours there, although I think Master Wicker was done in about an hour. I don't think I've ever seen an Egyptian mummy before, and I'd certainly never seen the chronometer from the HMS Beagle, or realised how very small the worlds first coins were. I will share some of the objects I enjoyed most, or found particularly fascinating, and were easy to photograph.
A great deal of information can be discovered through the close study of a single object. Individual things, when approached in the right way, can unlock an understanding of how people lived- from how they worshipped to what they ate.
|Early writing tablet|
A cuneiform tablet showing part of the Epic of Gilgamesh, "the first great epic poem in world literature". A man is warned by God of an impending flood, and told to build a boat to save his family. It predates the Old Testament story of Noah and his Ark.
Kouyunjik (Nineveh), Iraq
|Statue of Ramses II|
About 1280 BCE
Temple of Khnum, Elephantine, Egypt
|Bust of Sophocles|
About 150 CE
|Head of Augustus|
Bronze, glass, calcite
I learnt that Buddha's long earlobes is a sign of his rejection of wealth - because he was born into wealth he had worn the customary heavy earrings which stretched his lobes, and we see this still after he has renounced the world to seek enlightenment.
|Seated Buddha from Gandhara|
Master Wicker's favourite object.
|Arabian Bronze Hand|
|Statue of Mithras|
The museum folks have done a great job with the installation of the exhibition- it's a stunning mix of old and new, the objects from antiquity displayed with modern accents, there's a great feel to the space, it's lovely just to be there, despite the admiring hordes.
Naturally I had an audio tour as I'm an audio tour kind of gal but there was really very good introductions to each area, as well as printed descriptions of each object. Some objects also had short videos displayed nearby introducing the objects by staff of the British Museum. All very informative.
I tend to think of blue and white porcelain as Delftware, but this is a Chinese plate, and the cobalt blue used was imported from the Middle East, possibly Iran, so apparently the Chinese call it Muslim Blue. Which makes sense when you think of all the old mosques decorated so beautifully with blue and white tiles.
|Chinese blue and white dish|
Jingdezhen, Jiangxi provence, China
|Albrecht Dürer's Rhinoceros|
|North American Frock Coat|
Painted moose skin, porcupine quills and otter hair
Wahgi Valley, Papua New Guinea
Painted wood, metal, rubber, fibre
Outside the exhibition is a wonderful tactile table where you can touch replicas of some objects. There were also Braille descriptions of the objects next to the English.
We nearly missed this, make sure to search it out.
National Museum of Australia
$20 adults/ $15 concession / $8 child / $45 family / $60 season pass
September 9 2016 until January 29 2017
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