2 February - 6 May, Room 3
The Asahi Shimbun Displays
This room is one of my favorite parts of the British Museum, as it is constantly changing. The first display I saw was a crocodile mask from the Torres Strait Islands and the second was Hokusai's Great Wave off Kanagawa. I half-expected it to still be the Great Wave, but much to my delight it was something completely new.
My initial reaction was that it was only a model (Monty Python, anyone?) but as I learned more about it, I found out that this particular model wasn't some cheap toy but a beautifully crafted object made by craftsmen from Bethlehem around 1650. One of the reasons I love these displays is their use of sound. When the crocodile mask was featured, there was chanting from the Torres Strait islands and this time, they had chanting and music that could heard in the Holy Sepulchre. Nearby the actual model there was a video of how the model was put together out of its many pieces, which I thought incredibly enriched the exhibit. Closely inspecting the model, I was delighted to find that there was a small light being shone on the model that allowed you to see the carefully designed interiors of the model.
The walls contained your usual didactic material that illuminated the context of the Holy Sepulchre, which is the site of Jesus' tomb and a special place of Christian pilgrimage. On one wall, I learned that the Holy Sepulchre is a site of worship for six different Christian denominations: Roman Catholicism, Armenian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, and Ethiopian Orthodox. There was another wall that showed the history of how the church had evolved over the years.
Since this room changes so often, I find that this room is more progressive than is possible for other rooms in the British Museum to be. I think it's exciting that the museum employs sound and video to add to the experience of whatever object is being displayed. This display is definitely one that any visitor of the Hajj exhibition should catch while at the museum.