“Museums enable people to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment. There are institutions that collect, safeguard and make accessible artifacts and specimens, which they hold in trust for society.” Museums Association
While museums act as repositories of artifacts for the historical benefit of the keen and willing, it takes away much importance and significance for the which the pieces/art/works were originally made.
It is my intention to visit 5 museums, explore the pieces within them and document with keen interest, their content .
THE BRITISH MUSEUM.
I became particularly excited when the talk of visiting a select number of museums arose, and the first on my bucket list was undoubtedly the British Museum. This museum has housed an artifact directly connected to my ancestral origin and I had on a few occasions, turned down the chance to visit this repository of artifacts from all over the globe, out of the mere fact that I might be overcome by raw emotion and rage. This is a place that is dedicated to human history and culture, permanently housing about 8 million works and is ranked as the largest and most comprehensive in existence, with works originating from all continents, yet, I still ask these questions that never gets answered appropriately; weren’t these pieces stolen or looted? Why won’t these works be returned to their lands of origin in order to maintain the right balance and fulfill the main purposes for which they were made? I guess these are questions for another day.
If anything, starting with works from ancient Egypt was the best way to kick-start my journey through the British museum. I was filled with intrigue and awe for the works on display. The style employed must have been very naturalistic, as this is evident in the all the works exhibited. The placement of the works within the museum has been carefully thought-out to create a very interactive connection between the audience and the sculptural piece, thereby striking the right balance.
I must confess that I was overcome with indescribable emotion upon finally making contact with this piece (even if a case stood between us). The Queen Pendant Ivory Mask, stands revered as one of the most respected art pieces to originate from sub-Saharan Africa, representing the face of Nigeria’s buoyant and vibrantly diverse cultural background. I, initially expected the piece to be much larger than what was seen, and this made me appreciate it, and the skills of the master-craftsmen eve more. The strict attention to detail is phenomenal and highly impressive. The piece measures 24cm in length, 12.5cm in width and 6cm in depth. It is a piece that has been rendered utilizing a very naturalistic approach.
This will be the piece I pick as my main object in answering the question ‘what is it?’ .
Upon viewing the brass plaques, its evident to see that the Benin empire was opulent, culturally rich and traditionally vibrant, and these works were a celebration of such. The brass plaques also lays emphasis on the exposes to the military might of the the Benin empire, symbolic connotations as depicted in the use of animals like the mud fish and the leopard and also the presence of foreigners, mainly the Portuguese, with whom they shared good trade and diplomatic relations.