Sicily Exhibition at The British Museum of London

When I was a little girl I was obsessed with ancient history and being lucky enough to live in London every school holiday I would beg my parents to take me to the British Museum.

The British Museum is a museum dedicated to human history, art, and culture, located in the Bloomsbury area of London.

I particularly loved Greek history and Greek mythology and loved searching all the rooms in the museum. At school, history was my favourite subject and I enjoyed learning about the Norman invasion of England and the crusades to the holy land.

I think my love of history is what made me fall in love with Sicily and thereafter buying a home there.  That and the beauty of the island, its people, food, wine, culture and of course the abundance of Sicilian sunshine.

Sicily is where Europe ends and Africa begins. It began its history as part of Ancient Greece and soon became part of the Roman Empire. Thereafter the island was invaded by the Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, French, Spanish and Bourbons before unifying with Italy. Each conquest left its mark on the island.

You can imagine how excited I was when the British Museum announced their Sicily Exhibition: Culture and Conquest, earlier this year.

Starting on the 21st April until 14th August 2016, the exhibition highlights the arrival of the Greeks in Sicily and Norman rule in the 11th to 13th centuries.

Sicily in the ancient world was admired and envied for its wealth, culture and stunning architecture. In the exhibition there will be ancient Greek sculptures, architectural decorations from temples, churches and palaces, early coinage, stunning jewellery and Norman mosaics and textiles.

The first Greek colony in Sicily was founded at Giardini Naxos (my home town) in 734BC. In 733BC Syracuse in South Eastern Sicily was founded, it quickly attained wealth and power, commissioned important buildings and works of art. Before long it became the most strongest and powerful city in the Mediterranean. There is an extensive archaeological site there which is well worth a visit. Here you will see a Greek theatre, the Altar of Hieron II, the mythical Ear of Dionysius and the so called Tomb of Archimedes.
Ear of Dionysius

There are many Greek monuments, temples and archaeological sites throughout Sicily one of the most beautiful places being The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento which is home to ruined Greek temples that stand against a backdrop of the Mediterranean. They are as awe inspiring today as they were over 2500 years ago.

In 1066AD the Normans were busy invading England but what is not so well known is that they were also doing the same thing in sunny Sicily. This was accomplished through a long and bloody warfare and the reign of Norman King Roger was a long succession of battles. By 1079 he had conquered the whole island and by his death in 1101 he was awarded with the title the Great Count of Sicily. After his death his son succeeded the throne as King Roger II.

The Norman Kingdom only lasted for 100 years but it left its mark on the island and the monuments that remain are among some of the most beautiful in the world. At the end of their reign the Normans left the island endowed with splendid buildings and an exotic culture. Across Sicily you will find many buildings that are of Arabic Norman construction.

Norman/Arabic Architecture in Palermo
The best place to see examples is in the islands capital Palermo where you can visit monuments such as Cappella Palatina, a royal chapel in the Palazzo dei Normanni with beautiful mosaics and Arabic ceiling and just above Palermo on a hilltop the Cathedral of Monreale where the Norman King William II built a mosaic encrusted monastery and cathedral that proved to be the last and most splendid of the Norman’s monuments in Sicily.

If all this has whetted your appetite visit the Sicily Exhibition at the British Musuem. There are lots of activities to coincide with the exhibition including lectures, gallery talks, films and special events.

After you have visited I hope it will inspire you to visit our beautiful island of Sicily. Search my blog archive for inspiration and recommendations.

I have listed below some dates and times of whats on at the British Museum throughout the exhibition. Some events need to be pre-booked, I know which ones I have my eye on.

To book your tickets for the Sicily Exhibition and for more information visit

Keep posted for a special blog post about the exhibition after I visit when it opens.

Sicily Exhibition: Culture and Conquest, 21st April – 19th August 2016

Whats on; Lectures, Gallery Talks and Special Events

Sunday 16th April             10:30     £25         Study Day
Introduction to the Classic World

Thursday 28th April          13:30     Free       Lecture
Curator’s Introduction to Sicily: Culture and Conquest

Friday 29th April               18:30     £5           Lecture
John Julius Norwich on The Normans in Sicily

Friday 6th May                  18:30     £5           Lecture
Sicily: the land where lemons grow

Thursday 12th May           13:30     Free       Lecture
Athens Sicilian Adventure

Friday 20th May                18:00     Free       Performance
Music of Sicily

Saturday 21st May            14:00     £3           Film
The Leopard:
A story of class and the struggle for independence, The Leopard is a masterpiece of cinema set in Sicily during Garibaldi's unification campaign. Prince Fabrizio (Burt Lancaster) faces the erosion of his status and power as the lower classes rise to power and Garibaldi's forces land on Sicily.

Thursday 26th May           13:30     Free       Lecture
Curator’s Introduction to Sicily: Culture and Conquest

Friday 27th May                13:15     Free       Gallery Talk
The Greeks in Southern Italy and Sicily

Friday 27th May                18:15     £3           Film
Cinema Paradiso:
A famous film director returns to his Sicilian village after 30 years and remembers his childhood at the Cinema Paradiso where Alfredo, the projectionist, first brought about his love of films.
He is also reminded of his first love, Elena, who disappeared from his life before he left for Rome.

Friday 3rd June                 13:15     Free       Gallery Talk
Multicultural Sicily

Saturday 4th June             13:15     Free       Gallery Talk
The Greeks in Sicily

Saturday 4th June             15:00     £3.00     Film
A Bigger Splash:
Rock legend Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) is recuperating on the volcanic island of Pantelleria with her partner Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) when iconoclast record producer and old flame Harry (Ralph Fiennes) unexpectedly arrives with his daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson), interrupting their holiday

Friday 10th June               10:30     Free       Workshop for Under 5 years old
Little Feet: Explore Sicily

Saturday 11th June           13:30     Free       Lecture
Curator’s Introduction to Sicily: Culture and Conquest

Tuesday 14th June            13:15     Free       Gallery Talk
Sicilian Coins and their stories

Thursday 16th June          13:30     Free       Lecture
Multiculturism in Norman and Hohenstaufer Sicily

Friday 24th June               18:30     Free       Lecture
Sicily a force to be reckoned with in the ancient world

Monday 27th June            13:30     Free       Lecture
An archaeological detective story in early Byzantine Sicily

Tuesday 5th July               11:30     Free       Workshop for Under 5 years old
Little Feet: discover Sunny Sicily

Friday 8th July                  13:30     Free       Lecture
Storms, War and Shipwrecks: treasures from the Sicilian Seas

Thursday 14th July           13:30     Free       Lecture
Sicily under Muslim rule

Friday 15th July                13:30     Free       Lecture
Curator’s Introduction to Sicily: Culture and Conquest

Friday 22nd July               18:00     Free       Event
Sicilian Splendor:
A multisensory evening celebrating the soul of Sicily, past and present, including music, drama workshops and poetry, with Sicilian food and drink for sale and wine tasting.

Now enjoy my Photo Gallery


Archaeological Park, Syracuse

Greek Theatre of Taormina with Giardini Naxos in the background

Norman Bridge at Adrano

The medieval Duomo of Taormina

Temple of Concord, Agrigento

Temple of Juno, Agrigento

Greek Theatre of Taormina and Giardini Naxos, the first Greek colony

Arabic/Norman architecture in Taormina

with Daisy at the Temple of Apollo in Syracuse

The British Museum of London

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