The British Museum and ‘La Caixa’ Bank Foundation sign an agreement to organise four major exhibitions
The collaboration will bring to Catalonia some of the masterpieces of the great civilisations that are currently on display in the British Museum. Most of them are pieces that are rarely loaned to other museums and that will be seen in Spain for the first time ever. The four projects will focus on Medieval Europe, Ancient Greece, the Pharaohs of Egypt and the Phoenicians. Between 2016 and 2020, the exhibitions will be displayed in Barcelona, Girona, Tarragona, Lleida, Palma and three other ‘CaixaForum’, the centres that normally host the exhibitions promoted and organised by ‘La Caixa’ Bank Foundation. The Bank Foundation of ‘La Caixa’, which is the biggest bank in Catalonia, is the section of the bank that focuses on welfare projects committed to society, education, science, the arts and culture.
London (CNA).- The British Museum and ‘La Caixa’ Bank Foundation, which is the section dedicated to social and cultural initiatives of the biggest bank in Catalonia, will collaborate to organise four big projects between 2016 and 2020. The exhibitions will come from the British Museum’s collection and will be focused on Medieval Europe, Ancient Greece, the Egyptian Pharaohs and the Phoenicians. One of the most valuable pieces that will be loaned out is a figure from the Lewis chessmen, which is one of the most iconic collections in the British Museum. The projects are to be exhibited in eight ‘CaixaForum’ centres in Spain, which normally host the exhibitions promoted and organised by ‘La Caixa’ Bank Foundation, including the centres in Barcelona, Girona, Tarragona, Lleida and Palma de Mallorca. ‘La Caixa’ Bank Foundation Deputy Manager Elisa Durán stated that the collaboration “is a milestone” that builds on “the excellence” of the foundation’s exhibitions.
The agreement between the British Museum and ‘La Caixa’ Bank Foundation will bring to Catalonia some of the masterpieces of the great civilisations currently on display in the British Museum. Most of them are pieces that are rarely loaned to other museums and that will be seen in Spain for the first time ever.
The first exhibition will be called ‘Medieval Europe: Power and Legacy’ and will arrive at the ‘CaixaForum’ centre in Madrid in 2016 and in Barcelona in 2017. The exhibit will display a timeline from 400 to 1500 AD and will show the main events, key characters, cities and conflicts that shaped the Middle Ages. The kings of that era and life in the court will also be analysed, as will be the wars, the birth of the kingdoms, daily life in the cities, the role of religion and the Middle Ages’ legacy today.
Ignasi Miró Borràs, director of the cultural section of ‘La Caixa’ Bank Foundation, stressed that one of the most valuable masterpieces that the British Museum will transfer for the exhibition is ‘a piece of the Lewis chess set’. Indeed, this ancient set of chess figures is one of the most iconic pieces in the British Museum. The board game set, which was found on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland but is believed to be of Scandinavian origin, is “the most complete board game set kept in a museum” and dates back to the 12th century.
The second exhibition planned is ‘Ancient Greece: Athletes, Warriors and Heroes’ and will display pieces of the Greek collection of the British Museum such as armour, jewels, sculptures and pottery. The exhibition will focus on the concept of competition in Ancient Greece, not only in an Olympic or sporting sense, but also including other spheres of daily life, such as politics, theatre, oration, music and war. This exhibition will arrive in Barcelona and Palma, amongst others, in 2018.
Another great civilisation included in the agreement is that of Ancient Egypt. The exhibition ‘Pharaohs: Kings of Egypt’ will analyse the Pharaohs’ rites, symbols and ideologies through the British Museum’s Egyptian collection, which is one of the most valuable collections in the world. The aim is to show visitors those aspects of the Pharaohs that are less popular and to do so with more than 130 pieces being displayed, embracing more than 3,000 years of history. The Egyptian display will travel across Catalonia between 2019 and 2020, stopping in the ‘CaixaForum’ centres in Barcelona, Girona, Tarragona and Lleida.
Finally, the agreement with the British Museum includes a big exhibition about Phoenician civilisation. This fourth and last display is still being designed, but will be on display in Barcelona and Madrid.
An ambitious agreement
The collaboration between the British Museum and ‘La Caixa’ Bank Foundation, which is worth 2 million euros, is one of the most ambitious agreements the museum has ever signed, especially due to the length of the project. According to the President of the British Museum’s board, Sir Richard Lambert, the collaboration is “unique” as it sets out “a relationship that will last 4 years” and which allows the museum to make its collection “the most accessible possible” to the rest of the world. “We are very pleased”, Lambert assured.
“We have agreements with different institutions all over the world”, Lambert said, but stressed that even so “it is important” for the British Museum that the collaboration with ‘La Caixa’ Bank Foundation “works out really well” and that visitors can have the chance “to see these amazing pieces and enjoy them”.
According to Elisa Durán from ‘La Caixa’ Bank Foundation, the aim is to “facilitate everyone’s access to culture” through an “exceptional collection” such as the British Museum’s.
This is not the first time that ‘La Caixa’ Bank Foundation collaborates with a major European museum. In 2009 an agreement was signed with the Louvre Museum and there are other projects going on with the Prado Museum in Madrid, and the MACBA (the Catalan acronym for the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona) and the Miró Foundation, both in the Catalan capital. “All the alliances and collaborations with the world’s main institutions are important” Durán stressed. She also encouraged visitors to enjoy the British Museum’s collection and “gain exposure to the great civilisations of history”.
The British Museum, founded in 1753, was the first public national museum in the world and welcomes some six million visitors each year. Its collection includes more than eight millions pieces covering two million years of history and human culture.