100 amazing stories at A History of the World in 100 Objects exhibition


Dr Moya Smith (WA Museum Head of Anthropology and Archaeology) with Dr Belinda Crerar (British Museum curator) with the Head of Augustus. Andrew Ritchie d449972
Dr Moya Smith (WA Museum Head of Anthropology and Archaeology) with Dr Belinda Crerar (British Museum curator) with the Head of Augustus. Andrew Ritchie d449972

BELINDA Crerar studied for a PhD in Romano-British archaeology with the sole purpose of becoming the curator of the Romanic British collection at the British Museum.

Her ambition was temporarily realised four years ago when the permanent curator took a yearlong sabbatical but this only showed she had been focusing on the wrong path.

“I really did enjoy it, but discovered I wanted to do more exhibitions and focus on the public engagement side of museum work rather than the academic side,” she said.

Her current role as curator in the international exhibitions department brought her to Perth for the opening of British Museum exhibition A History of the World in 100 Objects at WA Museum, a continuation of a five-year partnership between the museums.

“The whole A History of the World in 100 Objects project started in 2007 when the BBC and British Museum started working on a collaborative broadcast,” Dr Crerar said.

“That was really successful so what we did in the British Museum in London was a kind of trail where all of the objects were left in their respective galleries but we created a map for visitors to find the ones featured in the show.

“After that we thought it would be great to bring them all together and tour it internationally.

“We’ve arranged it in chronological order because the real point is to try and bring awareness to how we got to where we are today.”

The exhibition includes The Queen’s lyre, Statue of Ramesses II and Head of Augustus.

The bronze statuary head of first Roman emperor Caesar Augustus was discovered perfectly preserved in 1910 underneath the steps of the Temple of Victory in the ancient Kush capital of Meroe, in modern Sudan.

“Augustus put a lot of statues up of himself and when the Kush invaded from the south in 25BCE they took a lot of them,” Dr Crerar said.

“He resolved the dispute diplomatically where part of the agreement involved the Queen of the Kush returning the statues, but apparently she didn’t return all of them.

“It had been deliberately buried, so anyone entering the temple walked on the head of Augustus. It’s an amazing story of an amazing object.”

Dr Crerar said her favourite item in the exhibition was a simple Victorian tea set, quite familiar and representative of a refined afternoon tea.

“But then you think about the global stories feeding into the creation of that tea set and what happened to put tea in the teapot, sugar in the sugar bowl and milk in the milk jug,” she said.

“We’re talking about British hostilities with China through to colonisation in India and the transatlantic slave trade on plantations.

“I hope people will perhaps find a new way of looking at familiar objects around us that we don’t usually think about.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: A History of the World in 100 Objects

Where: WA Museum, Perth

When: showing until June 18

Tickets: www.museum.wa.gov.au or at the door