Thursday, 4 July 2013

New TV series coming soon - Museum Secrets, on Yesterday

From television channel Yesterday, a new series that might be of interest from early August:

Museum Secrets, new & exclusive to Yesterday, Fridays at 9pm from 2nd August

Museum Secrets explores the world’s most extraordinary museums to uncover some remarkable objects. Moscow’s State Historical Museum, London’s National Maritime Museum and the Chateau of Versailles are in a select group renowned for their incredibly rich collections, stunning architecture, and the prominent roles they have played in the history of world art, culture and achievement.

Each episode of this eight part series focuses on a different museum and profiles key artefacts from their perspective collections. World-renowned historians, experts and curators tell the fascinating stories behind these objects and uncover their inspiration, spirituality, interpretation, mystery, science, discovery, protection and preservation.

As the stories are revealed viewers are taken beyond the public galleries and into hidden places visitors are rarely allowed to see, with the use of cutting edge research and technology to investigate the unknown.

Museum and Episode Guide:

National Maritime Museum, London – Friday 2nd August

The National Maritime Museum collection allows visitors to trace the origins of British sea power, its accomplishments in the age of empire, and its consequences in the world today.

This museum celebrates Great Britain’s proud sea-faring heritage and its naval heroes; most famous of all is Admiral Horatio Nelson. He was shot and killed during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and for decades many stories circulated about who the man who pulled the trigger. One claim from a Frenchman was he shot Nelson from the rigging of a French ship. Could a sniper really have targeted Nelson in all the smoke and chaos of the battle?

Israel Museum, Jerusalem – Friday 9th August

Visited by a million people every year, the Israel Museum features the most extensive collection of biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world.

This museum has the only physical evidence in the world of a crucifixion. It is a small heel bone, pierced by a nail, from the tomb of a man called Yohanan from the 1st Century AD. Who was Yohanan and how does his heel bone reveal what crucifixion was really like?

Uffizi, Florence – Friday 16th August

Visited by 1.5 million people every year, the Uffizi is one of the oldest art museums in the western world, boasting paintings and sculpture by the greatest masters of the Renaissance.

Inside the Uffizi is a portrait of The Duke of Urbino, a prominent Renaissance nobleman and long considered one of the greatest allies of Lorenzo di Medici, ruler of Florence. That was until a long lost letter found in Urbino’s family archives, which reveals the truth behind one of the most famous political plots in history, The Pazzi Conspiracy. What did the letter reveal about a murder so famous it inspired the popular video game, Assassin’s Creed?

State Historical Museum, Moscow – Friday 23rd August

Moscow’s State Historical Museum tells the story of Russia and its people from the Stone Age to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Within the walls of this museum are Russia’s treasures which may hold the answers to their secretive past. One of the mysteries answered in this episode is why Vladmir Lenin, the leader of the Russian Revolution, drove the ultimate symbol of wealth and class, a Rolls Royce, when he vowed to create a classless state and to be a “man of the people”.

The Smithsonian, Washington DC – Friday 30th August

Established in 1846 by a scientist named James Smithson, The Smithsonian is the largest museum and research complex in the world, with over 10 million visitors every year and nearly 137 million specimens and artefacts.

The museum houses thousands of aviation and space artefacts, including a fighter plane owned by one of America’s greatest villains. Squadrons of Japanese Zero fighter planes were responsible for the devastating attack on Pearl Harbour that left thousands of Americans dead. With the help of aviation historian Osamu Tagaya, and Zero pilot Warren Pietsch, the secrets of a great American nemesis is investigated.

Chateau of Versailles, Paris – Friday 6th September

What was once a royal palace is now a museum of French culture and history attracting three million visitors every year.

Before the French Revolution, King Louis the Sixteenth and his wife Marie Antoinette enjoyed the luxury lifestyle of living at Versailles. By 1789, with the country in turmoil Marie Antoinette had become a magnet for the hatred of the masses due to their life of excess. This episode uncovers some surprising truths from Marie Antoinette’s encrypted letters and the secret passageways at Versailles.

Palacio Real, Madrid – Friday 13th September

Both a museum and the official palace of the Spanish royal family, the Palacio Real features armour, artworks and treasures that were once the private possessions of Spain’s kings and queens.

Everyone thinks the foundation of Spanish wealth was silver and gold from the New World. In truth it was another element, one found deep beneath the ground in rural Spain that was the crucial ingredient in Spain’s Golden Age. This episode explores this mysterious element and how it shaped the country’s destiny.

Bardo Museum, Tunisia – Friday 20th September

Established within a 19th Century palace, the museum features thousands of artefacts from excavations carried out throughout Tunisia, that date from the nation’s Carthaginian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods.

Inside this museum there is evidence that when Rome ruled Tunisia, North Africans enjoyed Roman style entertainment. The most popular and violent were the gladiatorial games. In Hollywood depictions, these games take place before a bloodthirsty crowd and it appears the only outcome for the loser is death. But what was a Gladiator’s life and death really like?

(With thanks to Emily Jones, at Yesterday's Factual Department)


My new book, Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet, is now available from Pen and Sword. My Scottish land and church records ebooks are available at, whilst my next Pharos Scottish course, Scottish Research Online, starts Sep 4th - see Time to smash a few brick walls...!

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