British Museum

Photo: Wikipedia
British Museum map location

British Museum address and telephone

British Museum is located at: Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury,
London WC1B 3DG
You can contact British Museum on Work +44 (0) 207 323 8299
The British Museum website can be visited at

British Museum opening times and ticket price

Opening hours:
British Museum is open to the public from: 10 AM to 5.30 PM (Sat-Thu); 10 AM to 8.30 PM (Fri); Last entry 15 mins before closing
Visiting hours are subject to change, and may not apply on public holidays. Always reconfirm whether it’s open to visitors before making plans to visit British Museum
Time required:
A typical visit to British Museum lasts 2½-3 hours (approx)
Ticket cost:
The entry price for British Museum is: Adults free entry

How to get to British Museum

When visiting British Museum you can use the following:
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If you want to visit British Museum by train then the nearest underground station to British Museum is Tottenham Court Road
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The Great Court and Reading RoomGreat Court, Reading Room The Elgin MarblesThe Elgin Marbles Mike Peel / www.mikepeel.netThe Nereid Monument Photo: Hans Hillewaert / WikipediaThe Rosetta Stone

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The British Museum owns over six million exhibits from ancient Egypt, Greece, Italy, Africa and the Orient. It has major works by the Romans, Greeks and Persians. Everything from pre-history to the present day can be found in its several miles of galleries.

History of The British Museum

The British Museum began life in 1759, when Sir Hans Sloane bequeathed his cabinet of curiosities to the nation. King George II followed up with 17,000 manuscripts from the Old Royal Library, and George IV donated his father’s collection.

Other gifts include David Garrick’s plays, Lord Elgin’s Marbles, and Captain Cook’s boatload of artefacts from his voyages around the Pacific.

The building was opened to the public in 1759 and continued to grow in size. In the 1880s the decision was taken to split the goods in two, and the flora and fauna was moved to the Natural History Museum. In 1973 the books were moved to the newly-built British Library near King’s Cross.

The Great Court, and Reading Room

The museum’s inner courtyard was once hidden from public view, but has now been transformed into one its grandest attractions. The Great Court boasts the largest covered square in Europe, and was put in place by Norman Foster.

The Reading Room was opened in 1808 and soon became a haven for students and museum curators. It quickly grew in size, and an improved room was commissioned by Sydney Smirke.

It has been frequented in the past by the likes of Mahatma Ghandi, Karl Marx and George Bernard Shaw.

Ancient Egypt collection, and Rosetta Stone

The British Museum houses one of the finest collections of Egyptian antiquities outside Cairo – with masses of mummies, sarcophagi and funerary equipment. The huge granite head of Rameses II dominates the wing, keeping watch on ‘Ginger’ – the 5,000 year-old man with tufts of hair on his head.

One of the most important artefacts in the collection is the Rosetta Stone. This was discovered by Napoleon’s army in 1799, and bequeathed to the British on the battle field. Its granite rock consists of three strips of language: one in Greek, one in Egyptian, and another in a cursive script. This triple translation allowed Jean-François Champollion to decode the pictograms.

Ancient Greece, and the Parthenon (Elgin) Marbles

The museum’s most controversial exhibit is the Parthenon Marbles – commonly called the Elgin Marbles after the guy who brought them back to Britain. He chipped them from the Parthenon walls in 1816, as he was worried they would be damaged in a skirmish with the Turks.

His license from the occupying forces gave him a legal right, which we still maintain today. But modern-day Greece has been clamouring for their return – claiming they were spirited away by the English diplomat.

The 5th-century frieze features figures, beasts and a festival in honour of Athen’s patron goddess – Athena.

Other exhibits at The British Museum

The British Museum’s Assyrian collection comes from modern-day Iraq, and features huge friezes from King Ashurbanipal’s Palace. The grand entrance to Khorsabad – Palace of Sargon – should definitely not be missed. The alabaster wall reliefs show battle scenes from ancient Nineveh.

The Rome collection’s most famous piece is the Portland Vase, made sometime in the 5th-century BC. It is one of the earliest examples of glass-blowing in existence. Unfortunately, it was smashed into a hundred pieces by a drunken guest in the 1800s, and major repairs can be seen in the glaze.

Other major exhibits include the Mildenhall Treasure – a treasure-trove of Roman tableware – and Lindow Man, a.k.a. ‘Pete Marsh’, who was preserved in a Cheshire peat bog for 2,000 years.

A big chip in Pete’s head tells us that he was pelted with an axe and garrotted… so I guess he must have upset someone. This unfortunate fellow is still being unlucky even now, because when the farmer found him in 1984 his peat-thresher sliced his body in half!

  • Craig – “My idea of hell is spending all day in a big museum filled with rocks and busted cups and plates. That's basically all it is, a building with bits of busted junk. Statues with their arms missing, old vases with their handles snapped off, and a couple of old leg bones with a flap of skin clinging to it. Quality control goes right out the window when it comes to museums. In an art gallery, the works generally have to be of a pretty good quality to get on the wall (unless it's modern art, of course). But in a museum, if it's old, it's in. If it's broken, it doesn't matter. If half of it is missing, then who cares. These days if you found a statue with its fingers missing then you'd send it back for a refund, but not in the british museum -- they put it in a big glass box and shine a load of lights on it. There are millions of plates and cups and coins like that and it makes me fall asleep. When you enter you go straigh”
  • JRubin – “The most interesting bit that I saw was all the old english medival stuff. I have heard of the sutton hoo ship which the found buried in the ground with all the grave stuff around it, and I was a bit disappointed that they didnt have the atual boat on display. Or if they did, I couldnt find it. They didnt have hardly any of it, the best bit was that famous helmet, but if you look closely at it then there is practically nothing of it left. It's just little tiny bits and pieces and the rest they have just made up themselves. But there was still some impressive stuff there. I surprised myself when I caught myself looking at all the old medival floor tiles, with pictures of old kings on it. It sounds boring but there was something about them that just appealed to me. Dont know why .”

If you like British Museum, then you might also like…

> Victoria & Albert Museum The V&A has a large and varied collection – from 17th-century dresses to the growling Tipu’s Tiger.
> Petrie Museum The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology has 80,000 objects from Egyptian history.
> Wallace Collection The Wallace Collection is one of London’s best galleries, with works by Rembrandt, Rubens and Titian.
> Sir John Soane’s Museum Sir John’s passion for memorabilia has led to a hotchpotch of objects from all over the world.

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