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Medal - The British Museum

The British Museum

  • Object:

    Medal

  • Place of origin:

    London (designed)
    Birmingham (struck)

  • Date:

    2011 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Powell, Felicity (designer)
    Fattorini, Thomas Ltd (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silvered and enamelled bronze, struck

  • Credit Line:

    Given by The British Museum

  • Museum number:

    A.6-2011

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This silvered and enamelled bronze medal was struck to commemorate the British Museum. It was commissioned by the British Museum to Felicity Powell and was struck by Thomas Fattorini Ltd. in Britain in 2011.
The ten animals depicted on the reverse represent the ten departments of the British Museum.

Physical description

Silvered and enamelled circular bronze medal.

Place of Origin

London (designed)
Birmingham (struck)

Date

2011 (made)

Artist/maker

Powell, Felicity (designer)
Fattorini, Thomas Ltd (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Silvered and enamelled bronze, struck

Marks and inscriptions

'This medal has been struck in celebration of the British Museum, founded in 1753 as a museum of the world for the world. The medal, created by Felicity Powell, acknowledges the Museum's past, present and future. Its complex symbolism conveys the universal scope of the Museum's activities, the many cultures represented within its collections, and the understanding to which the Museum is dedicated.'
Text enclosed in the medal's box

Dimensions

Diameter: 75 mm

Object history note

This medal was commissioned by the British Museum to Felicity Powell, to offer as a present to 'distinguished visitors'. This particular specimen was presented by the British Museum to the V&A.

Both sides contain elements of the museum’s past, present and future.

The obverse shows a pair of open hands in the centre of the Great Court’s ceiling that covers the original library’s Reading room. The hands’ gesture symbolises both openness and accessibility. Cupped in the form of an open book, the hands also represent having knowledge at one’s fingertips. The surroundings of the Great Court’s glass roof evoke light and enlightenment. This architectural feature, both iconic and contemporary, expresses a sense of expansiveness, stretching across the museum and connecting its ten departments.
The outer blue ring bears the text ‘The British Museum 1753 A World of Understanding’ referring to the Museum’s mission. The blue and white enamel colours on silver are a nod to the sky that can be seen through the domed roof.

The international remit of the British Museum's collection is symbolised by the central motif of a head bearing a globe the reverse.
Radiating around the field are ten animals, each symbolising one of the British Museum’s ten departments, namely Coins and Medals (an owl), Conservation and Scientific Research (a snake), Portable Antiquities and Treasure (a mole), Ancient Egypt and Sudan (a sphinx), Prints and Drawings (a rhinoceros), Prehistory and Europe (a deer), Asia (a monkey), Africa, Oceania and the Americas (a leopard), Middle East (a lion) and Greece and Rome (a horse).
The fine draughtsmanship, symbolism and clarity of the design (which notably recalls one of the finest designs for a Napoleonic medal, Napoleon on Elba, by Louis Lafitte) exemplify Powell’s learned medallic practice.

Descriptive line

Medal, bronze, silvered and enamelled, commemorating the British Museum, by artist Felicity Powell, Britain, 2011

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

'News', in: The Medal, no. 59, Autumn 2011, p. 66

Materials

Bronze

Techniques

Struck; Silvered; Enamelled

Categories

Coins & Medals

Production Type

Limited edition

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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