Sneak preview: two new historic London exhibitions

Date Posted: 07/06/2013

Rachel Bailey visited The British Museum and the Museum of London who have teamed up to offer a combination of exciting exhibitions, both of which will open in October with various perks for a school trip.

She reveals why she thinks a school trip to London this autumn would be beneficial to groups of students looking to experience some materialistic history at the two new major exhibitions centred on gold, precious metals, jewels and gems.

Treasures from long ago

The Cheapside Hoard: London’s Lost Jewels is the new exhibition launched by the Museum of London, and is running from 11th October until 27th April.

Displayed in its entirety for the first time in over 100 years, students will be able to marvel over a priceless cache of nearly 500 late 16th and early 17th century jewels and gemstones. The collection of treasures was discovered in 1912, buried in a cellar on Cheapside in the city of London.

The museum sheds a new light on Elizabethan and Jacobean London regarding craftsmanship and consumption. It will also explore the mysteries that remain with the collection: who owned the hoard, when and why was it hidden, and why was it never reclaimed? Your school visit can study the secrets of the Cheapside Hoard, and perhaps come to some conclusions of their own as to who these mystery jewels belonged to.

Students can enjoy a directed route through a series of three sections, building up to the collections of items displayed according to category (for example, rings, chains, pendants). The items that I was fortunate enough to see during the preview were amazing; amongst them was a hat ornament in the shape of a salamander set in gold with cabochon emeralds from Colombia and table-cut diamonds, which was very impressive.

Gold from the Americas

The British Museum will showcase a collection of pre-Hispanic gold; Beyond El Dorado: Power and Gold in Ancient Colombia will run from 17th October until 23rd March.

Organised with Museo Del Oro, Bogotá, the exhibition will hold over 250 items from the Americas, displaying objects varying from a solid gold helmet (which I was lucky enough to have a sneak preview of) to animal-shaped pendants and charms.

Visiting schools will have the opportunity to learn of the rich and diverse cultures of Colombia before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, as well as see first-hand a range of items made from gold and other precious materials, providing insight into the values, myths and legends of civilisation at the time.

There is free to access to the Beyond El Dorado exhibition for students and UK teachers on a school visit.

School travel information

UK school groups and teachers can enter free of charge. Secondary school teachers will also find a learning pack available to support this exhibition, which will be aimed primarily at supporting self-directed groups studying Art and Design and will contain teachers’ notes and activities for students to do in the exhibition and as preparation/follow up. This will be developed over the summer to be ready for the public opening in October.

All groups (both schools and non-educational) need to pre-book visits to either museum in advance.

British Museum:
020-7323 8849

Museum of London:
020-7001 9844

Photo credit: The Museum of London.

School Travel Organiser's Guide