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Richard Westmacott’s Pediment Sculptures for the British Museum

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Sir Richard Westmacott (1775-1856) was the leading British sculptor of his day. Already involved with questions of display of works in the British Museum's collection, Westmacott was tasked with the design for sculptures to sit in the pediment on the imposing façade of the institution. Surmounting the main entrance, Westmacott's sculptures dedicate the museum to culture and civilisation.

British Museum Director, Hartwig Fischer, delves into the story and inspiration behind these fascinating sculptures, 'The Progress of Civilisation', and uncovers their layered narratives as a gateway to the museum. Filmed in glorious detail via drone, HENI Talks was privileged enough to film the sculptures up close.


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Hartwig Fischer took up the post of Director of the British Museum in Spring 2016. He gained his PhD in Art History at the University of Bonn in 1993 after studying in Berlin, Rome and Paris. He began his career in museums as a Research Assistant and then Curator of 19^th^ Century and Modern Art at the Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland before becoming Director of the Folkwang Museum, Essen in 2006. During his time as Director of the Folkwang Museum, he oversaw a major building project with the acclaimed architect David Chipperfield, as well as several blockbuster exhibitions and many key acquisitions.

In 2012 Hartwig Fischer was appointed Director General of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden (State Art Collections, Dresden), with responsibility for 14 museums and associated libraries, archives and research centres. As Director General of one of the foremost museums of the world, he led on the development of significant international exhibitions and research projects across the world as well as in Germany; he has also overseen several major building projects and renovations to the State Art Collection's estate in Dresden.

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