Staging the World: ArtFunded objects

Published 20 July 2012

More than ten of the 190 objects at the British Museum's blockbuster Shakespeare museum were bought with help from the Art Fund. Browse a gallery of our favourites...

Album of 50 drawings of flowers, fruit and insects

Shakespeare frequently sought inspiration from the natural world and this poetic imagery is visually echoed in this album of drawings.

Gittern - Violin

Shakespeare’s plays were laced with musical songs and metaphors. Interestingly, the gittern was a precursor to the modern day guitar.

Sheldon Tapestry

Aside from the literal display of a hunt in the tapestry, Shakespeare explores the theme of romantic chases in many a play, especially in the love tangled Midsummer Night’s Dream.

John Donne

The metaphysical poet of his time, Donne explored essential themes of love, death and religion before Shakespeare’s reign as a supreme playwright.


Shakespeare frequently alluded to birds in his work and this swan broach is modelled in gold, with white enamel for feathers and black for eyes and feet


Captain Loel Guinness wears a Masque costume in this atmospheric portrait which was a popular Elizabethan event.


Intricately detailed with symbols from Shakespeare’s work, the armour represents the wars fought amongst lovers and rulers in his work.

Album Amicorum

The Album Amicorum illustrates several images of Venetian society and Shakespeare was heavily inspired by Italian culture in his work.

Stoneyhurst Salt

A 16th-century artefact, the base and cover are adorned with fruit and the bowl is decorated with lion masks.

Salcombe Coins

These coins from English and Moroccan trade in the mid-16th century trace exotic influences upon Shakespearean Britain.

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