Who were the Scythians? Well, that’s a very good question. To answer it, the British Museum has teamed up with MUSO by Impropera to celebrate all things Scythian in a special event that breathes life into the ancient cultures of the Siberian steppe. Become a nomad yourself throughout the evening as you gallop across the Great Court and galleries to enjoy music, talks, performances and drop-in craft activities.
The evening includes a very special improvised opera performance, created on the spot from the audience’s response to the Scythians at 19.30, as well as gold embroidery and felt pouch making workshops, Russian and Siberian music, cheese tastings, pop-up talks, and Siberian-themed food and drink available to buy from the bar.
Please note: filming and photography will take place at this event.
Who were the Scythians?!
Room 1, 18.10,18.40 & 19.55, limited seating
2,500 years ago groups of formidable warriors roamed the vast open plains of Siberia. Feared, loathed, admired – but over time forgotten… Until now, as Exhibition Project Curator Chloe Leighton explains at these drop-in 15-minute expert talks.
MUSO presents: The Unsung Scythians
BP Lecture Theatre, 19.00–19.50
Don’t miss the virtuoso musical improvisors of Impropera as they imagine the first opera all about the Scythians. MUSO is presented with the help of exhibition Curator St John Simpson and in collaboration with UCL Culture. Be prepared to be uplifted, enlightened and inspired, as MUSO sing the Scythians to life!
Free tickets are available to book online: ow.ly/NjXH30fgRuI
The Unsung Scythians: grand finale
Great Court, 20.05–20.35
Come to the Great Court as the world premiere of our improvised Scythian opera reaches its climax. It’s such an immersive experience, you’ll swear you are actually taking part – and you’d be right! No singing ability required – in fact it is a positive disadvantage.
Steppe it up with Polina Skovoroda-Shepherd Room 17, 18.00–18.30 & 18.50–19.20
Internationally renowned Siberian performer Polina Skovoroda-Shepherd takes you on a journey across the steppes, exploring Russian song and folklore. Immerse yourself in an explosive mixture of powerful dance rhythms and profound melodies of the steppes in these pop-up performances.
Make a Scythian felt pouch
Room 17, 18.00–20.20
Felt was crucial to the Scythians’ nomadic lifestyle. They used it to build and furnish the tents which they made their homes, they adorned their horses in elaborate felt trappings, and fashioned pouches to transport precious objects from place to place.
In this fun and creative workshop, make an applique felt pouch to take on your own travels.
Saddle up: goldwork embroidery workshop
Great Court (south-east), 18.00–21.00
Trot along and try your hand at the art of goldwork embroidery, taking inspiration from the sparkling adornments and swirling motifs of objects in the exhibition. Add your contribution to a Scythian-inspired horse sculpture created by embroidery artist Hanny Newton. Learn a range of techniques, from traditional gold thread couching to beads and sequins, and even gold illustrations. Horse sculpture made in collaboration with artist Beatrix Baker. Materials provided by Benton and Johnson.
Great Court, 18.00–21.00
Did you know that the Scythians were one of the earliest cultures to develop cheesemaking? In fact ancient pieces of Scythian cheese can be found in the exhibition, having been preserved by being buried deep in the Siberian permafrost! Join experts to find out more about the Scythians’ love of cheese and try some (less ancient) samples.
Russian Film Week 2017 trailers
Great Court, 18.00–21.00
Russian Film Week includes world premieres and screenings of contemporary Russian films in cinema theatres in London and other UK cities bringing the best of Russian culture. Watch trailers of this year’s highlights in the Great Court, in advance of the festival on 19–26 November.
More information at russianfilmweek.org
Food and drink
A selection of Siberian-inspired food and drink will be available to buy throughout the evening, at pop-up bars in the Great Court.
The BP exhibition
Scythians: warriors of ancient Siberia
Until 14 January 2018, Room 30
This major exhibition explores the story of the Scythians – nomadic tribes and masters of mounted warfare, who flourished between 900 and 200 BC. Their encounters with the Greeks, Assyrians and Persians were written into history but for centuries all trace of their culture was lost – buried beneath the ice. In this exhibition, explore their lost world and discover the splendour, the sophistication and the sheer power of the mysterious Scythians. ow.ly/OCF930fbCum
£16.50, Student ticket £13
Student offer: 2-for-1 tickets on weekdays after 12.00 (phone booking and walk-up only)
Supported by BP.
Organised with the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia.