This exhibition was inspired by the A History of the World in 100 Objects. A joint project between the British Museum and the BBC, it had at its heart a 100 part Radio 4 series by Neil MacGregor, the Museum’s Director, “exploring world history from two million years ago to the present” via 100 objects from the British Museum’s extraordinary collections. The project also encouraged museums everywhere and individuals to add their significant objects to the site.
The British Museum’s project really caught the imagination of the public and the media. It shows how individual material items, made by people long ago, changed history, and it shows how complex history can be made vivid to people now by using objects to explain it.
The project continues to grow. This Guardian blog post by Charlotte Higgins and Jeremy Deller is a lovely account of the ongoing story. As the authors say, the project “may prove a watershed in the way museums and galleries work with the public, with each other, and with (and as) broadcasters.” We agree (and libraries and archives can join in too).
The great success of the History has inspired museum curators and other people interested in heritage to use the 100 objects motif to tell their own stories. I’ve included links to some I particularly like over on the right (you might need to scroll to see these). The idea has also proved very popular with authors and publishers.
Over on Collections in a Cold Climate, my professional blog, I reflect in more detail on the 100 concept, why I decided to use it at Bradford, and how we adapted it.
Thanks British Museum and BBC for a brilliant idea!