100 ways to see history

Local | Bernard Charnwut Chan 26 Jun 2019

Some 15 years ago, the BBC and the British Museum started planning a 100-part series of short radio shows. The idea was to cover human history by looking at 100 items in the museum's collection. Broadcasts began in 2010, attracting millions of listeners and podcast downloads around the world.

A book and a hugely popular museum exhibition followed. And now A History of the World in 100 Objects has come to the Hong Kong Heritage Museum in Sha Tin.

To give an idea of the scope of this show, the oldest items in the exhibition are stone chopping tools made in Africa between one and two million years ago.

Other objects reflect mankind's development of farming, city life, religion and politics, trade, travel, music and art, science, industrialization and social movements.

Items on display come from almost everywhere in the world, including Indian carvings, Chinese tomb figures and Mexican masks.

Many of the objects are quite famous - like the 4,600-year-old Standard of Ur from Mesopotamia, the 12th century walrus-ivory Lewis chess pieces, the ship's chronometer from HMS Beagle, and Hokusai's Under the Wave print. Others, such as a modern credit card, seem less rare. As the exhibition explains, all have a place in human history.

The BBC-British Museum formula has inspired schools and communities to produce their own regional and themed variations. I wonder what would appear in A History of Hong Kong in 100 Objects?

The show lasts until September 9.

See www.heritagemuseum.gov.hk for details.

Bernard Charnwut Chan is chairman of The Jockey Club CPS Advisory Committee

standard@bernardchan.com

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