UK: British exhibition goes back 11,000 years to highlight LGBT history

LONDON, June 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - With a bust of Roman Emperor Hadrian's lover to a silver cup depicting men having sex, a new exhibition of artworks dating back 11,000 years could shine a fresh light on LGBT history, Britain's most visited museum said on Tuesday.

From September, the British Museum's exhibition "Desire, Love Identity: Exploring LGBTQ Histories" will travel around the country with various artworks including a pebble featuring the world's earliest known depiction of a couple having sex.

"Ain Sakhri Lovers", a carved pebble thought to be 11,000 years old, shows two figures of uncertain gender making love, face to face, the museum said in a statement.

Discovered in a cave in the Judean Desert in Israel, it may have been used by the hunter-gatherers Natufians for fertility rituals.

"We're hoping that it will be a catalyst that will drive new research into museum's collections and stimulate further LGBTQ exhibitions and programming," British Museum spokesman Stuart Frost told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Other highlights include the Warren cup, a 1st Century AD silver cup featuring scenes of men making love that was named after the 19th gay Bostonian art collector Ned Warren, who considered the object the "holy grail" of gay history as it showed the acceptance of homosexuality long ago.

In 1999, the British Museum bought the cup for 1.8 million pounds ($2.4 million), then the most expensive object the museum had ever purchased. Read more via Thomson Reuters Foundation

Desire, love, identity exploring LGBTQ histories

This 2017 display offered glimpses into LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer) histories, experiences and lives by examining objects from around the world, covering ancient civilisations right up to today. The display was programmed to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of the Sexual Offences Act, a law that partially decriminalised homosexuality in England and Wales.

A trail featuring objects in the permanent galleries that relate to LGBTQ histories has been updated and revised. You can download audio content and a map to help you find the objects in the Museum.

We have developed a touring version of Desire, love, identity: exploring LGBTQ histories. This exhibition will visit four venues: the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (25 September – 2 December 2018); the National Justice Museum, Nottingham (14 December 2018 – 3 March 2019); Bolton Library & Museum Service (14 March – 26 May 2019); and lastly, the Norwich Millennium Library (8 June – 31 August 2019) See more at the British Museum