British Museum forthcoming exhibitions 2014

Please note that exhibition titles and dates are subject to change and should be checked with the press office before publication.

Major new exhibitions for 2014

Admission charge


The BP Exhibition: Vikings: life and legend

6 March – 22 June 2014
The Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery

In March 2014 the British Museum will open the Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery with a major new exhibition on the Vikings, supported by BP. The exhibition, developed in cooperation with the National Museum of Denmark and the Berlin State Museum, is the first major exhibition in England on this subject for over 30 years, and presents a number of new archaeological discoveries and objects never before seen in the UK alongside important Viking Age artefacts from the British Museum’s own collection and elsewhere in Britain and Ireland. The star of the show will be the remains of a 37-metre-long Viking longship, the longest ever found, and the Vale of York hoard, whose size and quality make it one of the most important finds of its type.

Supported by BP

Ancient Lives: new encounters with Egypt and Sudan (title tbc)

22 May – 30 November 2014
Room 5

Recent scientific analysis of mummies by the British Museum using state-of-the-art non-invasive procedures such as CT scanning and 3D visualisation has revealed a wealth of information about how individuals lived and died in Ancient Egypt and Sudan. This exhibition will explore the lives of eight people, who lived across a period of 5000 years between 3500BC and AD1500. From the daughter of a priest, to a temple singer and a child, this exhibition will get up close and personal with these individuals by understanding the food they ate, their mummification, their health and beliefs. Visitors will be invited to discover for themselves the mysteries of mummification through artefacts, interactive exhibits and other digital media.

Ming: Courts and Contacts 1400-1450 (title tbc)

18 September 2014 – 4 January 2015
The Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery

This exhibition will demonstrate how fifty years of the Ming dynasty transformed China into the country we know today, reflecting new research which highlights the inter-Asian connections that have played a key role in the formation of the Chinese state, society and culture.

Between 1400 to 1450 China was a global superpower run by one family who established Beijing as the capital. Ming China was thoroughly connected with the outside world and absorbed many fascinating influences resulting in some of the most beautiful porcelain, gold, jewellery, furniture, paintings, sculptures and textiles ever made. This major exhibition will include spectacular objects from all over the world, as well as recent discoveries from the excavations of royal tombs in China.

Germany (title tbc)

16 October 2014 - 25 January 2015
Room 35

In a year of many German anniversaries this exhibition uses the 25th anniversary of German reunification to address the significant knowledge gap about German history and culture in Britain, providing visitors with a new insight into Germany’s contribution to world history.

The exhibition will draw on objects from a 600 year period to explore the landscape, history, and culture of Germany from the height of the Holy Roman Empire and the age of Gutenberg through to post Cold-War contemporary Germany. Loans from across Germany will reflect the extraordinary shifts of borders and frontiers that define German history, its great, world-changing achievements and its devastating tragedies. The exhibition will feature the work of great German artists, from Riemenschneider, Durer and Holbein to Kollwitz, Barlach and Baselitz, as well as a wide range of objects that includes prints and maps, coin and medals, spectacular metalwork from clocks to armour, Meissen porcelain and Bauhaus furniture.

New exhibitions and displays for 2014

Free admission


Germany divided: Baselitz and his generation

6 February – 31 August 2014
Room 90

This exhibition will feature over 90 works on paper by some of the leading names in modern German art, drawn from the private collection of Count Christian Duerckheim. It will explore six key artists – Georg Baselitz, Gerhard Richter, A.R. Penck, Markus Lüpertz, Blinky Palermo and Sigmar Polke – all of whom migrated from East to West and redefined art in Germany in the 1960s and 70s and negotiated with the past on both sides of the Wall. Half of the works on display are by Georg Baselitz (b. 1938), and 34 of the works in the exhibition, including 17 by Baselitz, have been generously donated to the British Museum by Count Duerckheim.

From the Duerckheim Collection

Sutton Hoo and Europe AD 300–1100

The Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock Gallery

Opens 27 March 2014
Room 41

This will be a major redisplay of the British Museum’s Late Antique to Early Medieval collections and is the first full refurbishment of Room 41 since 1985. The design, object selection and interpretation will be completely refreshed with the aim of developing a more coherent narrative for the collections, and to display star objects more effectively than ever before. The project has been made possible through a generous donation by Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock.

The gallery tells the story of a formative period in Europe’s history. This time of great change witnessed the end of the Western Roman Empire, the evolution of the Byzantine Empire, migrations of people across the Continent and the emergence of Christianity and Islam as major religions. By the end of the period covered in the gallery, the precursors of many modern states had developed. Europe as we know it today was beginning to take shape.

The Admonitions Scroll and other masterpieces of Chinese painting

3 April – 31 August 2014
Room 91

This exhibition presents major works of Chinese painting and porcelain created in the South East of China, also called Jiangnan, a region near Shanghai along the Yangzi River. Paintings and ceramics from this region belong to the finest produced in China from at least the 6th century. The imagery and fine objects on display reflect the beauty and prosperity of the region, paintings feature the bustling life in the cities or depict elegant ladies and scholars in gardens and children herding cattle.

This exhibition celebrates the re-display of the Museum’s best known Chinese painting, the Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies scroll, in a new gallery space. The display will be further highlighted by silk paintings from Dunhuang in the Northwest of China.

Witches & wicked bodies

September 2014 – January 2015
Room 90

This fascinating exhibition co-curated by the artist and writer, Deanna Petherbridge, will investigate the changing depiction in prints and drawings of witches and witchcraft from the Renaissance to the end of the 19th century. Artists of the calibre of Dürer, Goya and Fuseli were drawn to the rich imagery and mythology that had built up around witches from classical times that ranged from hideously terrifying hags to bewitching seductresses intent on enslaving their male victims through their beauty.

