Review: British Museum ‘Living with Gods’

On Saturday 6th January a group of us met at the British Museum to visit the acclaimed ‘Living with Gods’ exhibition.

The exhibition was split into themed areas – the elements, rituals, death, prayer, etc. This led to an interesting mixture of religions nestling next to each other and it was clear to see common threads between different belief systems. In another sense this also made it hard to see a clear line through the historic record. The hall was shrouded in semi-transparent cloths, which gave a different, numinous feeling compared to normal exhibition spaces.

There were many interesting and fascinating objects and images on display, however some of us thought that the exhibition didn’t quite match up to the sum of its parts. Perhaps because it gave the impression that religion, because it seems to be a natural phenomenon in human societies, was (and will be) inevitable and this maybe could have been questioned or explored more. The number and diversity of objects, while wonderful to look at, also perhaps made it hard to get hold of a general message from the exhibition as a whole. However there was certainly enough of interest and beauty to make the visit very worthwhile.

After working our way through the exhibition at our different paces, we all slowly gathered on one of the tables in the Great Court and talked through our impressions while sipping hot drinks.