Call for museums to get involved in BBC ‘Civilisations’ Festival 4 Aug 2017

The BBC has announced plans for the ‘Civilisations Festival’ – a partnership between museums and the BBC to coincide with the broadcast of a new TV series ‘Civilisations’ in Spring 2018. The series, fronted by David Olusoga, Mary Beard and Simon Schama, is inspired by Kenneth Clark’s original landmark programme ‘Civilisation’ half a century ago and aims 'to introduce a new generation to the great masterworks of beauty, ingenuity and illumination created across the continents'.   

The Civilisations Festival will take place from 2nd–11th March 2018 and is intended to engage a ‘culturally curious audience' and to spark debate, broaden understanding and share ideas about what is meant by the term civilisation. Museums are free to choose the content of their Festival events: a debate, speech, workshop using collections or a performance are among the suggestions.   Opportunities for participating museums include:

  • Listing on Culture24’s new site Museum Crush. Culture24 is partnering with the BBC for the festival.
  • Promotion on BBC local radio, which will be an important element in getting local audiences to events.
  • Civilisations branding materials from the BBC.
  • Potential opportunities for curators and speakers to be invited onto BBC programmes, or outside broadcast of museum events.
  • The chance to use innovative, newly developed digital tools and test them on the BBC's Taster platform, designed to push new digital boundaries. Other digital opportunities  will include interactive 360 video tools, low cost live video broadcasting and personalised content linked to the Festival partnership. 
  • Use of an augmented reality app being developed by the BBC which will allow visitors to explore museum objects using tablets and smartphones. The BBC is offering museums the chance to capture some of their collections in this way using sector partners and the BBC’s own expertise.
  • Access to the BBC archive - the BBC wants to open up its enormous archive to partners in the project for use in events or in the stories they want to tell as part of the Festival.


To register interest in taking part in the Festival and to receive updates on plans museums should email the BBC at [email protected]. If you are interested in the augmented reality element of the programme, the contact deadline is 30th September.

  The BBC are holding a conference to outline the Civilisations Festival at Manchester Museum on 5th September 2017. Attendees will hear more about BBC plans for the Festival and how to get involved, as well as having an opportunity to look at the digital technology tools on offer in a hands-on demonstration. Spaces will be limited; to register please contact [email protected] A series of additional workshops for museums to gain a better hands-on understanding of the digital tools on offer are also being planned by the BBC's Research & Development team. They will take place in Bristol, Birmingham, London and York in September and further details will be available shortly.   BBC (NB: this link is intended for interested museums. The BBC request it is not posted to social media or visitor-facing websites). Museums Journal