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British Museum - major exhibitions for 2017

The British Museum

Season preview

AS WELL as The American Dream: pop to the present, the British Museum has three major exhibitions planned for 2017, plus The South Asia Season 2017 and the re-opening of The Joseph E Hotung Gallery for China and South Asia.

Beyond the Great Wave (title TBC) – in Room 35 from May 25 to August 13.

This exhibition focuses on the last thirty years of Japan’s most renowned artist’s, Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), career from around 1820 to 1849. It features a broad selection of works – from the iconic print Great Wave of c. 1831, to sublime painted works done right up to his death at the age of 90.

The exhibition examines Hokusai’s personal beliefs through major paintings, drawings, woodblock prints and illustrated books – many never seen before in the UK.

Hokusai continued to use landscape and wave imagery as a major subject during his later years, but his interest in nature, in exploring the mutability and minutiae of all phenomena in his art, was increasingly tied to a spiritual quest.

The exhibition is upported by Mitsubishi Corporation.

Treasures of the Scythians (title TBC) – in The Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery from September 14 to January 14, 2018.

The Scythians were one of the great nomadic civilisations of antiquity. First mentioned by the Assyrians in the ninth century BC, admired by Herodotus and respected enemies of the Achaemenids, they developed a powerful alternative economy which for centuries dominated the huge region stretching from Siberia to the Black Sea.

This exhibition includes royal Scythian tombs in Siberia and Kazakhstan and shows objects of exceptional beauty which would not normally survive. They include multi-coloured rugs, fur-lined garments and accessories, unique horse headgear, beautiful gold objects and much more.

This exhibition is based on exceptional loans, mostly from the Hermitage in St Petersburg, and includes new archaeological discoveries and scientific discoveries.

Faith and Society (title TBC) – in Room 35 from November 2 to April, 18 2018.

Faith and Society, the fourth collaborative project between the British Museum, BBC and Penguin, looks at what objects reveal about the role and expression of beliefs in the lives of individuals and communities through time and around the world. It will show that ever since the emergence of our own fully modern human species over 100,000 years ago, people have expressed beliefs in a mixture of ideas and actions usually focused on supernatural entities in the search for the meaning of life.

Objects will reflect the need to symbolise feelings beyond words and reveal familiar and recurrent human concerns about the passage of life from conception to death and sometimes beyond. Beliefs support natural human desires for good health, happiness, security, hope, comfort, identity, protection and power to such an extent that the project might ask whether our species should be known as Homo religiosus rather than Homo sapiens.

A radio series and book by Neil MacGregor, former director of the British Museum, will accompany the exhibition.

The South Asia Season 2017

The British Museum’s South Asia Season 2017 brings together different strands of activity to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Indian independence and UK cultural ties. The season includes: two spotlight tours, one of an important sculpture of Ganesha, the other on the theme of The music of courtly India to selected UK venues; An Object Journeys display at Manchester Museum, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the continuing development of the joint British Museum/Manchester Museum South Asia partnership gallery and long term loans to Devon and Durham.

Gallery opening – The Joseph E Hotung Gallery for China and South Asia in November 2017.

The British Museum will reopen the Joseph E Hotung Gallery for China and South Asia in November 2017. The new display will include a new narrative for China and South Asia which will bring the story up to the present day. The redisplay will allow the Museum to add new types of objects to the gallery such as paintings and textiles which need regulated conditions for display. These will complement the existing types of objects on show, such as sculpture, ceramics, lacquer, jade and metal ware.

Updated interpretation, new lighting and design will allow this extraordinarily rich collection to be better seen and understood by the Museum’s seven million annual visitors.

British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG