VIDEO: “Living with gods” exhibition inspired by Faith in Birmingham Gallery, says curator


“Living with gods” curator has revealed what makes the British Museum exhibition unique. During the talk at Barber Institute of Fine Arts this week, she said the Faith in Birmingham Gallery inspired the London based event.

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is running a four months programme called “Finding Faith”, with events and activities such as the talk given by the curator. She organised the “Living with gods: peoples, places and worlds beyond” exhibition at British Museum,  partner for the Brum based programme.

An exhibition about how people believe

Curator Jill Cook explains how objects of faith are displayed in a traditional museum setting: either art, or representing historical context. “Living with gods” aimed at changing this, by showing how people believe and follow religious ideas.

Watch the curator talk about the innovative side of the exhibition.


“Believing and belonging” through objects of faith

The curator says she initially intended another name for it: “Believing and belonging”. She explains that the beginning of religious worshipping coincided with the beginning of storytelling, of bonding and socialising. People started to gather around sacred spaces, such as the cave where they kept the statue of the Lion man, which is now part of the exhibition.

Carved out of mammoth ivory 40,000 years ago, it stands as the oldest know evidence of belief in humankind. It represents a being half man, half cave lion – the fiercest predator of the time, and is made out of the tusk of the largest beast living in the era. Jill explains the symbolism of the statue:

“It is a conversation about things we were frightened of, things we admired and wanted to maybe possess the power of. It took over 400 hours of work to made, a lot of time they spent not eating, keeping warm, hunting or protecting their children.”

How the museum display breaks from the BBC Radio 4 show

The British Museum exhibition opened at the beginning of November and will close on 8th of April 2018. The project also features a radio show exploring human beliefs and faith. The episodes of the show on BBC Radio 4 can be downloaded here.

Watch curator Jill Cook talk about the different challenges faced when organising such a display in a museum as opposed to the radio show.

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery have organised a coach day trip to visit the “Living with gods” exhibition. The departure is scheduled for 9 am on 4th of February, and it will cost £15/person, booking essential.


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