Last week the geek in me was let out big time. I haven’t looked forward to an exhibit so much since the National Library had the ‘Treasures from the World’s Great Libraries’ exhibit (oh, back in 2002). The cause for this girl getting her geek on was the Instameet for the National Museum of Australia’s exhibit ‘The History of the World in 100 Objects’ which is currently on loan from the British Museum.
Director of the National Museum of Australia, Dr Mathew Trinca officially opened the night, informing us that this exhibit encompassed more than 2 million years of history and that it was the story of human beings on the planet. He asked us to look for the connections and distinctions between the exhibits. He compared walking through this exhibit to the journey you take when you read great literature – that while they take us into the lives of others, these objects would give us the opportunity to connect with them, even though their times and cultures are so different from our own.
Next we listened to the National Museum of Australia’s Senior Curator Dr Michael Pickering. He highlighted how the collection was not only displayed chronologically, but also grouped according to themes, such as ‘Ritual and Belief’ and ‘Innovation and Adaptation’. He set us a challenge – to find the object that we most connected with, and to ask ourselves, “How does this relate to me?” so that history would become relevant to us. He laughed and told us that his favourite object was the Lewis Chessmen, partly because, like the chess pieces, he liked to dress up as a Viking and go into battle in his spare time. In speaking to him later, he also told me that he loved how these chess pieces were representative of so much more than chess, that in its simplest chess could be called a pre-cursor to modern day games. All rely on strategy and the careful consideration of the greater consequences of your moves, if you were to win the game overall. He also informed us that the Director’s favourite object was the Head of Augustus, a controller of a vast empire – and chuckled and said he’d leave us to draw our own conclusions about what that said about Dr Trinca!
“All humans, since our earliest ancestors, have relied on the things they made to live; objects are a universal human necessity. By bringing together the objects in this catalogue, what becomes clear is that they often reveal many other shared human concerns. Some reveal the human desire for knowledge… others expose our most solemn preoccupations; our attempts to understand the divine, to negotiate death, and our constant entanglement with warfare and conflict.” – A History of the World in 100 Object from the British Museum catalogue, NMA
We were then left to our own devices, to wander around the exhibit and take in the objects in our own time. One hour was no where near enough! Before we knew it, our private tour had come to an end. I don’t think I even made it through 50 objects! However, I did manage to capture some of my favourites.
Where: National Museum of Australia, Lawson Cres, Acton, Canberra ACT
When: 9th September 2016 – 29th January 2017
Open: Daily 9am-5pm
Cost: Adult $20, Concession $15, Child $8, Family $45
(All information written for each object is taken from the A History of the World in 100 Object from the British Museum catalogue, published by the National Museum of Australia)