Puncture the Screen: Who We Are And Where We Come From

Written by Megan Gates, this interactive online piece invites you, the audience member, to take on the role of guest curator for a new exhibition at the British Museum.

You have twelve artifacts to choose from, which you can decide to display, hide in the museum’s basement, or repatriate to their home country. Some items have been in the collection for many years, others are proposed loans.

Seven places have been kept for this exhibition, which should display what is “truly British”. Some of the pieces are very well-known; others less so. Some have rich and ancient, even sacred histories. Some have more recent significance.

Can you – with the help of an image and audio description of each piece’s history, make the decision which suits both business, sponsors, the public, and the wider world?

I found this piece very interesting and it was quite difficult to make the decision of which seven pieces “I” should be displaying together. There are some pieces which might on the surface seem quite similar, but would they really complement each other?

And, when listening to the audio pieces, was “I” being led into making a choice which may have been very different without the constraint of context or opinion?

I worked through Who We Are And Where We Come From in around 35 minutes, taking time to listen to all the evidence presented. After the final decision is made, the display is opened and a newspaper article produced which certainly stirs things up.

This is a show which is both educational and entertaining, and will certainly inform my next visit to the British Museum’s collections. Every piece has its own story and origin, and we do not necessarily see enough of that made public.

Who We Are And Where We Come From is available on-demand in the Puncture the Screen festival from 18-31 July. It is also available in the Exhibition Space at Broadway Cinema, Nottingham, on 17 July.