Culture24/7: The best History and Heritage exhibitions in the UK for October 2013

By Ben Miller | 01 October 2013

The British Museum and the National Museum of Scotland have an eye on Japan this month, while a new Gallery of Korea springs up at the Oriental Museum. Here are our highlights in history...

See a life mask of Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson at the National Maritime Museum this month© National Maritime Museum, London
Black History Month, various venues

A pleasingly vast programme again from the celebration of black culture, predominantly based in London, Brighton, Leicester, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle. An ebullient reggae party on the south coast and a series of performances in the capital by Mobo Award-winner Soweto Kinch catch the eye (and ears), with family workshops, talks and more taking place throughout the month.

Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art, British Museum, London, from October 3

Exquisite and taboo, the lustful prints produced for 300 years in Japan have proved as influential in manga, anime and tattoo art spheres as they have for starcrossed lovers in elegant kimonos. Sometimes entertaining but always intimate, they were also admired by their makers’ contemporaries, including Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso.

Gallery of Korea, Oriental Museum, Durham, opens October 4

As part of the Cultural Olympiad which accompanied last year’s Olympics, curators in Durham have created a space dedicated solely to the arts and culture of Korea. They’ve done so with objects dating back more than 1,000 years, as well as musical instruments which visitors can listen to and play.

Kabuki: Japanese Theatre Prints, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, from October 4

A 19th century version of today’s billboard posters, woodblock prints were a cheap and colourful way for fans of the acrobatic all-male Kabuki troupe to collect vivid portraits of their daring heroes. National Museums Scotland holds an impressive collection of these tributes to dramatic agility.

Four Four Jew: Football, Fans and Faith, Jewish Museum, London, from October 10

The Prime Minister’s ill-advised opining on the use of the y-word at Spurs last month received criticism from David Baddiel, one of the advisors for this exhibition. Former FA Chairman David Bernstein, ex-Arsenal leader David Dein and tactical mastermind David Pleat have also helped devise a show pondering two cultures with equally compelling histories.

Beyond El Dorado: Power and Gold in Ancient Colombia, British Museum, London, from October 17

Pre-Hispanic gold arriving from the Museo del Oro in Bogotá, these ceramics, stone necklaces and shimmering treasures were drawn from a lake left by a lost city at the start of the 20th century. Its name – “the golden one” – refers to the excavation ritual.

Nelson, Navy, Nation, National Maritime Museum, London, from October 21

As star exhibits go, the uniform worn by Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar takes some out-wardrobing. Personal items from sailors at sea and a fearsome volley gun ride the waves all the way back to the late 17th century Glorious Revolution.

What are you looking forward to most? Leave a comment below.

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Nelson's Battle of Trafalgar uniform to star in Maritime Museum's Nelson, Navy, Nation

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