Herbert Museum and Art Gallery

‘When I look back over the last decade at the Herbert Museum’s programme I am astounded at just how much support we have received from the British Museum to create engaging exhibitions.’

– Chris Kirby


The loans and touring exhibitions provided by the British Museum has created some catalyst for development, and in doing so a lasting legacy for our organisation. Through the British Museum partnership we have developed audiences, partnerships and staff expertise. We look forward to what this partnership can achieve going forward.

Throne of Weapons, 2005
Our productive relationship with the British Museum started in 2005 when we hosted the Throne of Weapons – a powerful contemporary art piece by Mozambique artist Kester. During its time in Coventry, the Throne was taken for a special service in Coventry Cathedral.

La Bouche Du Roi and China, Journey to the East, 2009
In 2009, the Herbert exhibited two concurrent British Museum exhibitions: La Bouche Du Roi was a large contemporary installation by Benin artist Romuald Hazoumé exploring the slave trade. The second was China, Journey to East which helped create a partnership with our neighbour Compton Verney and their important oriental collection; we also developed a close link with Coventry University’s Chinese student community.

La Bouche du Roi by Romuald Hazoumé
La Bouche du Roi by Romuald Hazoumé

Secret Egypt, 2011
The British Museum lent some key objects to Secret Egypt: Unravelling Truth from Myth, a Herbert exhibition which became the first venue of a national tour. At the time this was the most successful exhibition in the Herbert’s fifty year history.

Sikh Fortress Turban, 2013
The Sikh Fortress Turban spotlight exhibition provided a wonderful opportunity to engage with Coventry’s important Sikh community. Interestingly, during the exhibition, a local incident had raised an issue of trust between the community and the Local Authority. The turban display was used as a public meeting place for Local Council officials and members of the Sikh community to show a united friendship.

Roman Empire: Power & People, 2014
This touring exhibition provided a catalyst to present alongside Roman Empire: Power & People the first ever exhibition about the Roman occupation of the local region, drawing together loans from Leicester, Warwickshire, Nuneaton, Rugby and the Lunt Roman Fort. The exhibition helped to channel a significant number of people to the Lunt Roman Fort during the summer.

The Future?
Going forward we would love to work with the British Museum on developing co-curation projects around select items in its collection that might resonate with the local community and through this project work with a number of targeted groups in Coventry to explore their creativity and learning.

Chris Kirby, Director of Collections, Culture Coventry