100 Histories of 100 Worlds in 1 Object
How many stories can a museum object have? Our departure point is the 2010 BBC Radio 4 programme (and subsequent book) A History of the World in 100 Objects narrated by then British Museum Director Neil MacGregor. Providing a colossal platform for the British Museum, the project reinstated the idea of the museum as a ‘view from nowhere’ and everywhere at the same time. It was presented as a place to see the world; yet without any reflection on how the institution itself obtained and reframed the objects in order to create its own seemingly universal narrative.
Ten years on and the world has changed. Museums are under increasing pressure to decolonise, to repatriate and to better represent. Our project turns to the formerly subaltern stories museums in ‘the West’ have left out. How can previously excluded voices be empowered to tell their own histories about these objects? This dynamic, long-term and multiple format publication project hopes to achieve more than an alternative history of the British Museum. Instead we will work towards a fusion of object stories and present legacies in museums through and with scholars, curators, and artists in and from the ‘Global South’. Our ‘new histories’ must be not just different methodologically and multilingual, but also dynamic and open for additions and narratives that others might want to add in future.
Together we can show that one museum object can have 100 histories and exist in 100 worlds. Learn more. Interested in contributing? Please see our Call for Action.
100 Histories is an international network of scholars, museum curators and cultural interlocutors, which builds connections, relationships, bridges, and facilitates dialogues with and between the Global South, at home and in the Diaspora. We also offer guest lectures, teaching, workshops and consultancy. See our FAQ for details.
Find out more about the conception and development of this project.
Learn more about our launch workshop in Jamaica in December 2019 and future planned events.
Explore our stories.
Latest blog post
- “In Jamaica about Jamaican artefacts”: Rachael Minott’s Head to HeadMy object biography is adapted from a spoken word piece delivered at Mona Campus in Kingston, Jamaica in December 2019. What had began as an academic paper became a personal… Continue reading “In Jamaica about Jamaican artefacts”: Rachael Minott’s Head to Head
Are you interested in producing a podcast series with us?
We are looking for a collaboration with a professional podcast producer who can support the creation of audio stories related to the objects we are exploring.
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100 Histories of 100 Worlds in 1 Object is a grassroots project. It has received funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Forum Transregionale Studien, Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG), and UCL Centre for Critical Heritage Studies.
If you would like to financially support the work we do, please do get in touch. Your generosity will allow us to tell more stories.
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Header: View of Port Royal and Kingston Harbour in the Island of Jamaica, Etching, Illustration to the ‘European Magazine’, 1782, British Museum, Prints & Drawings. © 2020 The Trustees of the British Museum. Our project was first launched at the University of the West Indies Mona, Kingston (here on the print), in Jamaica in 2019. This campus is not just any place: It is a former plantation site and a graveyard for enslaved people. Supported by the transatlantic slave trade, it was in Kingston where in the seventeenth century Hans Sloane (1660-1753) started collecting what later became the kernel of the British Museum and the Natural History Museum. By holding the workshop in Kingston, we symbolically ‘repatriated’ some object biographies.
Project History and Object Biographies images: © 2020 The Trustees of the British Museum.