British Museum Spotlight Loan

Stock photo

A British Museum Spotlight Loan, Troy: beauty and heroism, will be hosted at Haslemere Educational Museum from 10th February to 7th May 2022, as part of the British Museum’s National Programmes. This touring exhibition follows on from the British Museum’s major exhibition, Troy: myth and reality. Through a competitive application process, Haslemere Museum was one of only three venues in the UK selected for this Spotlight Loan.

Helen and Achilles are central characters to the story of the Trojan War; the young Greek queen Helen is the most beautiful woman in the world, whose abduction by the Trojan prince Paris triggers the ten-year war, whilst the short but glorious life of Achilles is the tale of one of the greatest Greek heroes – each are fascinating and complex figures in their own ways.

Focusing on significant moments from the lives of Helen and Achilles through the themes of beauty and heroism, four objects will be on display. The Spotlight Loan features an Etruscan funerary urn, dating from around 125BC–100BC, portraying Helen’s embarkation for Troy with Prince Paris. In addition, a 2,500-year-old black-figure Athenian amphora shows the brutal side of Achilles taking revenge on Prince Hector, whilst other side shows the messenger god Hermes with the goddesses Athena and Aphrodite as they prepare for the Judgement of Paris.

These ancient objects are supplemented with two artworks on paper. They include a drawing by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882) entitled, Cassandra, showing the prophetess Cassandra in anguish as the fate of her brother Hector looms. An etching by Pietro Testa (1612–1650) entitled, The Birth and Infancy of Achilles, shows a composite scene of episodes from Achilles’ early life.

Specially created 3D scans will also provide close access to the objects, a first for the British Museum’s touring programme. These will be available at Haslemere Museum through a collaboration with Sketchfab: visitors will be able to access the objects on their devices through QR codes and for viewing at home, reflecting the ever-increasing value of digital content.

Co-curator of the exhibition, Victoria Donnellan says, “Following the success of the Troy exhibition at the British Museum, it is very gratifying to be able to bring an exciting selection of related objects to audiences around the UK thanks to the Museum’s National Programmes. The ancient story of Helen and Achilles is a fascinating one and I’m so pleased we can portray the various facets of beauty and heroism through these rich objects, especially with the 3D offering.”

This touring show will convey key moments in the story of the Trojan War that define the lives and character of these two figures, as interpreted by ancient and modern artists.

Museum Chairman, Melanie Odell MBE, stated, “Haslemere Museum is thrilled to have been chosen as one of only three museums in the country to host this British Museum Spotlight Loan. It will also be a great opportunity for us to display our own artefacts, related to and complementing the subject, and we look forward to welcoming regular and new visitors attracted by the loan. We are most grateful to the British Museum for their support in helping us to put this exhibition together and I must take this opportunity to thank and congratulate the staff from both museums for their hard work in bringing the project to fulfillment under these difficult circumstances”.

A British Museum Spotlight Loan Troy: beauty and heroism will be on display at Haslemere Educational Museum from 10th February to 7th May 2022, Tuesdays – Saturdays 10am until 5pm.