Held at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, this exhibition covers two million years of human history in one hall.
It started out as a joint project of BBC Radio 4 and the British Museum compromising of a 100 part Radio Series written and presented by the British Museum’s Director Neil MacGregor. At least one of his selections, the Rosetta stone is not in this exhibition, but Australia has two exhibits – an ancient Aboriginal basket, and the wifi machine prototype invented by the CSIRO, Object No 101.
The History demonstrates how we have shaped the world and how it shapes us. The Objects come from all over the globe, often demonstrating how trade or a conquest influences the local indigenous art.A cynical friend of mine said that this exhibition shows what great plunderers the British were. Nevertheless, whether you agree with him or not we are the beneficiaries of the generosity of the British Museum permitting these priceless objects to leave their traditional home and travel a vast distance to the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.
From the humble flint to the solar powered lamp and credit card, this is an absorbing and deeply satisfying exhibition with ample texts describing each object. I do not know what Neil MacGregor’s selection criteria were but in an exhibition such as this one can’t help but play the game of what you would have included. Why not the phonograph, the brownie box camera, the telephone, the morse code clicker, radio, television, and the personal computer. I could continue and then we would have 200 objects in world history. The exhibition is dimly lit but large print explanatory text boards are available for the myopic.
This exhibition is deservedly very popular and to avoid the lengthy queues that I witnessed even on a week day, arrive early in the day. It runs until the 29th January.
Featured Image – Early Credit Card, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2009.