Explore art galleries, Bible Library, science and collection of more than seven million objects of human history, culture and interest in British museum, England.
It’s not hyperbole to say that London is home to many of the world’s best museums. Venues such as the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Science Museum, Design Museum and natural history museum can justly lay claim to being the best in their field. The country’s largest museum and one of the oldest and finest in the world, this famous museum boasts vast Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek, Roman, European and Middle Eastern galleries, among many others. It is once again London’s most visited attraction, drawing an average of five and a half million punters each year. The world-famous British Museum exhibits the works of man from prehistoric to modern times, from around the world. Highlights include the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures and the mummies in the Ancient Egypt collection.
The British Museum, opened in 1753, houses a world collection of art and antiquities from ancient and living cultures that spans two million years of history. It displays ranging from prehistoric to modern times were primarily based on the collections of physician and scientist, Sir Hans Sloane. Notable objects include the Parthenon Sculptures (also sometimes called the Elgin Marbles), the Rosetta Stone, the Sutton Hoo and Mildenhall treasures, and the Portland Vase. The hieroglyphics and classical sculptures are instantly recognisable and world famous. The museum’s collection of ancient Egyptian mummies is world famous and The Michael Cohen Gallery in this section includes a special tomb-chapel room dedicated to the life Negamun, a wealthy Egyptian who died around 1350 BC. This Egyptian gallery was one of four to open in 2008-09 including spaces dedicated to Clocks and Watches, Medieval Europe, and the Percival David Collection of Chinese Art, part of the Sir Joseph Hotung Centre for Ceramic Studies. The crowning glory of the museum its central hub, the glass domed Great Court designed by Lord Norman Foster – the largest covered public square in Europe.
Permanent collections: Apart from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the British Museum is home to the most comprehensive collection of Egyptian antiquities in the world, spanning some 11,000 years of history. Of the seven permanent galleries, those on the second floor are the most compelling, housing the unparalleled collection of mummies and coffins. Don’t miss the Rosetta Stone, the key to our contemporary understanding of hieroglyphs.
The significant collection of Greek and Roman objects covers the Greek Bronze Age to the 4th century AD. The star attractions are the contentious Parthenon sculptures from the Acropolis, and the galleries also feature figures and a frieze from the astonishing Mausoleum of Halikarnassus and the Temple of Artemis from Ephesus – two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
The Anglo-Saxon Sutton Hoo treasure – one of the most important finds in British archaeology – has recently been given more prominence with a spectacular new display which links it to other cultures featured in the museum.
The museum’s world culture galleries are some of its most fascinating. In the Africa galleries there are the outstanding Benin Bronzes. The applied arts of China and Japan are well represented, while the galleries of Islamic art are some of the largest in the world, including paintings, pottery and glassware. The Middle Eastern galleries are dominated by the extensive collection of Mesopotamian artefacts.
Home to the national collection of prints and drawings, the British Museum’s holdings extend from the 14th century to the present day, and include works by all the major European and British artists.
Art Funded works: The Vale of York Viking Hoard, funded in 2009, includes objects from a variety of regions and nations that speak persuasively of the contemporary growth and diversity of trade networks.
Of the many studies Michelangelo produced for the Sistine Chapel, his study for the figure of Adam, acquired in 1926, is among the finest.
Located in Bloomsbury, the cultural heart of London, the British Museum is easily reached by bus or tube. Tottenham Court Road and Holborn are the nearest tube stations. The courtyard is the nerve-center of the museum and from here you can set off on a series of tours exploring different parts of the collection.
Entry to the museum is free but there are admission charges for entry to exhibitions. As exhibitions change, check the website or call for specific information. There are lots of activities for children including six trails to explore, workshops, performances and storytelling and backpacks containing puzzles and games. Free art materials are also available for you to create your own pictures.
While both the Gallery Café and the two smaller Court cafés provide all the homemade light meals (and excellent cakes) one could require, the British Museum’s Court Restaurant offers something rather more special European classics under the glass roof of the Great Court.