On display at the National Museum of Australia from today, 9 September, to 29 January 2017, this exhibition uses 100 objects from the British Museum’s encyclopaedic collection to explore human history from two million years ago to the present day.
Inspired by the highly-acclaimed 2010 radio series and book, which was produced in partnership with the BBC and Penguin Books, the carefully selected objects communicate the ideas and concerns of the people who made and used them, taking every visitor on a unique and compelling journey through time and across the globe.
A History of the World in 100 Objects invites visitors to travel along a timeline of human history and object creation revealing a series of compelling, and often very personal, human stories, examining issues as diverse as faith, power and global exploration.
The exhibition is arranged chronologically in eight sections, beginning two million years ago, through to the development of agriculture and the first cities; the development of empires; the evolution of religion; trade and invasion; Medieval times; exploration; and the industrial revolution up to the present day.
The objects in the exhibition represent a vast range of materials – from stone to gold and clay to plastic. They vary in size, from large Egyptian sculpture to a small exquisite gold llama from Peru.
A special highlight within the exhibition is the Meroë Head, one of the most important surviving portraits of Rome’s first emperor, Augustus. Originally part of a statue of Augustus that is thought to have been deliberately beheaded in antiquity; the bronze caused an international sensation when it was excavated in Sudan in 1910. The Head features in a section exploring power and philosophy between 700 BCE-100 CE, and speaks directly of the leader’s need to control his public image across a vast empire.
The exhibition also includes some relatively contemporary objects such as a credit card that is compliant with Islamic Sharia law – meaning no interest can be charged on the card.
The variety of material included in the exhibition creates a rich, absorbing and visually impressive celebration of manmade objects. While 100 objects in the show come from the British Museum, the National Museum has selected the CSIRO WLAN Test Bed (the precursor to modern Wi Fi) as the 101st object to go on display in the exhibition.
The National Museum of Australia in Canberra is the only institution on the eastern seaboard to host this remarkable exhibition.
Book your tickets to A History of the World in 100 Objects now atwww.nma.gov.au/100objects