One of my favourite objects in the museum and now the subject of a designated Room 3 exhibition: The Meroë Head.
BM staff at the weekly staff breakfast were introduced to the team behind the conservation, interpretation and display of this remarkable object – buried in the sands of Sudan and discovered in 1911.
The head, made of cast bronze using the “lost wax method”, once formed part of a statue of the Roman Emperor Augustus (ruled 27 BC-AD 14).
The statue was decapitated by the rivals of Rome, and ritually buried far from the borders of the Roman Empire.
The Room 3 display returns the head to its former glory – showing how important lighting and good object mounting is to a successful exhibition. Even more amazing is that the lighting lets people see ancient grains of sand fused to the head – almost as if it had just been uncovered!
Compared to other Room 3 exhibitions (search the blog for more information!) there was more of a focus on contextualisation.
The lead curator explained that when deciding which information to share alongside the head, context was a big priority: not just historical context in the ancient world, but in the modern world also.
As a result, the head was shown alongside photos from different periods of history – from the ancient to the present day, of various leaders and rulers whose statues had suffered a similar fate.
For those of you who prepared a Room 3 Exhibition proposal, you will remember the importance of narrative and telling a story – this story of Africa and Rome is brilliantly told.