British Museum blog

Dismantling the crown

Sarah Price and Xavier Duffy, Museum Assistants

Early in January we travelled to Bonn, the venue of the previous Afghanistan exhibition to assist with the de-installation and transport of the objects to London. In the British Museum we will be responsible for installing Afghanistan: Crossroads of the Ancient World and it has been months in the planning. Our trip to Bonn was the first time we would actually see the objects rather than in the photographs we’d been carefully studying. It was also our first opportunity to meet the eight Afghan couriers who accompany the exhibition and who we will be working with closely in London.

It was then with a sense of anticipation and nervous excitement that we arrived at the museum to start work. We were able to look around the exhibition before de-installation began and this was a valuable chance to see what the objects are actually like and how they can be displayed.

One object that surprised us was the gold crown from Tillya Tepe that features on the British Museum exhibition poster. It is a most beautiful, delicate piece and had been cleverly displayed in Bonn. We were puzzled by how this object might be packed for transport given its fragile nature. The answer came when the conservator started dismantling it.

The crown’s shape is given by the mount it sits on during display. The top five sections come loose and are detached from the headband which itself then lies flat. Each piece had a series of loops on the back which thread onto corresponding spikes on the mount. These six sections are held in place with pins in travel boxes to stop them from moving during their journey to London.

Once all the objects had been safely packed into their crates it was time to transport the cargo to London with us and the Afghan delegation always close at hand. After a long day travelling across Europe the crates would still have to be unloaded at the British Museum. However, the Heavy Object Handling team and members of the Middle East department were thankfully on hand to assist with this final part of the process. The crates were placed in a secure storage area where they will remain until the (much anticipated) time comes to open them up and remove the objects for display in London.

Meeting the Afghan couriers was a great pleasure and assisting them with the de-installation of the exhibition in Bonn will certainly ensure the smooth running of the installation at the British Museum.

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Filed under: Afghanistan: Crossroads of the Ancient World, Exhibitions, , , ,

6 Responses - Comments are closed.

  1. Suck a lovely crown and such an interesting story. I would love to see it IRL. Many of the older crowns are made just like this, in sections, that are “easy to go” as we would say to day. Thank you!


  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by British Museum, Miller's and Steven Moore, soxyfleming. soxyfleming said: de-installation?? is that really a word? RT @britishmuseum #AfghanistanBM …. how the gold crown was transported: […]


  3. J says:

    Hi! I was wondering if you had the measurements for the gold crown. I’m doing a project on this, because my class is going to London (I’M SOOOO EXCITED)and we all have to make models of something in a museum and I chose the crown! Thanks so much!!


    • @ J
      The band which would run around the head is 45 centimetres (cm) in length. The ‘trees’, which sit on top of the band, vary slightly in size, but are approximately 13cm tall and 8cm wide.
      Good luck with the model.
      David Prudames, British Museum


  4. Dawn Clarke says:

    I am looking forward to this show, as I am guessing many of it’s contents will surpass expectations. It would not surprise me if there are many items which differ to our accepted conceptions of an item, like the crown. From the description given it seems more like a garment than a conventional crown. I look forward to other surprises.


  5. gold prices says:

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