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Art From Us MUSEUM GUIDE : British Museum : Room 1

Today we arrive at British Museum Room 1 – Enlightenment, for our weekly Museum Guide excursion, led by Divvya Nirula.

The Age of Enlightenment refers to an era of immense scientific and societal progress in America & Europe. The period spanned 3 centuries, lasting from about 1680 to 1820. Presented here are our top three must-see objects on view here. Next time you visit the museum, do not miss these!

1. The Piranesi Vase, 600-800 AD, by Unknown
2. The Fenton Vase, 600-800 AD, by Unknown
3. Pheasant figure, circa 1750-1770, by Unknown

Image credit for artworks : British Museum

Some fun facts about the Museum :

  • Room 1 is the oldest gallery of the British Museum. It was originally intended to showcase King George III’s private library and collection.
  • Colonialism and slavery were important markers of the Enlightenment era, apart from scholastic and economic progress.
  • The period also saw scholars attempt to take the masses away from the myths of Christianity. They not only challenged religion with science, but also undertook studies of various other religions from all over the world.
  • The growing colonial empire of the British provided them unmatched access into the lives, cultures, histories of people from all over the world.
  • As trade flourished for the colonisers, the colonised people suffered irreparable damage. Colonies were looted for their agricultural produce, arts & crafts, natural resources. Even the people were bought and sold as slaves by their colonial masters.

A Final Thought :

The gallery houses relics and legacies of an important time in human history. We may view the Age of Enlightenment as one of the most progressive periods. Wherein humankind made tremendous leaps economically and scientifically. Or, we may view it as a dark and regressive time, when the colonial overlords enslaved and abused their subjects and looted their countries. Or perhaps these two are not mutually exclusive at all. The narrative keeps shifting, depending on who is telling the story.


Visit Art From Us Archive for Museum Guide collated by Divvya Nirula. Here you shall find more suggestions on where you should visit next. And what you should see there. 

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