British Museum and Department for Education launch resources to support the new history curriculum

  • Teaching history with 100 objects is a series of stimulating free online resources for teachers each based around a museum object which connects with key elements of the new history curriculum.
  • It uses object based learning to enable a wide understanding of UK and world history to support the history curriculum at Key Stage 1 (ages 5-7), and 2 (ages 7-11) in primary and Key Stage 3 (ages 11-14) in secondary. Each resource includes information, teaching ideas, images and links to video and other media.
  • Objects have been selected from the British Museum’s collection and those of partner museums across the country to trace British and world history from around 700,000 years ago to 1066 and then from 1066 to the present day.
  • The list of objects and the resources have been developed and written by the British Museum with support from the Department for Education.
  • The first tranche of 20 resources will be available online from today at

Today, the British Museum and the Department for Education launch a set of new online resources to assist in the teaching of the new national history curriculum for England. Teaching history with 100 objects has been written and produced by the British Museum and supported by the Department for Education. Key stages 1 and 2 in the new history curriculum examine a timespan of British history and a range of world cultures which correspond precisely to the major strengths of the British Museum collection, and collections across the country. In secondary schools the curriculum at Key Stage 3 builds on the same principles and offers the opportunity to mobilise and make available a national collection to complement and enrich learning for older students.

Objects are vital components in teaching and learning about the past. They contain within them huge potential for arousing the interest of young people, for stimulating enquiry and opening up cultures for investigation. The updated, in-depth content of the new curriculum makes it important that teachers have access to reliable information that has been selected and presented for them as education professionals.

The first tranche of 20 teaching resources will be available from this morning and include objects as diverse as the famous Sutton Hoo helmet from the British Museum, which transformed our understanding of Anglo-Saxon England; Guy Fawkes’ lantern from the Ashmolean Museum which offers young children the chance to study a famous individual and a famous event and The State Entry, a huge painting by Roderick MacKenzie (1856-1941) from Bristol Museum & Art Gallery depicting the proclamation of Edward VII as Emperor of India and is an extraordinary springboard to teach students about the British Empire.

World history will be examined through objects including a Mayan lintel, a Roman medical encyclopaedia translated into Arabic and a bronze vessel from Shang China. The mummy and coffin of Asru, dating from around 700BC, and important pieces in Manchester Museum’s Egyptology collection will also feature.

A further 30 resources will be available from the end of September with all 100 accessible at the end of December 2014.

The development of the resources has been in partnership with a number of museums across the country. Around half of the one hundred resources will connect to British Museum objects and the remainder to objects from museums across the country, including Bristol, Orkney, Wiltshire, Northern Ireland, Norfolk and Reading among many others. Each object resource includes clear information for teachers on how the object fits into the curriculum, an object fact sheet, teaching ideas based on the object, images which can be printed or used on interactive whiteboards in the classroom, links to further online content including A History of the World in 100 Objects website where applicable; relevant BBC Class Clips and other footage and links to places to visit; museums with relevant collections; historic buildings and ancient monuments.

School Reform Minister Nick Gibb said “Gaining a deep knowledge and broad understanding of the history of our nation and the world is a vital part of preparing young people for life in modern Britain. The new history curriculum has been designed to raise academic standards and to ensure pupils are taught about the important events and people who shaped that history. These rich and beautiful resources, from one of the world’s leading museums, link directly to that new curriculum, and will help bring to life the history pupils are being taught in the classroom.”

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum said ‘The British Museum is committed to showing how object based learning can bring history to life. This project will enable every primary and secondary school child in the country to access museum objects from the magnificent to the mundane but all of which can teach us about our global history. This is an extremely exciting project for the British Museum and our partners to be involved in as we seek to make a reality of our ambition to engage all children across the UK with museum objects which tell both local and global stories.’

Dr Janet Barnes, CBE, chief executive of York Museums Trust, said: "We are delighted to be part of this nationwide project which will become a valuable resource to schools teaching the new history curriculum. This resource benefits from the strength and diversity of collections from regional museums all over Britain. We hope it will capture interest, encourage debate and inspire children to learn more about the events and people which shaped the world we live in today."

Dan Snow, historian and broadcaster said ‘The British Museum has got one of the greatest collections on the planet and a reputation for engaging audiences in the UK and beyond by pioneering different ways to reach out and share its treasures. This is the most exciting project yet. Partnering up with other museums it is providing amazing resources for young people where they really need it, in the classroom. The wealth of sources, images and links will enliven any lesson and foster a deeper understanding and love of the past in anyone who comes into contact with them. The British Museum is pioneering new ways of learning, harnessing what is best from our past to help people live richer and fuller lives in the present.

Notes to Editors:
The British Museum Learning Department:

The Museum is used by educators of all kinds to learn about cultures and teach history through the exploration of objects. The Museum’s Learning, Volunteers and Audiences Department embraces education in its broadest sense; it aims to bring the collection to life for millions of visitors each year in its galleries, by virtual visits online and throughout the UK and the rest of world with its partnership work. The British Museum receives around 250,000 school visits a year.

Images available to download here:

For further information
For further information please contact: Hannah Boulton on 020 7323 8522 or