Showcasing the pre-eminent art collection in Western Australia

British Museum and WA Museum in exclusive CHOGM exhibition partnership

09 Jun 2011
Queen from the Lewis Chessmen.© The Trustees of the British Museum

Premier Colin Barnett today announced that the Western Australian Museum and the British Museum have established a partnership to hold an exclusive exhibition during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth.

Mr Barnett announced the partnership while visiting the British Museum in London as part of preparation for planning for a new museum in Perth.

“The British Museum is one of the most famous and successful museums in the world and I took the opportunity to discuss plans for Western Australia’s new museum and the cultural significance of museums in our society with Mr Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum,” he said.

 The partnership between the British Museum and the Western Australian Museum will create a memorable exhibition for the CHOGM in Perth later this year.

The special exhibition will comprise of artefacts sourced from the collections of the British Museum and the WA Museum to represent most of the 54 Commonwealth countries.

'Extraordinary Stories: The Commonwealth Objects from the British Museum’ will open in October at the WA Museum Perth as part of the cultural programme for CHOGM and will be on display until February to ensure the people of WA will have plenty of opportunity to see these important objects,” the Premier said.

“This exhibition will offer highlights of the British Museum’s collection from the Commonwealth, filled with unexpected stories and will take visitors on a 1.6 million year journey around the world.”

Culture and the Arts Minister John Day said the exhibition will be unique to Perth - no other CHOGM host country has attempted an exhibition like this before.

“The exhibition includes some of the British Museum’s most important objects, never before seen in Australia,” Mr Day said.

“Significantly, this exhibition also signals the beginning of an important relationship between our museum here in Perth and the British Museum in London which will, it is hoped, lead to ongoing collaborations.

“This will be an extraordinary exhibition as the name suggests:  we will be showing the earliest evidence of tool-making by humans on the planet - stone hand-axes from the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania crafted probably at least a million years ago.

“At the other extreme, is the Throne of Weapons: a work created by the Mozambique sculptor Kester - the throne is a 20th century piece and is made entirely out of decommissioned automatic weapons collected in the wake of the civil war in Mozambique.”

The exhibition’s significant religious pieces include one of the earliest expressions of Buddha in human form, a 2nd century AD carving from Ancient Gandhara in Pakistan, and Hindu temple sculptures from Orissa in India.

The exhibition also has examples of buried treasure, featuring a priceless Gold Torque from Celtic Britain and items from a hoard of Byzantine silver objects buried for safety in Cyprus.

The exhibition will open on October 22, 2011 and will run through until February 5, 2012.

A full list of objects in the exhibition can be found at the WA Museum website at:

Image credit:

Queen from the Lewis Chessmen. Probably made in Norway, about AD 1150–1200 © The Trustees of the British Museum