Published: 25 November 2014

A history of the world in 8 million objects

What is the British Museum for now?

In this year’s J.P. Postgate Lecture, Dr Jonathan Williams, Deputy Director of the British Museum, will examine the changing role of museums in the 21st century.

The British Museum was set up by Parliament in 1753 to be freely available to the general public. But how can it fulfil its obligations to its global publics today – at a time when audiences (physical and digital) are larger than ever, but traditional sources of public funding scarce?

Traditionally seen as focused on the ‘great civilisations’ of antiquity, how should the British Museum seek to encompass the modern world within its exhibitions and collections? How should it learn from the enormous success of its recent exhibition, ‘Germany: memories of a nation’?

As the British Museum initiates a major public conversation on the future of its buildings, and looks around the world (including at Liverpool’s own museums) for inspiration, this lecture is a unique opportunity to learn about these developments – and to inform them.

The lecture will take place at 5.45pm on Tuesday 9 December in the Sherrington Building and will be followed by a reception. Tickets are free but must be booked in advance via:

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