Discovering the World in the Eighteenth CenturyBook - 2003
Opened in 1753 as the world's first public museum, the British Museum epitomized the Age of Enlightenment's dream of a rational universe. Indeed, in many ways the museum was the age's most potent instrument: the incarnation of a world that could be parsed, classified, and comprehended through the physical observation of objects, all in the name of reason, progress, and civic improvement.
In this lavishly illustrated volume, published to coincide with a new permanent exhibit, the museum's centrality to the Enlightenment enterprise is explored through the stunning breadth and variety of its early collections. From painting and sculpture to scientific instruments to fossils, the incredible objects displayed in these pages testify to the museum's devotion to discovering and learning about the natural world, the past, and other civilizations. The story of how these global collections were amassed is brilliantly told and includes many accounts of the legendary collectors and expeditions that have made the British Museum one of the world's premier museums. 245 color, 25 b/w photographs.