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BBC and British Museum launch large scale digital museum

18 January, 2010

In support of an unprecedented public service partnership focused on world history, the BBC and the British Museum have launched a large scale digital museum for the new landmark series on BBC Radio 4, ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects.’

The radio programme is a narrative of global history told through the British Museum’s unparalleled world collection and taps into the unique power of the stories behind objects; its legacy has been secured through a website commissioned by the BBC and created by GT.

The ‘A History of the World’ website compliments this new method of documenting world history by showcasing the British Museum objects featured in the radio series, presenting objects from over 350 local and regional museums and allowing website users the opportunity to upload objects that help tell a history of the world.

Designed as an immersive website with intuitive time-based navigation, ‘A History of the World’ uses explorative technologies like deep zoom to send users on a creative voyage through history. This journey, coupled with the ability to add artefacts and a continually changing ‘object of the day’ promotion (tied to the broadcasted content) not only help to maintain the users’ interest but encourages them to play and learn about world history.

Technically, the website was built using the BBC’s new Forge platform and incorporating many different BBC systems to enable the seamless integration of programme content with object information from both users and museums across the country.

Chris Loll, Managing Partner at GT, commented, “We are proud to support the BBC and the British Museum in this remarkable endeavour that will redefine how we all interact with our world history.”

More about ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’
The ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’ radio series is written and narrated by the British Museum Director, Neil MacGregor and produced by BBC Radio 4. The 15-minute programmes will be broadcast in the key timeslot of 9.45am from Monday to Friday (rpt at 7.45pm). Each programme will focus on one object from the Museum’s extensive collection and will include additional voices from a range of contributors including Bob Geldof, Wole Soyinka, Grayson Perry, Madhur Jaffrey and Seamus Heaney.

Each week of programmes will be tied to a particular theme, such as ‘after the ice age’ or ‘meeting the gods’. Objects have been selected to cover the broadest possible chronological and geographical period, and tell a history of the world from two million years ago to the present day. The 100 programmes will be broadcast in three tranches throughout 2010.

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, said: “This partnership between the BBC and the British Museum is the fulfilment of an Enlightenment dream. Parliament set up the British Museum to allow all ‘studious and curious persons’ both ‘native and foreign born’ to construct their own history of the world and to find their place in it. Thanks to the incomparable reach of the BBC – radio, television, World Service and web – as the series develops, everybody across the UK and across the world will be able to participate, using not just the things in the museums, but their own objects as well, to tell their history of the world.”

Mark Damazer, Controller of Radio 4, said: “The partnership with the British Museum has brought to Radio 4 the most exciting history project in my five years as Radio 4 Controller. The idea of ‘A History of the World’ told through objects is audacious and it has been endlessly stimulating to see two creative organisations – animated by public service – coming together to produce what I believe will be thrilling programmes – not only on Radio 4, but now across the BBC.”

The BBC is encouraging listener engagement and participation and has built partnerships with 350 museums across the country. They will be producing a 13-part television series on BBC Children’s (CBBC) and coverage on all the BBC’s Local and National (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) services. Learning initiatives are being developed through BBC Schools and the British Museum including teacher’s packs and museum trails.

For further information contact:
Allie Ello on (0)20 7343 3700 or at  

About GT
GT, a VML Company, is a digital creative agency. Since 1994 we’ve been creating things that people value and experiences that are relevant. These experiences may be beautiful, unnerving, intriguing or just plain useful, but above all they are human. Our clients are some of the most recognised brands in the world. From Xbox and the BBC to BACARDI and HMV.
We have 70 of the most talented people from around the world. Each dedicated to developing an ever more diverse creative environment for the brands we work with and the world we live in.

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