LOST GOLD OF THE NatGeo EXHIBIT
We just got back from a multi-era trip to the East Coast, including the National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC. The exhibit has a hundred pieces of the Staffordshire Hoard, along with videos and modern reproductions provided by Regia in the UK. It will be there until March.
The Staffordshire Hoard is a collection of gold and silver pieces from the seventh or eighth century that is redefining our idea of the so-called “Dark Ages.” It was discovered in 2009 by a metal detectorist working with the owner’s permission in a field near the village of Hammerwich, near Lichfield, in Staffordshire, England. The Hoard, consisting of some 3,500 items, has been valued at over five million dollars, which will be shared between the finder and the owner of the land. It is not only an example of finding a picture window into the past but of everyone concerned doing the Right Thing! Authorities and archaeologists were alerted by the founders, and a subterfuge was used to keep the discovery secret and safe until authorities had a hand on it. There are many sites available that speak more about the discovery, including this site.
The Lost Gold of the Saxons display was incredible and highly recommended. The artifacts are overwhelming, and after a while you just concentrate on the videos, taken from the two documentaries put out by NatGeo and including a sequence on how the inlying, etc. was done (that may be on the second doc, which I haven’t seen). The things sent by Regia in the UK were wonderful and well arranged. it was fun guessing who sent what (and who various persons in the videos were, since the nasal helms were very confusing. They did a marvelous display where a rebated sword was in a cage, so kids could pick it up and feel how heavy it was but couldn’t swing it around!
The NatGeo folk apparently drastically underestimated the appeal of the exhibit. They had no exhibition catalog, had sold out of the DVD of the first program two weeks ago and didn’t expect new copies for another week or two, had only one facsimile of jewelry for sale, no CDs of music (archaeological or otherwise) except for a DVD of Beowulf recited to lyre music) and only two books on Anglo-Saxon life in the bookstore. They did have an umbrella with a sword hilt handle 🙂 They still have until March to put in new stuff, so I will be watching it!
The first documentary on the Hoard is available on DVD; a DVD of the second documentary will, I was told, be available in two months (apparently, they were overwhelmed by requests and questions and are rushing it into production).
The food in the cafe was good as well 🙂