REVIEW: Troy: Myth and Reality, British Museum

The British Museum’s epically sized exhibition is as exhausting as it is exhilarating.

This epic new exhibition at the British Museum is richly detailed and vibrantly brings to life the extraordinary story of Troy both from a mythological perspective while examining whether the city really existed.

Starting with the mythological side of the exhibition, visitors are taken on a huge journey that takes them through exactly what started the Trojan war and how it came to an end – focusing on the stories of epic warrior Achilles and of course the infamous wooden horse trick that helped to lead to the downfall of the city. In the second half, as richly detailed but perhaps slightly less exciting, the British Museum examines the argument as to whether Troy did or did not exist through the finds of archeologists thousands of years later.

Filled with dazzling pottery, sculptures and paintings there is much to be admired in the way in which the British Museum have chosen to explore this ancient world that has continued to fascinate and inspire artists over the years. Each object that has been selected for display offers a new perspective of the story that adds depth and understanding visitors own knowledge- for example to Paris kidnap Helen or did she go willingly? It is wonderful to hear and experience the stories of Achilles, Odysseus and the eventual fall of Troy in this way that feels suitably dramatic.

This being said, if you aren’t familiar with the famous stories behind Troy, you might want to do a little research into it because there are many names and different stories that are focused on throughout that might be slightly overwhelming if you don’t. However, it should also be noted that this exhibition does try and keep information as accessible and clear as possible and you should at least come prepared to read a lot of information. In particularly, given the amount of pottery on display – featuring images that contain a story a lot of time and effort has gone into ensuring that visitors fully understand what they are looking at.

Perhaps the slightly weaker element of the exhibition is the more focus on the contemporary art that was inspired by the story of Troy. It feels as though it rips the visitor out of the carefully and effectively constructed mythical world that the curators successfully created in earlier sections. This is not to say that the paintings in this section are not wonderful to look at but it feels as though they should belong to another style of exhibition looking at the world of Troy.

However, this is still an exhilarating exhibition to visit and deserves more than one visit per person – if only so that you can be transported to this epic world again. Highly detailed, powerful, dramatic – it is an exhibition that completely dazzles from start to finish.

By Emma Clarendon

Troy: Myth and Reality is on display at the British Museum until the 8th March.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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