BP and the British Museum

BP is one of the British Museum's longest-standing partners, supporting the public programme on an annual basis since 1996 and enabling over 4 million visitors to attend an exhibition, display or activity. We recently announced a further renewal of our partnership until 2022 – ensuring that many more people will have the opportunity to engage with world cultures through the Museum's programmes well in to the future

Over the course of 20 years, BP has backed numerous special exhibitions – including the highly successful Sunken cities: Egypt's lost worlds – which attracted over 300,000 visitors.  This blockbuster exhibition told the story of two lost cities submerged under the sea for over a thousand years.

Other major BP exhibitions have included Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation; Ming: 50 years that changed China; Vikings: life and legend, and Shakespeare: staging the world. These exhibitions have drawn over four million visitors to explore important stories – including the remarkable history of one of the world's oldest continuing cultures in Indigenous Australia, the golden age of the Ming dynasty, the Vikings who created an international network across four continents, and 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 and the Mexican Days of the Dead festival during which 80,000 people participated.

The BP exhibition Scythians: warriors of ancient Siberia

This major exhibition explored the rich and ancient culture of the Scythian people and their influence around the world – a culture that had lain buried in the Siberian permafrost for thousands of years. The first show of its kind in the UK for 40 years, it attracted over 120,000 visitors.

The Scythians comprised powerful nomadic tribes who thrived in a vast landscape stretching from southern Russia to China and the northern Black Sea between 900 and 200 BC. They were exceptional horsemen and warriors as well as feared adversaries and neighbours of the ancient Greeks, Assyrians and Persians. The exhibition told their story through exciting archaeological discoveries and over 200 objects.

Many of the featured items dated back over 2,500 years and were exceptionally well preserved having come from burial mounds in the high Altai mountains of southern Siberia where the frozen ground prevented them from deteriorating.

Among the objects preserved by the permafrost were multi-coloured textiles, fur-lined garments, gold jewellery, wooden drinking bowls and even a highly decorated leather bag which contained remarkably well preserved lumps of cheese over 2,000 years old.

Deer-shaped gold plaque. Second half of the 7th century BC. © The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, 2017. Photo: V Terebenin

Horse headgear. Late 4th–early 3rd century BC. © The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, 2017. Photo: V Terebenin

Gold plaque of a mounted Scythian. Black Sea region, c. 400–350 BC. © The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, 2017. Photo: V Terebenin

Felt flying swan pendant. 3rd century BC. © The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, 2017. Photo: V Terebenin

Pair of earrings. Late 4th–early 3rd century BC. © The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, 2017. Photo: V Terebenin

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With a two-way influence between the culture of the Scythians and their settled  neighbours, many objects showed evidence of cultural interaction – from Scythian wine-drinking learned from the ancient Greeks and Persians, through to ancient Greek craftsmen who depicted archers in Scythian dress.

The exhibition explored who the Scythians were, what they wore, who they traded with as well as what they ate and drank. It concluded with an exploration of what happened in about the second century BC when the Scythians disappeared and were replaced by other nomadic powers.

The BP exhibition Scythians: warriors of ancient Siberia ran from 14 September 2017 to 14 January 2018.

The next BP special exhibition

We'll be announcing our new major exhibition in June 2018, which can be visited later this year and in early 2019.

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