Hew Locke: what have we here?

17 October 2024 – 9 February 2025
Daily: 10.00–17.00 (Fridays 20.30)

Join renowned Guyanese-British artist Hew Locke as he turns his lens on the British Museum collection in a collaborative exhibition exploring histories of British imperial power.

In this groundbreaking new show, Locke (born 1959) explores, questions and challenges narratives of British imperialism through objects from the British Museum collection, alongside specially commissioned new works. Offering a fresh perspective on the British Museum’s history and collection, which are closely tied to those of the British Empire, Locke explores the messy and complex ways museums are implicated in these histories.

Locke, who was born in Edinburgh and spent his formative years in Georgetown, Guyana, focuses on Britain’s historical interactions with Africa, India and the Caribbean, all of which had a significant impact on the history of Guyana – informing a very personal exploration of the objects on display. Using interventionist techniques, he reframes historical objects, from the earliest surviving drawings of Indigenous Americans by a European artist to a Guyanese Akawaio feather headdress.

The Watchers, newly commissioned sculptural works by Locke, form a central part of the exhibition, with figures observing visitors from vantage points around the exhibition, and spilling out into the Museum’s Enlightenment Gallery (Room 1).

This bold and exciting co-curated exhibition provides an opportunity to open up ongoing discussions around questions of history, ownership and identity.

Hew Locke: what have we here? is an exhibition created by Hew Locke and the British Museum, with the assistance of Indra Khanna.

More information and booking here

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