The Asahi Shimbun Displays

Room 3

Room 3 sits just inside the Museum’s main entrance and hosts a series of free, regularly changing exhibitions focused on a single object or theme.

Pefect timing: the Mostyn Tompion clock

21 November 2013 – 2 February 2014

This display celebrates the work of Thomas Tompion and coincides with the 300th anniversary of his death placing the finest example of his work in its context of 17th century London.

From temple to home: celebrating Ganesha

27 February – 25 May 2014

A beautiful temple sculpture of Ganesha will be the central object and will help explore the different attributes of the deity, and the different ways he is represented. The display will also highlight the contemporary role of Ganesha, who is celebrated in the annual festival called Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav in which devotees make or buy models, and then immerse them in water.

Supported by The Asahi Shimbun.

Exhibitions at other venues in the UK

Free admission


Throughout 2014 the British Museum will be touring exhibitions to venues across the country through the Partnership UK programme, in addition to contributing loans to numerous other exhibitions and displays nationwide. Highlights include:

Curious Beasts: Animal Prints from the British Museum

A British Museum Tour

This exhibition explores our enduring curiosity about the animal world through the beautiful and bizarre imagery found in the rich print collections of the British Museum. The exhibition features works by artists including Albrecht Dürer, Francisco de Goya and George Stubbs and demonstrates the important role printmaking has played in our understanding of the natural world. This exhibition has been organised by Compton Verney in partnership with the British Museum.


National Museum Northern Ireland

28 February – 25 May 2014

Ferens Art Gallery, Hull

7 June – 31 August 2014

Supported by the generosity of the Dorset Foundation

Roman Empire, Power and People

A British Museum Tour

Roman Empire, Power and People is a unique touring exhibition, combining some of the most fascinating objects from the British Museum’s collections of Roman, Romano-British and Romano-Egyptian material, never before displayed together in this way. It will explore the story of the Roman Empire and its impact both locally in Britain and much further afield in the East. It will provide the opportunity for visitors across the UK to see these objects in their local areas for the first time.

The exhibition showcases some of the Museum’s finest pieces from the Roman period, with over 160 British Museum pieces on display. Each venue will include objects from their own collections of Roman and Romano-British material, setting a local context for visitors.

Objects in the exhibition include; sculpture from the villas of the Emperors Tiberius and Hadrian; representations of gods and emperors from as far apart as Hadrian’s Wall and the city he founded in Egypt, Antinoopolis; coins from the famous Hoxne treasure; beautiful jewellery and even near-perfectly preserved children’s clothing.


Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

21 September 2013 – 12 January 2014

Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery

1 February – 27 April 2014

The Herbert, Coventry

17 May – 31 August 2014

Leeds City Museum

20 September 2014 – 4 January 2015

McManus Galleries, Dundee

24 January – 10 May 2015

Segedunum Roman Fort

30 May – 13 September 2015

Supported by the generosity of the Dorset Foundation

The successful Spotlight tours and loans, supported by the Art Fund Prize and the John Ellerman Foundation, will continue into 2014 with the following objects:

Spotlight tour: Ming Vase

Four venue Spotlight tour of an iconic blue and white Ming vase, the largest Ming vase in the British Museum collection. This is in celebration of Ming collections across the UK, exploring the impact that this dynasty has had on Chinese identity, both in Asia and across the world. Developed to run alongside the British Museum’s Ming exhibition opening in September 2014.

The Burrell Collection

12 April – 6 July 2014

Weston Park Museum

12 July – 5 October 2014

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

11 October 2013 – 4 January 2015

The Willis Museum

10 January – 4 April 2015

Spotlight loan: The Pyramidion

Maidstone Museum and Bentliff Art Gallery

17 February – 12 June 2014

Spotlight loan: The Sikh Fortress Turban

Cartwright Hall, Bradford

22 February – 18 May 2014

New Walk Museum, Leicester

24 May – 17 August 2014

Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens

23 August – 16 November 2014

Museum of Lancashire

23 November 2014 – 15 February 2015

Additional venues to be announced

British Museum International Exhibitions

Throughout 2014 the British Museum will be touring exhibitions to several international venues. Highlights include:

The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning

The Cyrus Cylinder is one of the most famous objects to have survived from the ancient world. The Cylinder was inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform (the earliest form of writing) on the orders of the Persian King Cyrus the Great (559-530BC) after he captured Babylon in 539BC. It is often referred to as the first bill of human rights as it appears to encourage freedom of worship throughout the Persian Empire and to allow deported people to return to their homelands.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai (formerly Princes of Wales Museum of Western India)

21 December 2013 – 25 February 2014

Supported by Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, the Sir Ratan Tata Trust and the Lady Navajbai Trust.

The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece

A British Museum International Touring exhibition

For over two thousand years the Greeks experimented with representing the human body. From the prehistoric simplicity of Cycladic figurines to the realism of the Hellenistic age, Greek craftsmen gave form to thought in a rich harvest of artworks through which the human condition was explored and interpreted.

This exhibition examines Greek interest in human character as well as sexual and social identity. In athletics, the male body was displayed as if it were a living sculpture, and victors were commemorated by actual statues. In art, not only were mortal men and women represented, but also the gods and other beings of myth and the supernatural world. They were either conceived in the image of humankind or in monstrous combinations of human and animal form.


Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Martigny, Switzerland

22 February – 09 June 2013

Bendigo Art Gallery, Bendigo, Australia

02 August – 09 November 2013

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