You have one of the largest collections of prints in the world and a relatively small gallery space at your disposal. What do you do? The British Museum, rather than just try to show a few gems, separates the long gallery space into different zones in which it sets up a changing programme of exhibitions to draw in different audiences. Here there are currently three exhibitions, of which two are of the most interest, the first celebrating the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death and, like the Munch exhibition, highlighting his creative exploration of different series of prints based on the same image, many of which are well-known works, leaping 300 years into the future, postcards by artists including Bruce Nauman, Joseph Lammirato, Joseph Beuys, Yoko Ono & John Lennon, Gilbert & George and Michael Langenstein, often with a political edge of the time….
Beyond this is a third exhibition linked to the journeys of Captain Cook, 250 years ago, with the work of contemporary Pacific artists, on show alongside items brought back to England from those exploration voyages – amazing at the time.
The oddity in this arrangement are the Japanese galleries at the end of the Print Gallery, which are fascinating but out of context. It would be good to find somewhere else to locate the Japanese Galleries to give them more space and thus perhaps focus this space on Japanese prints, of which the BM has a substantial collection, and give more logic to the sequence of spaces.