BP is one of the British Museum's longest-standing partners, supporting the public programme on an annual basis since 1996 and encouraging over 3.8 million visitors to attend an exhibition, display or activity. We recently announced a further renewal of our partnership with the British Museum until 2022 – ensuring that many more people will have access to the best of the UK's culture well in to the future
British Museum Curator, Aurelia Masson-Berghoff, describes the Sunken Cities exhibition
Over the course of 20 years, BP has backed numerous special exhibitions – including the highly successful Sunken Cities: Egypt's lost worlds, and prior to that Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisations.
Other major BP exhibitions have included Ming: 50 years that changed China; Vikings: life and legend – the most popular BP supported exhibition at the British Museum; and Shakespeare: Staging the World. These and previous exhibitions have enabled nearly four million visitors to explore important topics such as the remarkable story of one of the world's oldest continuing culture of Indigenous Australians, the golden age when the Ming dynasty ran China as a global superpower, and how Vikings created an international network across four continents. They have also given a unique insight into the emerging role of London as a world city seen through the innovative perspective of Shakespeare's plays. In addition, BP has helped with special public events around Chinese New Year in 2008 and the Mexican Days of the Dead festival during which 80,000 people participated.
The BP Exhibition Sunken cities: Egypt's lost worlds
Submerged under the sea for over a thousand years, two lost cities of ancient Egypt were recently rediscovered. Their story was told for the first time in this blockbuster exhibition
This major exhibition focused on two lost Egyptian cities and their recent rediscovery by archaeologists beneath the Mediterranean seabed. It ran from 19 May – 27 November 2016, and was the Museum's first large-scale exhibition of underwater discoveries. It showed how the exploration of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus – submerged at the mouth of the River Nile for over a thousand years – transformed our understanding of the relationship between ancient Egypt and the Greek world, and the great importance of these ancient cities.
Likely founded during the 7th century BC, Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus were busy, cosmopolitan cities that once sat on adjacent islands at the edge of the fertile lands of the Egyptian Delta. After Alexander the Great's conquest of Egypt in 332BC, centuries of Greek (Ptolemaic) rule followed. The exhibition revealed how cross-cultural exchange and religion flourished, particularly the worship of the Egyptian god of the afterlife, Osiris. By the 8th century AD, the sea had reclaimed the cities and they lay hidden several meters beneath the seabed, their location and condition unclear. The exhibition showed how a pioneering European team, led by Franck Goddio in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, made use of the most up-to-date technologies to find them. Preserved and buried under the sea for over a thousand years, the exhibition's stunning objects range from magnificent colossal statues to intricate gold jewellery. They tell stories of political power and popular belief, myth and migration, gods and kings. The exhibition journeyed through centuries of encounters between two celebrated cultures presenting, along the way, iconic historical figures such as Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Hadrian and Antinous.