The British Museum in London was the first national public museum in the World. Founded in 1753 and the fact that it has nearly 6 million visitors a year now is not just due to its exceptional and unique collections and artifacts, but also because it continues to strive to stay relevant.
Last week it announced new LGBTQ-themed guided tours led by a dozen volunteers who will take visitors to see objects also including an Athenian wine amphora with racy images of men getting intimate, and the museum’s most famous gay object, the Warren Cup, a Roman drinking vessel seen as the holy grail of gay history.Last week it announced new LGBTQ-themed guided tours led by a dozen volunteers who will take visitors to see objects also including an Athenian wine amphora with racy images of men getting intimate, and the museum’s most famous gay object, the Warren Cup, a Roman drinking vessel seen as the holy grail of gay history.
The Warren Cup shows two scenes of men making love. It survived because it was buried somewhere near Bethlehem in the 1st century AD, It resurfaced in the 19th century and entered the collection of a rich gay collector, Ned Warren. The museum purchased it in 1999 for £1.8m after debating its ‘suitability’ to being displayed to the general public because the Cup is considered more provocative today than it was by the Romans 2,000 years ago.
Last Thursday the Museum unveiled eight solid silver cups cast in the shape of the Warren Cup, each tinted to represent a different colour of the original Pride rainbow flag.. These “Pride cups”, were made by Hal Messel, a silversmith, and will be sold to raise funds for the campaigning charity Stonewall and for the museum’s work with the LGBTQ community.
Also on the tour visitors will see An 11,000-year-old carving of a couple making love, a gender-fluid depiction of a Babylonian deity dating from 1800BC and busts of the Roman emperor Hadrian and his lover Antinous. The oldest object on the tour is the Ain Sakhri Lovers, an 11,000-year-old calcite pebble found in a cave in the Judean desert and made by hunter-gatherers known as Natufians. It is the world’s oldest known depiction of a couple having sex. The genders are unclear and open to interpretation.
Sarah Saunders, the head of learning and national programmes at the museum said “What the objects on the tour all demonstrated was that same-sex love and desire and gender diversity have always been an integral part of human experience, but that the way they have been expressed has varied widely around the world and over time.”