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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 4.5 million visitors to attend a festival, an exhibition, display or activity. Individual blockbuster exhibitions have been so popular they have attracted up to 300,000 visitors. Our current partnership runs to 2022 – ensuring that many people will have the opportunity to engage with world cultures through the museum's programmes 

Over the course of 24 years, bp has backed numerous special exhibitions – including the highly successful Scythians: warriors of ancient Siberia. This explored the rich and ancient culture of the Scythian people and their influence around the world – a culture that was buried in the Siberian permafrost for thousands of years.


Other major bp exhibitions have included Sunken cities: Egypt's lost worlds, which looked at the remarkable tale of two lost cities submerged under the sea for a thousand years; Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation, which delved into the history of one of the world's oldest continuing cultures; Ming: 50 years that changed China, which explored the golden age of the Ming dynasty; and Vikings: life and legend, which considered the extraordinary people who created an international network across four continents.


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. Together, these exhibitions and events have drawn over 4.5 million visitors to discover important stories.


The bp exhibition

Troy: myth and reality

This thought-provoking exhibition which attracted over 200,000 people told the stories of  Troy – from the Trojan horse to Troilus and Cressida – that have fascinated and inspired people for more than 3,000 years. Scholars and explorers had been in a race to rediscover the site of ancient Troy, and the revelations made by archaeologist Henrich Schliemann at Anatolia, Turkey in the 1870s, changed the face of this epic tale forever. 

This was the first major Troy exhibition in the UK and the first to feature the archaeological discoveries made at the site of Troy since they were on display in London in the 1870s. The revelation that Troy may have been a real place and that the legend may have a been a reality had fascinated archaeologists for centuries. Schliemann’s excavations between 1870 and 1890 unearthed discoveries at the suspected site of ancient Troy that would see him become famous the world over. 

In the exhibition, more than 300 outstanding objects revealed the impact of the stories of Troy as they had been told and retold across millennia. Many sayings often used today are taken from the Trojan cycle of myths, such as the‎ ‘weakness of an Achilles heel’ and the ‘Trojan horse of deception’. Throughout the Trojan cycle of myths, the Greek hero Achilles experiences love, loss, anger and betrayal at the hands of the Trojan war. His eventual death was caused by an arrow shot by Paris to his heel, the only part of him not covered by the divine protection embalmed on him by his mother. In an exciting collaboration with Chatsworth House, the gilded arrow in the heel of Filippo Albachini’s (1777-1858) marble sculpture, Wounded Achilles, was restored especially for this exhibition.