Autumn at British Museum


Written by Esme Rees
13 Thursday 13th October 2016

Header image: Esther Mahlangu (b. 1935), detail of BMW Art Car 12, 1991. © Esther Mahlangu. Photo © BMW Group Archives.

It's worth spending an afternoon losing yourself in London's awe-inspiring British Museum. Explore the incredible history of Egypt and South Africa in two intriguing exhibitions currently on show: the BP exhibition Sunken cities: Egypt’s lost worlds (until 27 November 2016) and South Africa: the art of a nation (27 October 2016 - 26 February 2017). 

The BP exhibition Sunken cities: Egypt’s lost worlds tells the intriguing story of two lost cities of ancient Egypt that were recently rediscovered. Over the last 20 years, world-renowned archaeologist Franck Goddio and his team have excavated spectacular underwater discoveries using the latest technologies. Discover their incredible story in this unmissable exhibition. 

Stele of Thonis-Heracleion, Thonis-Heracleion, Aboukir Bay, Egypt (SCA 277)

©Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation - Photo: Christoph Gerigk 

South Africa: the art of a nation is the UK's first major exhibition on South African art. Your 100,000-year journey starts with incredible examples of early rock art – some of the oldest art in the world. From there, be amazed by 800-year-old gold sculptures from an ancient kingdom, be moved by powerful anti-apartheid pieces, and be inspired by cutting-edge contemporary works. You’ll even find a brightly painted BMW, created by artist Esther Mahlangu. See the history of a nation from a new perspective and celebrate the diverse art created by the many people who have helped shape South Africa’s story.

Gold rhino. From Mapungubwe, capital of the first kingdom in southern Africa, c. AD 1220–1290. Department of UP Arts, University of Pretoria.

Ox-shaped snuffbox, late 1800s. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Both exhibitions have concessionary rates for students and a special 2-for-1 student ticket offer on weekdays after 14.30.

The BP exhibition Sunken cities: Egypt’s lost worlds is sponsored by BP and organised with the Institut Européen d’Archéologie Sous-Marine and the Hilti Foundation.

South Africa: the art of a nation is sponsored by Betsy and Jack Ryan. Logistics partner IAG Cargo.

Keep up to date and find out more about what's on at


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