A modern disposable cup next to an ancient pottery cup.

The Asahi Shimbun Displays

Disposable?
Rubbish and us

Exhibition / -

19 December 2019 – 23 February 2020

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Room 3

Free

Today there is increasing awareness of the devastating impact of plastic pollution, but humans have been creating rubbish for as long as we have been making objects.

This small display considers the historical creation of single-use and repurposed objects and presents an artistic response to plastic waste washing up in Pacific islands. The Asahi Shimbun Displays Disposable? Rubbish and us is an intriguing look at our changing relationship with the things we throw away, as we struggle to deal with today’s unprecedented levels of waste. Two very different disposable cups open the display. One is a waxed paper Air India cup, made in the 1990s, and the other was made around 3,500 years ago on the island of Crete by the Minoan people. These small clay cups were discarded in large numbers, probably after being used once to serve wine at feasts. Both cups speak of wealth and power, highlighting valuable resources and labour have been used throughout history to make objects that would only be used once. However, it must be recognised that the creation of Minoan clay cups was on an infinitely smaller scale.

A fishing basket made from plastic wrapping found washed up on a beach in Guam in the Pacific Ocean, by contemporary artist Anthony Guerrero, is another starkly poignant object. It reminds us that much of the plastic in the Pacific is generated by the international fishing, food transportation and construction industries – and that individual responses alone cannot alleviate the problem.

Museums too must play their part in reducing waste. The British Museum is striving to lessen its environmental impact, with all waste produced onsite being either recycled or burned and converted to electricity. We are also committed to more sustainable exhibition development, and over 90% of the materials used to build the display have been recycled from the Manga exhibition.

Supporter

Supported by

The Asahi Shimbum logo

These displays are made possible by the support of The Asahi Shimbun Company, longstanding corporate sponsors of the British Museum. The Asahi Shimbun is a Japanese leading newspaper and the company also provides a substantial information service via the internet. The company has a century-long tradition of philanthropic support, notably staging key exhibitions in Japan on art, culture and history from around the world. In addition to the Asahi Shimbun Displays, The Asahi Shimbun Company is a committed supporter of the British Museum touring exhibition programme in Japan, and funder of The Asahi Shimbun Gallery of Amaravati sculpture in Room 33a.
 
この展示シリーズは、大英博物館の長きにわたる法人スポンサーである朝日新聞社のご支援によって実現しています。朝日新聞は日本の主要な新聞で、朝日新聞社ではインターネットを通じた幅広い情報提供も行っています。同社には一世紀にわたる慈善活動支援の伝統があり、とりわけ世界の美術や文化および歴史についての主要な展覧会の日本国内開催で知られています。朝日新聞ディスプレーに加え、日本における大英博物館の巡回展、および大英博物館朝日新聞ギャラリーのアマラヴァティ仏教彫刻の展示にもご支援いただいています。

The Asahi Shimbun Dispays