News

One of the most important relics of indigenous Viking culture will leave Scotland for the first time in its 1,100 year history to go on display at the British Museum this week.

Kingdom of Ife, British Museum, London

Sculpture compelling and masterly, but not Africa's answer to Donatello

Kingdom of Ife: Sculptures from West Africa, British Museum, London

There are so many Africas, and so many arts of Africa. Picasso and Matisse thought they had hit on the essence of Africa during the first decade of the 20th century. The African masks and sculpture that influenced such works as Les Demoiselles D'Avignon (1909) seemed to be the very embodiment of a youngish Spaniard's priapic idea of the primitive: wonderfully, savagely stylised; bursting with a toe-curlingly alien erotic charge. How patronising of Picasso to think that that's what African art amounted to. Well, perhaps that's a little unfair. The point was that Picasso, ever grasping, ever restless, was seeking out new ways of representing the female body.

Tracing King Tut's family tree in London

Tutankhamun has always captured popular imagination, and been a major draw for museums.

Britain's oldest shipwreck discovered off Devonshire coast

A 3,000 year old Bronze Age trading vessel – the oldest shipwreck ever found in British waters – has been located off the coast of Devon in South West England.

Tehran cuts ties with British Museum over Persian treasure

Iran has cut all its ties with the British Museum over its decision to delay the loan of a 2,500-year-old Persian treasure, the Cyrus Cylinder, in the latest sign of worsening relations between Tehran and London.

A History of the World in 100 Objects, Radio 4

Amazing what you can learn from an old tool

Qing Dynasty: Art of stone

An exhibition of naturally sculpted rocks from China's Qing Dynasty makes for the most mysterious show in Britain, says Tom Lubbock

Museums hit by 'perfect financial storm'

Nearly 40 institutions are under threat or have already closed as lottery funding bonanza ends and credit crunch bites

The art of diary writing

January signals not only the arrival of a new year – for many, it will also open another chapter of obsessive diary-writing. What drives these solitary scribblers? Tim Walker delves into their secret world

Observations: Jarndyce's new catalogue aims to broaden the appeal of antiquarian book-buying

The antiquarian market seems like a secret society, closed to anyone who isn't in the know and in possession of a limitless budget. The bookshop Jarndyce, opposite the British Museum, almost confirms this stereotype. For starters, you have to ring a bell to gain entry. Yet the shop is bustling on a weekday morning.

Ikuo Hirayama

Your brief obituary of Ikuo Hirayama (12 December) made no mention of his philanthropic role in the UK, writes Andrew Oddy, retired Keeper of Conservation, British Museum.

Travel Agenda: Winter Wonderland; The British Museum; Four Seasons in Beirut

Today...

The festive season gets underway in Gloucester with the Winter Wonderland. Expect fir trees, an ice cave, Santa's grotto, market stalls, a Spiegeltent with live music – even snow ( christmasingloucester.co.uk).

Staffordshire Hoard valued at £3.28 million

The Staffordshire Hoard, a vast haul of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver discovered by an amateur treasure hunter in July, has been valued at £3.28 million by the British Museum.

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