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The British Museum: The History and Legacy of Britain’s Most Famous Public Museum

Narrated by: Jim D Johnston
Length: 1 hr and 35 mins
Categories: History, European
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

The British Museum devoted itself to acquiring historical artifacts that showcased the influence and prestige of the British Empire, as well as the facilities in which to house them, surviving wars, financial challenges, controversies, and political pressures. In the process, it became one of the British Empire’s greatest cultural jewels, and to this day, it holds the distinctions of being the world’s first national public museum and the most venerated museum of its kind in Britain. 

Of course, there are problems with almost every museum’s collection, and the British Museum is a prime example. Objects in museums have to come from somewhere, and in many cases, the items on display were not passed on by the hands of the original owner. Put simply, museums have often acquired artifacts in dubious ways, and this was especially the case during the height of imperialism.

Dealing with objects claimed by someone else is a constant issue in the 21st century, as it was over a century ago when Edwards noted, “[The museum] testifies to the strength amongst us - even at times deeply tinged with civil discord - of public and patriotic feeling. Nor is this all. It testifies, negatively, but not less strongly, to a conscientious sense of responsibility, on the part of those who have administered British rule in conquered countries, and in remote dependencies of the Crown. Few readers of such a book as this are likely to be altogether unacquainted with national museums and national libraries which have been largely enriched by the strong hand of the spoiler. Into some such collections it is impossible for portions of the people at whose aggregate expense they are maintained to enter, without occasional feelings of disgust and humiliation. There are, it is true, a few trophies of successful war in our own Museum. But there is nothing in its vast stores which, to any visitor of any nationality whatever, can bring back memories of ruthless and insolent spoliation.”

The British Museum: The History and Legacy of Britain’s Most Famous Public Museum examines the origins of the museum, the buildings, and some of the most important items housed there. You will learn about the British Museum like never before.

©2018 Charles River Editors (P)2018 Charles River Editors

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