British museum

Tat Britain: Museum gift shops are naff – but necessary

19 October 2019 9:00 am

Exit through the gift shop. Pick up a postcard, a magnet, a novelty eggcup in the shape of Queen Elizabeth…

All money is dirty – but it can still be used for good

3 August 2019 9:00 am

Whitney museum: no space for profiteers of state violence // dismantle patriarchy // warren kanders must go! // supreme injustice…

‘Head by Head’, 1905, by Edvard Munch

Absorbing – a masterclass in print-making: Edvard Munch at the British Museum reviewed

13 April 2019 9:00 am

An eyewitness described Edvard Munch supervising the print of a colour lithograph in 1896. He stood in front of the…

Ivory plaque of a lioness mauling a man, ivory, gold, cornelian, lapis lazuli, Nimrud, 900 BC–700 BC. [© The Trustees of the British Museum]

The Assyrians of Ashurbanipal’s time were just as into pillage and destruction as Isis

1 December 2018 9:00 am

The Assyrians placed sculptures of winged human-headed bulls (lamassus) at the entrances to their capital at Nineveh, in modern Mosul,…

Right, a page from the Hamzanama, c.1558-73, depicting Elijah rescuing Amir Hamza's drowning grandson. Left, 'The Raven addresses an assembly of animals', c.1590.

The true face of Islam won’t be found in mosques or Muslim schools, but at the British Museum

3 November 2018 9:00 am

In Britain today, Islam in its original essence is not to be found in mosques or Muslim schools, but on…

‘A Voluptuary under the horrors of Digestion’, 1792, by James Gillray

From ancient Egyptian smut to dissent-by-currency: I object at the British Museum reviewed

8 September 2018 9:00 am

‘If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear,’…

French Phidias: Auguste Rodin in his workshop in Meudon, c.1910

How Rodin made a Parthenon above Paris

28 April 2018 9:00 am

‘My Acropolis,’ Auguste Rodin called his house at Meudon. Here, the sculptor made a Parthenon above Paris. Surrounded by statues…

The ties that bound us

28 October 2017 9:00 am

Only Neil MacGregor could do it — take us in a single thread from a blackened copper coin, about the…

War horse: horse headdress made of felt, leather and wood, late 4th–early 3rd century BC

The icemen cometh

23 September 2017 9:00 am

You wouldn’t want to stumble upon the Scythians. Armed with battle-axes, bows and daggers, and covered in fearsome tattoos, the…

Buried treasure: an archaeologist diver brushes clear a bovid jaw discovered in Aboukir Bay

The treasures of Alexandria revealed: British Museum’s Sunken cities reviewed

4 June 2016 9:00 am

It was not so unusual for someone to turn into a god in Egypt. It happened to the Emperor Hadrian’s…

How a Liberal MP's inability to draw led him to invent photography

30 April 2016 9:00 am

William Henry Fox Talbot had many accomplishments. He was Liberal MP for Chippenham; at Cambridge he won a prize for…

Detail of mosaic depicting the martyrdom of Saints Castus and Cassius, 12th century, at the Cathedral of Monreale, Sicily

Norman Sicily was a multicultural paradise – but it didn’t last long

9 April 2016 9:00 am

A few weeks ago, I looked out on the Cathedral of Monreale from the platform on which once stood the…

‘Macbeth, Banquo and Witches on the Heath’, 1794, by Henry Fuseli

Why do some museums insist on playing piped music into exhibitions?

9 April 2016 9:00 am

There was a genteel brouhaha last year — leaders in the Times, letters to the Telegraph, tutting in the galleries…

RA’s Giorgione show is so rich it’s worth returning to several times

19 March 2016 9:00 am

Walter Sickert was once shown a room full of paintings by a proud collector, who had purchased them on the…

'Lion Hunt', 1861, by Eugène Delacroix

Galleries are getting bigger - but is there enough good art to put in them?

2 January 2016 9:00 am

Until a decade and a half ago, we had no national museum of modern art at all. Indeed, the stuff…

Why the greatest innovations do only one thing, but do it well

12 December 2015 9:00 am

McDonald’s got rid of cutlery. Uber does not allow you to pre-book taxis. Amazon began by selling only books. Conventional…

Standing figure of the ancient Egyptian god Horus, wearing Roman military costume, 1st–2nd century AD and Seated figure of the ancient Egyptian god Horus, wearing Roman military costume, 1st–2nd century AD

Egypt: where gods are born and go to die

29 October 2015 9:00 am

Over the stupefyingly long course of Egyptian history, gods have been born and they have died. Some 4,000 years ago,…

Detail from Gundestrup cauldron, 100 BC–AD 1

The British Museum's Celtic masterpieces aren't Celtic - but they are fabulous

26 September 2015 8:00 am

‘Celtic’ is a word heavily charged with meanings. It refers, among other phenomena, to a football club, a group of…

Detail of a maiolica vase, c.1565–1571, a star piece for both Horace Walpole at Strawberry Hill and later for Baron Ferdinand at Waddesdon Manor

Forget Vienna - Britain now has its own chamber of curiosities at the British Museum

11 July 2015 9:00 am

Art is not jewellery. Its value does not reside in the price of the materials from which it is made.…

Cornelia Parker’s War Room at the Whitworth, Manchester

What are modern museums really for?

30 May 2015 9:00 am

On 1 July, at a swanky party at Tate Modern, one of Britain’s museums will bank a cheque for £100,000,…

Reimaging the lost masterpieces of antiquity

28 March 2015 9:00 am

For centuries there has been a note of yearning in our feelings about ancient Greek and Roman art. We can’t…

James McAvoy is wrong – the arts are better off without subsidy

14 March 2015 9:00 am

The season of cringe-making acceptance speeches at arts awards ceremonies is nearly over, thank heavens. But it hasn’t passed without…

Many more Germans were displaced in 1945 than Indians during partition

8 November 2014 9:00 am

What Radio 3 needs is a musical version of Neil MacGregor. The director of the British Museum and now a…

For my family, the Vikings exhibition was about as much fun as being raped and pillaged

12 April 2014 9:00 am

Have you managed to book tickets to the Viking exhibition at the British Museum yet? If you haven’t, my advice…

‘Hercules Killing Cacus’, 1588, by Hendrik Goltzius

Upside down and right on top: the power of George Baselitz

22 March 2014 9:00 am

It’s German Season in London, and revealingly the best of three new shows is the one dealing with the most…