Founded in 1753, the British Museum is now one of the world’s cultural treasure. Like many museums, he appeared on the basis of a private collection, his origins were a doctor and a naturalist Hansen Sloan, Robert Harley Earl and antiquarian Robert Cotton. Now the museum has about eight million exhibits that show the history of humankind from antiquity to the present day. On the basis of the collection of Robert Cotton has created a unique library, which in 1972 the decision of the British Parliament was separated from the museum and started its own existence.
The museum has a priceless collection of artifacts of ancient Egypt and the ancient East, ancient Greece and ancient Rome, East and South Asia, Africa and Oceania, the UK and Continental Europe, as well as unique artifacts of world culture of different eras.
Today the museum is controlled by the Director and the Board of Trustees, composed of 25 people. One of the members of the Board of Trustees, its deputy chairman, is Bonnie Greer, an American writer and social commentator. She is known for her essays on the problems of women and ethnic minorities, as well as upholding the idea that London was once the center of a vast colonial empire, has now become a global «hub» of the city, the center of culture in the context of globalization. This is her attitude to London is not surprising because Bonnie is directly related to the British Museum, which presents the whole world «in concentrated form.» We offer you a short story (video and text) Bonnie Greer about her vision of the British Museum.
Hi, I’m Bonnie Greer.
I’m a playwright, novelist, commentator and I was born on the south side of Chicago. I’ve lived here since 1986 and I’m Deputy Chair of the British Museum. This is See Britain Through My Eyes.
The British Museum is the ultimate Enlightenment institution. We hold a collection of seven million — plus objects and we hold them for all of the world, free to all of the world. So you walk through this dark aperture, this kind of classical Greek temple, the 18th century idea of the Enlightenment. It’s dark and tiny. And suddenly the museum opens up, full of light, full of movement where you see people of all colors and nations. This is like a Tower of Babel in a sense. There’s so many languages represented here.
This museum embodies the notion that we better learn about our own culture in relation to other cultures. And so the colonial era actually turned London into what it still is today: a hub city. So that the notion of globalization, in its good sense, actually you could say began at this place where all the peoples of the world have left behind their story. And so it is right that this collection in this museum sits in the middle of that hub. These objects actually help us to understand how to live together when they are together.
So many objects speak to me in this museum. But the one that really talks to me particularly is the Ashanti drum. It was discovered in Virginia in the middle of the 18th Century and is believed to have been brought there by a captain on a slaver ship. It looks like a tiny little thing here amidst all the other wonderful objects and you know, you may think, «Well, what’s the big deal about this?» I was a young school girl in the beginning of the 60s. And we were told, as black kids, that we had no links to anything and Africa was a savage, crazy, brutal, inhuman place. This drum puts the lie to this idea that there was no such thing as culture in Africa. And the beauty of it, it is here in the British Museum that I’m able to begin to weave that story together for myself. My dad, he was a factory worker. He would buy the Encyclopedia Britannica door-to-door. And of course, the Encyclopedia Britannica had the drawings of the British Museum in it. And so, I became acquainted with the Museum when I was very, very young. So now, to be a part of an institution that my dad read about and talked about to us which was started by an heiress who got a fortune through slavery. And now, at this point where I am here, an immigrant, a foreigner, Deputy Chair of the British Museum.
I think it could only happen here.
Useful words and phrases:
- Playwright — playwright (Note that the word playwright no suffix — er. Compare: writer).
- Novelist — novelist (Do not forget that the English novel — a novel, a short story — short story).
- Ultimate — the last, final; final, final.
- Enlightenment — Enlightenment (ideological trend, which originated in Europe, whose members promoted the dominance of reason over emotions. To achieve this, great importance was attached to the dissemination of knowledge. In a number of countries in Western Europe spread to 18 in. In England — from the 2nd half of the 17th century ., the largest representatives: John. Locke in England, Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, P. Holbach, KA Helvetius, Diderot in France, GE Lessing, I. G. Herder, Schiller, Goethe in Germany, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine in the US). Enlightenment, especially writers, often turned to antiquity, so Bonnie Greer Education mentions in connection with the Greek temple.
- Aperture — opening hole, the opening (of the door).
- Temple — temple, church.
- Tower of Babel — the tower of Babel. Bonnie metaphorically compares the British Museum, the Tower of Babel, as can be seen in the museum of various nationalities and hear different languages. (According to the Old Testament legend of building the Tower of Babel people speaking the same language, but determined to get to the heavens themselves, they angered God, who as a result of this mixed language, so that people no longer understand each other and stopped construction).
- Embody — implement (a); to represent, to personalize (smth.); encompass (some n. the idea).
- Hub city — city center «hub» city. (Similar to the hub airport — a hub). Bonnie Greer knows London as the center of culture, therefore, calls him a hub city.
- Peoples — peoples. (Note: the noun people (people) has no plural form. The form has a different meaning peoples — peoples).
- The Ashanti drum — drum Ashanti (Ashanti — the area in central Ghana. It was attached to the British in 1902, it was part of the former British Empire).
- Amidst — among between.
- Savage — savage, uncivilized.
- Weave the story together — linking the story together, to collect bit by bit. (Vision Africa Bonnie Grieg contrary to what was said in the school, it is made up of facts that Bonnie is in reality, one of those facts was drum Ashanti).
- The Encyclopedia Britannica — «Encyclopaedia Britannica» encyclopedia «Britannica» (the largest British Encyclopedia).
- Door-to-door — going from one house to another (on the agitators, peripatetic salesman). Greer’s father bought the «Encyclopedia Britannica» from retailers, salespeople.
And now we offer you to perform a test on the understanding of the plot.