British Museum: Shakespeare: Staging the World

British Museum’s ongoing collaboration with Sysco enables the telling of another spectacular story within the exhibition space of the museum’s Reading Room. Shakespeare Staging the World paints the picture of London as a world city, and the theatre as a window to the world, through the medium of Shakespeare’s plays.

Object by fascinating object, this unmissable exhibition brings the worldview of Elizabethan and Jacobean Londoners - and by extension their most famous entertainer - to life.


The Reading Room was built in 1854-7 in the centre of the British Museum’s Great Court. Inspired by the domed Pantheon in Rome, it swiftly became one of the foremost sights of London and a world famous centre of learning.

After its restoration in 2000, the room was opened to all museum visitors for the first time, and incorporated a modern information centre, a collection of 25,000 books and catalogues relating to the museum’s collections, and a major temporary exhibition space housing such iconic exhibitions as The First Emperor: China’s Terracotta Army, and Journey Through the Afterlife: Ancient Egypt’s Book of the Dead.

Sysco has collaborated with the British Museum on all of the temporary exhibitions in this important gallery, and so were ideally placed to use their valuable understanding of the space, and insight into the installed componentry, to advise on the technical capabilities for the exhibition.

The result is a fascinating new insight into the impact on Londoners of the playhouse and the Shakespeare works performed there, focusing on how theatre helped to shape a new feeling of national identity by provoking theatre-goers into thinking about and reacting to modern-day issues and influences from across world.

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