Civilisations on Your Doorstep – 14 December 2020 – 14/12/2020 – Monday – BBC Four

From Roman marbles and Egyptian mummies to Renaissance masterpieces and African sculptures, in this special accompanying programme to Civilisations, Mary Beard goes in search of extraordinary works of art from all over the world that can be seen here in Britain.

Investigating the stories behind them – how they were brought here, why and by whom – Mary also asks some deeper questions about what they say about our relationship to the outside world. Starting with the last surviving cabinet of curiosities from the 17th century, Mary then tells the story of how our national collections came together – from their aristocratic beginnings and their subsequent democratisation to a more public 20th-century debate about what these collections represented and who they were for.

Along the way, Mary tackles some of the debates and controversies embedded in the very idea of what ‘civilisation’ is and asks some fundamental questions – how were our national collections built up? Through purchase or plunder? By collecting the art of the world, were we taking civilisation to others or civilising ourselves? And, most importantly of all, what do our collections tell us about who we are?

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About Civilisations

This show is broadcast on BBC Four, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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