The Lewis Chessmen Still Enchant after More than 800 Years

Submitted by: squrlz4ever 1 month ago in Misc
Another visit into the collections of the British Museum, this time with Curator Irving Finkel.

There are 12 comments:
Female 8,530
I struggle with the British museum, its the history of inperialism and colonisation tied to so much of its stuff- but equally they have exhibits which move me to tears. They have some helmets on display ( Sumerian? Babylonian?Not sure-) and i can envision looking across a valley as the sun rose, seeing light bounce of the massed helmets - being unsure of your fate, of the numbers- being cold, and afraid but excited- powerful stuff over thousands of years.
The V&A is my first love- somehow it is gentler, kinder- and by Christ they've got some cracking Furniture, and can stand drinking in a few of the textiles.
2
Reply
Male 10,079
madduck Interesting thoughts, Maddie. I share some of your unease about the British Museum's acquisitions. It's complicated, though. I was thinking about this recently in regards to the museums 100,000+ cuneiform tablets, most of which were basically looted from what is modern-day Iraq. Was their theft at the time wrong? Yes. Are the tablets safer in the museum than they would have been in Iraq, particularly in light of the chaos that occurred as a result of the Iraq War? Also yes.

What happened after the American invasion is heartbreaking and infuriating. Many of mankind's oldest and most precious artifacts were in Iraq's museums. This was the storied cradle of civilization, after all, and experts were warning the Americans that if they removed all local authorities those museums would be targeted. The Americans did little or nothing to protect the artifacts and the museums were mercilessly ransacked.
1
Reply
Female 8,530
squrlz4ever oh - i agree, but equally its a stark reminder of just how long such a brutal legacy can last- after all, had we left the middle East alone in the very first place would america have gone in? maybe not- i mean, while oil would always have been tempting it was only because they could get away with it.
1
Reply
Male 2,018
Museum  staff are very wonderful people to talk to.  I spent an afternoon in the Egyptian wing of the Louvre on a miserable, wintry February day in '93 or '94.  As there was no one else about, the local guide asked if we wouldn't mind if he walked with us through the gallery wing, as he didn't have anyone else about.  so we walked 3 or 4 paces behind and said nothing, unless we asked a question.  Then he provided all the information we could ask for.

How empty was the Louvre that day?  Well there were 4 guards in the room with the Mona Lisa, and when the two of us entered, we made 6 people total looking at it.  I understand that the Louvre is no longer this empty in the winter weekdays, which is too bad.  having the entire Egyptian wing to ourselves was priceless.  Sadly, the ban on photography inside the museum was very much in force then (cell phones weren't a thing then), so I have no photos of the inside at all.
1
Reply
Male 10,079
punko Sound like a wonderful memory. It's incredible to think you had the Mona Lisa more or less to yourselves. Not many people can say that.
0
Reply
Male 2,018
squrlz4ever I had taken my aunt for a side trip to Paris, when I visited her in the UK.  I was all ready with my Canadian French to order in the (rather empty) posh restaurant, when my aunt proclaimed upon entering "My God, I'd kill for a nice cup of tea!" After that, not a word was spoken in French.
1
Reply
Male 10,079
punko Parisians have become a lot more English-friendly in the past two decades.

On my first visit to Paris, if your French was provincial or, God forbid, you had an American accent, you could expect to be treated rudely. Now? Per your restaurant experience, French is optional almost everywhere. It's like a different city.
0
Reply
Male 2,018
squrlz4ever I my experience, both in France and Quebec, if you make the attempt to speak French, the locals will switch to English to make things easier for everyone, including themselves.

I think most of it is the simple act of hospitality, but some of it lies in that they'd simply rather not hear their language butchered by someone who can't speak it well.
0
Reply
Male 10,079
punko I think you're right about that. Unfortunately, I've had experiences in Paris where I was treated shockingly rudely over language. In the worst instance that comes to mind, I entered a hotel and made inquiries about a room. The man at the desk responded by ridiculing my French, then waved his hand toward the exit, with the clear meaning, "Get out. We don't want your kind here."

I remember leaving the hotel in a daze, so shocked at what had just happened that I was speechless (probably a good thing, under the circumstances).

This was the 80s, when some Parisians prided themselves on this kind of behavior and the treatment of visitors was at its worst. Also, I was very young then; I expect the concierge might not have treated someone older that way. I didn't let the few SOBs get me down, fortunately, and fell in love with Paris anyway.

Thankfully, it's been a long time since I've witnessed that kind of behavior.
0
Reply
Male 46,107
Irving Finkel or Albus Dumbledore?   You never see them both at the same time so . . .
2
Reply
7,056
 Very interesting
2
Reply
Male 2,850
Just finished a game of chess and logged on here.  Spooky.
2
Reply