Museums, exhibitions, and events in December 2021

There is a great selection of new exhibitions and events taking place at museums and heritage sites around the UK in the coming months, whether you’re interested in how the Romans exercised or the history of Rapa Nui. There are also plenty of ways to enjoy history, archaeology, and heritage at home as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder. Here, Amy Brunskill has put together some of the highlights on offer.


Ancient Greeks: Science and Wisdom

Until 5 June 2022
Science Museum, London

The Science Museum’s new exhibition explores how the ancient Greeks questioned and sought to understand the natural world in a logical and mathematical way, presenting statues, musical instruments, scientific objects, and artworks that reflect their pursuit of knowledge and their curiosity about the world around them. The exhibition is free, but tickets are required.

Image: © Benaki Museum, Athens.


Christmas Adventure Quest

Until 2 January 2022
Multiple English Heritage properties

Family-friendly Christmas adventure quests are now on offer at a selection of English Heritage sites, including Beeston Castle, Stonehenge, 1066 Battle Abbey, and many more. Clues along the trails will uncover stories and secrets about these historic places. Admission to the event is included in the standard ticket price, but times and dates vary: please check the webpages for each site for more details.


Romans: Edge of Empire

Until 6 February 2022
Perth Museum and Art Gallery


This exhibition at Perth Museum and Art Gallery explores what life was like for the Roman and Celtic-speaking people living in Iron Age Scotland. Although the area was never fully conquered by the Romans, their presence would have been felt by the Celtic tribes living in Perthshire through both global and local interactions. Admission to both the museum and the exhibition is free.


The Roman Gym

The Roman Baths, Bath


A newly revealed section of the Roman Baths in Bath has now opened to visitors. The Roman Gym area includes an exercise courtyard and a laconium (a sauna or steam room), brought to life by projections showing the workout routines, games, and sports that would have taken place here, and full of information about how the Romans kept fit and healthy. Entry to the Roman Gym area is included in general admission to the Roman Baths, but tickets must be booked in advance; please check the website for pricing details.


Rapa Nui’s (Easter Island) archaeology and heritage: changing narratives and current issues

9 December 2021
Burlington House


Professor Sue Hamilton will present the fieldwork of the Rapa Nui Landscapes of Construction Project in this lecture for the Society of Antiquaries of London, which will explore the social, ideological, and ecological interfaces of Rapa Nui’s prehistoric past and its relationship to the island’s living but eroding heritage. The event will take place both in person and online, and it is open to both Fellows and non-Fellows; registration is essential for non-Fellows.


Virtual visits

• Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East, USA
Explore HMANE, formerly known as the Harvard Semitic Museum, and find out more about the wide variety of diverse peoples living in the eastern Mediterranean region, parts of modern-day Iraq, and north Africa.

• The Hunterian, Scotland
Discover an array of virtual exhibitions from the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow, covering topics such as travel in 18th- and 19th-century Scotland, and robes and dragon symbolism in China.

• Great Wall of China
Take a virtual walk along the Great Wall of China with this new online experience from Google Arts & Culture, which includes 360° views and stories about the architecture of the landmark, as well as hundreds of images.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, © CEphoto, Uwe Aranas.

• Abu Simbel, Egypt
Take a virtual tour of the rock-cut temples at Abu Simbel, built for Pharaoh Ramesses II and his wife Nefertari in 19th Dynasty, with this interactive 3D model.

Learning in Lockdown

• Archives Alive
Find an array of online interactive educational resources for all ages from Newcastle University Library, with activities covering local history, landmarks, and objects in the Library’s collections.

• A Bit Lit
Discover what a trip to the theatre would have been like in the 1600s with ‘A Day Out in Shakespeare’s Theatre’, an interactive online event on 15 January 2022 that marks the launch of a new digital learning platform.

Photo: David Surman.

• Afro Historyscape
Enjoy a fresh perspective on African history with this podcast series that tells the story of Africa through objects from the Horniman Museum and Gardens in south London, covering the themes of trade, religion, and technology.

• #ConnectingCollections
Get a look behind the scenes at exhibitions, as well as the conservation, research, and other work involved in managing museum collections, with these monthly thematic posts on Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms.

For the family

• Pompeii: Secrets of the Dead
Find out more about the Roman inhabitants of Pompeii and Herculaneum who died during the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79 in this new documentary presented by Bettany Hughes.

• 1,000 Years A Slave
Discover the impact of slavery and the slave trade on global history and how it shaped the world today with this new series that uncovers stories from the past and their connections to modern communities.

• Royal History Quiz
Test your knowledge of British royal history and learn more about the kings and queens of the past and the places they lived with this quiz app from Historic Royal Palaces.

• Warwick Castle
Enjoy a variety of resources from Warwick Castle and find out about its history and the people who lived here in the past through wordsearches, quizzes, colouring sheets, craft activities, and more.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Peter K Burian.

• Treasure Hunters
Download this app from the Science Museum to play an interactive game that challenges players to explore the objects around them. Use it to enhance your visit to the museum or have a go at home.