Welcome to The British Museum, a world-renowned institution dedicated to preserving and showcasing some of the most important artifacts and collections in history. For any history enthusiast, a visit to The British Museum is a truly unique experience that will transport you through time and across civilizations.
Like most museums in London, The British Museum is free of admission (though some events and special exhibitions have an admission charge). But were it the most expensive attraction in the city, it would be worth the price. Often rated the number one tourist attraction, it houses millions of artifacts from around the world and through history.
The museum boasts an impressive collection of over eight million artifacts spanning from prehistoric times to the present day, making it one of the largest and most diverse collections in the world. From ancient Egyptian mummies to Greek sculptures, from Japanese prints to African masks, there is truly something for everyone.
If you’re planning a visit, you can expect to spend hours exploring the various exhibits and collections, each with their unique stories and significance. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what makes The British Museum so special and provide you with all the information you need to plan your visit.
The History of The British Museum
Founded in 1753, The British Museum has a rich history spanning over 250 years. Initially established as a library for scholars and researchers, it quickly expanded to include a collection of books, manuscripts, and other artifacts. Over time, the museum’s collections grew and diversified, reflecting its mission to promote the study of human history and culture.
Today, The British Museum houses over eight million objects, ranging from the iconic Rosetta Stone to contemporary art installations. Its collections span the globe, showcasing the cultural achievements of all human civilizations throughout history.
|Notable Collections at The British Museum||Description|
|The Ancient Egyptian Collection||Featuring mummies, sarcophagi, and other ancient Egyptian artifacts, this collection is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the world.|
|The Parthenon Sculptures||Also known as the Elgin Marbles, these sculptures were removed from the Parthenon in Athens and brought to London in the early 19th century. They remain a subject of controversy and debate to this day.|
|The Asian Collection||Spanning India, China, Japan, and other Asian cultures, this collection features exquisite works of art and historical objects that offer a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the continent.|
Despite its many challenges over the years, including loss of funding and damage from World War II bombing, The British Museum has persevered and grown to become one of the most important cultural institutions in the world. It continues to attract visitors from all corners of the globe, offering a unique and fascinating glimpse into the human experience.
The Collections at The British Museum
The British Museum is home to an incredible range of collections that span the history of human civilization. With over 8 million objects in its collections, the museum offers an unparalleled glimpse into the cultures and societies of the world.
One of the museum’s most famous collections is the Egyptian collection, which includes the Rosetta Stone, mummies, and other artifacts that provide a window into the lives and beliefs of the ancient Egyptians. The museum’s Greek and Roman collection is also noteworthy, featuring objects such as the Parthenon sculptures and the Portland Vase.
Another highlight of the museum’s collection is the Department of Asia, which features items from China, Japan, and Korea, including ceramics, textiles, and metalwork. The Africa, Oceania, and Americas collections also offer a fascinating look at the cultures of these regions, with objects ranging from ancient Egyptian tomb sculptures to contemporary African art.
Notable Artifacts and Exhibits
Among the British Museum’s many noteworthy exhibits and artifacts is the Sutton Hoo ship burial, which is widely considered one of the most significant archaeological finds in Britain. The museum is also home to the Lewis Chessmen, a set of carved chess pieces that date back to the 12th century.
Another fascinating exhibit is the Elgin Marbles, a collection of classical Greek marble sculptures that were originally part of the Parthenon in Athens. The controversy surrounding their acquisition by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century continues to this day, making them a must-see exhibit for any visitor to the museum.
Other notable exhibits include the Enlightenment Gallery, which explores the cultural and intellectual history of Europe in the 18th century, and the Mexican gallery, which showcases the vibrant and complex culture of ancient Mesoamerica.
With so many collections and exhibits to explore, it’s easy to get lost in the fascinating history and culture represented at The British Museum. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply looking for an unforgettable cultural experience, a visit to this iconic museum is not to be missed.
Visiting The British Museum
If you’re planning a visit to The British Museum, there are a few things you should know to help make your experience as enjoyable as possible.
Admission to The British Museum is free, although special exhibitions may require a fee. You can book tickets online or in person at the museum.
The museum is open daily from 10:00am-5:30pm, except on Fridays when it stays open until 8:30pm. It is closed on 24, 25, 26 December and 1 January.
The museum is wheelchair accessible, with lifts available to access all floors. Visitors with disabilities can also borrow wheelchairs and mobility aids from the Information Desk. Guide dogs are welcome in the museum.
|Access Information||+44 (0)20 7323 8299, [email protected]|
|Bookings and Tickets||+44 (0)20 7323 8181, [email protected]|
|Shop Enquiries||[email protected]|
For more information on accessibility services at The British Museum, including detailed access guides and maps, please visit the museum’s website.
Must-See Exhibits at The British Museum
The British Museum is home to an incredible collection of more than eight million works that span thousands of years of human history. With so much to see, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Here are some must-see exhibits and artifacts that you won’t want to miss during your visit:
|The Rosetta Stone||This ancient artifact, dating back to 196 BC, played a crucial role in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs. Its inscriptions are written in three scripts: ancient Greek, demotic script, and hieroglyphs.|
|The Parthenon Sculptures||Also known as the Elgin Marbles, these sculptures once adorned the Parthenon temple in Athens. They were controversially removed by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century and brought to the British Museum.|
|The Sutton Hoo Treasure||This collection of Anglo-Saxon artifacts was discovered in 1939 and includes a ceremonial helmet, a lyre, and a gold belt buckle. It is considered one of the most important archaeological finds in British history.|
|The Mummy of Ramses II||This mummy belonged to one of Egypt’s most powerful pharaohs and is over 3,000 years old. It is incredibly well-preserved and offers a glimpse into ancient Egyptian burial practices.|
While these exhibits are some of the museum’s most famous, there are countless other treasures to discover during your visit. Be sure to explore the galleries dedicated to ancient Greece and Rome, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, among others.
Planning Your Visit
To ensure that you have enough time to see the exhibits that interest you most, plan your visit in advance and prioritize the galleries and artifacts that you don’t want to miss.
- Admission to the British Museum is free, but some special exhibitions require a fee.
- The museum is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm, with extended hours on Fridays until 8:30 pm.
- The museum is easily accessible by public transportation, including the London Underground, buses, and trains.
With its vast collection and fascinating exhibits, The British Museum is truly a unique experience that history enthusiasts and first-time visitors alike won’t want to miss.
The British Museum and Modern Art
While The British Museum is perhaps best known for its extensive historical collections, it has also made a concerted effort to include more modern and contemporary art in recent years.
One of the most notable examples of this is the museum’s “Living and Dying” exhibit, which explores the theme of mortality through a collection of contemporary artworks and historical artifacts. The exhibit includes pieces from artists such as Damien Hirst and Grayson Perry, and provides a unique perspective on a topic that has fascinated humanity for centuries.
The British Museum has also hosted a number of temporary exhibits featuring modern and contemporary art in recent years. These exhibits have included everything from immersive installations to thought-provoking sculptures, and highlight the museum’s commitment to showcasing a diverse range of artistic styles and mediums.
Visitors interested in modern and contemporary art should also make a point to check out the museum’s collection of prints and drawings, which includes works from artists such as Picasso, Matisse, and Warhol. Whether you’re an art buff or simply curious about the ways in which historical and modern art intersect, The British Museum has something for everyone.
Special Events and Programs at The British Museum
Visiting The British Museum isn’t just about admiring the exhibits, but also about engaging in the various special events and programs offered by the museum. These events are designed to enhance visitors’ experience and provide a deeper understanding of the collections and their significance.
Workshops and Courses
The British Museum offers a variety of workshops and courses for visitors of all ages and interests. These include hands-on art workshops, history courses, and language classes. Some workshops are designed specifically for families and children, while others are geared towards adults. These events are a great way to learn more about the museum’s collections and engage with like-minded individuals.
Lectures and Talks
The British Museum hosts a range of lectures and talks throughout the year, delivered by experts in various fields. These events cover a wide range of topics, from ancient history to contemporary art, and provide a unique opportunity to learn from some of the world’s leading authorities in their respective fields.
In addition to the museum’s permanent collections, The British Museum also hosts a number of temporary exhibitions throughout the year. These exhibitions showcase a range of fascinating artifacts and collections from around the world, providing visitors with the opportunity to explore different cultures and historical periods.
The British Museum hosts a range of special events throughout the year, including film screenings, performances, and concerts. These events offer a unique and entertaining way to experience the museum’s collections and engage with the wider cultural community.
Be sure to check The British Museum’s website for more information on upcoming events and programs, and plan your visit accordingly.
Dining and Shopping at The British Museum
After exploring the exhibits and collections, take some time to relax and refuel at one of the many dining options at The British Museum. From quick bites to full meals, there’s something for everyone.
|The Great Court Restaurant||British||Great Court, Level 1|
|The Court Café||Café-style food||Great Court, Level 0|
|The Terrace Café||Light bites and pastries||Level 4|
If you’re looking for a souvenir to remember your visit, stop by one of the museum’s gift shops. From books to jewelry, there’s a wide variety of items available to suit all tastes.
- The British Museum Shop – Great Court, Level 0
- The Grenville Room Shop – Room 37, Level -1
- The Forecourt Shop – Outside the main entrance
Don’t forget to pick up a memento for your friends and family back home!
Note: Some dining and shopping options may have limited hours or be closed due to COVID-19 precautions. Please check ahead of time before your visit.
Planning a visit to The British Museum can be a thrilling experience, but it’s natural to have some questions beforehand. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions to help you better prepare for your trip:
How much does it cost to visit The British Museum?
Admission to The British Museum is free of charge. However, some special exhibitions may require a fee. It’s always best to check the museum’s website for up-to-date information on pricing.
Can I take a guided tour of the museum?
Yes, guided tours are available at an additional cost. Visitors can choose from a variety of tours, including general tours of the museum’s highlights or more specific tours focused on particular collections or themes. Check the museum’s website for more information.
Can I take photographs inside the museum?
Yes, photography is allowed in most areas of the museum. However, some temporary exhibitions may have restrictions on photography, so it’s always best to check with museum staff before taking any photos.
What are the opening hours of The British Museum?
The museum is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm, except for Fridays when it stays open until 8:30 pm. Closed on 1 January, Good Friday, and 24, 25, and 26 December.
Is The British Museum accessible for visitors with disabilities?
Yes, The British Museum is committed to making its exhibits and facilities accessible to visitors with disabilities. The museum has a range of facilities, including accessible entrances, lifts, ramps, and wheelchair loans. For more information, check the museum’s website or contact the museum directly.
Are there any workshops or programs available for children?
Yes, The British Museum has a range of workshops and programs designed specifically for children of all ages. These include art activities, games, storytelling sessions, and more. Check the museum’s website for more information on these programs.
Can I purchase souvenirs at The British Museum?
Absolutely! The museum has several gift shops that offer a range of souvenirs, including books, postcards, and replica artifacts. There are also on-site cafes and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat or drink.
With these answers to your frequently asked questions, you can now plan your visit to The British Museum with confidence and ease!
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