British Museum, London

4.5 out of 5 stars 312 Reviews

Great Russell Street, WC1 +00 44 (0)20 7323 8299

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  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo

    British Museum

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Dec 6, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    If it's not in the Louvre chances are its here. Some of the most famous historical items in the world are at this museum: the Rosetta stone, the lewis chessmen and a great collection of Assyrian and Sumerian items

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    Sutton Hoo helmet

    by egonwegh Updated Jul 24, 2013

    The Sutton Hoo helmet, another famous artefact that I had wanted to see for a long time (from about late 1970s onwards). I believe there's a picture of it in the first volume of the Oxford Anthology of English Literature, that originally put me on the trail of this helmet. To be found at the British Museum.

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    British Museum

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Jun 22, 2013

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    The British Museum is the world famous museum dedicated to human history and culture. It was established in 1753.
    Its permanent collection, numbering some eight million works, is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence and originates from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present.
    We spent there the second half of our first day in London.

    You can watch my 4 min 54 sec Video London British Museum out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.

    Free, open daily 10.00–17.30
    Fridays until 20.30
    Extended hours.
    Getting there.

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    British Museum

    by Dabs Updated Jun 18, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Last visit June 2013

    It's impossible to see all of the British Museum in a day and at some point during the day you'd probably be suffering from museum overload anyway. Fortunately it's free to visit every day so you can visit for a couple of hours at a time or if you are a frequent visitor to London, you can see a different part every time you visit London.

    The museum guide has a list of highlights if your time is short and include the Rosetta Stone in the Egyptian Room, the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon in Athens (a controversial exhibit due to ownership issues and don't seem to be referred to as the Elgin Marbles anymore) and the Lewis chessmen. If your time is short or you want to visit the highlights of the museum, you might consider taking the 90 minute highlight tour for an additional fee or picking up one of the audio tours.

    There are free eye opener tours of specific galleries throughout the day, spotlight tours on Fridays and lunchtime gallery talks.

    Elgin Marbles

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    Eat your heart out Smithsonian!

    by etfromnc Updated Apr 17, 2013

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Unreal; one of London’s top attractions, and absolutely free. I have been there several times but have not even scratched the surface of the millions of things to see, peek at the Rosetta Stone, and move on to Aztec mosaic masks or the head-smashed ‘Lindow Man’ (a 1st-century unfortunate found in a peat bog in 1984) and I found that I still had over seven million other items for subsequent visits. Watch for worthwhile 20- and 50-minute eyeOpener tours offered for free too.

    The mother (or should that be ‘mummy’?) of all museums, the British Museum is the world’s oldest national public museum and London’s top free attraction. Since opening in 1759 to "all curious and studious persons," people have come to view the unrivalled collections of antiquities from Egypt, Greece, Rome, Britain, and everywhere else imaginable.

    With over seven million objects it’s impossible to see everything on one visit so either pick one or two civilizations and spend an hour or two exploring their cultures in depth, or head straight for the highlights – the Rosetta Stone (the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics), the Parthenon Sculptures (controversially brought to Britain from Athens in the early 19th century), and, of course, the mummies. From how until September, the exhibition Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum will showcase objects from the city famously buried by a volcano in 79 AD.

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    Controversy about the Parthenon marbles.

    by breughel Updated Mar 10, 2013

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    The controversy started at the time of Melina Mercouri and increased in such way that the British Museum feels now obliged to put leaflets in the Parthenon room (n° 18) as justification of keeping the Elgin marbles.
    The British Museum's position is the following:
    "The Parthenon sculptures are integral to the Museum's purpose as a world museum telling the story of human cultural achievement…
    The current division of the surviving sculptures in eight countries … allows different and complementary stories to be told about them, focussing respectively on their importance for the history of Athens and Greece, and their significance for world culture."

    I think the British Museum is right but for more general reasons:
    1° Museums worldwide have protected artefacts from destruction.
    Just an example about Athens: in the seventies, I have seen four of the original Caryatides on the Acropolis. They were so corroded by the air pollution that they had to be put inside a museum and replaced by copies.
    In the British Museum, room 19, there is one Caryatid in a much better state than those of Athens. What would be the condition of the Elgin marbles if left in Athens?

    2° Museums gave the opportunity and still give the opportunity to millions of people, who had/have not the means to travel to Greece or Egypt, to see, close to their home, artefacts of past civilisations. Without museums such as the British Museum ancient cultures would still be ignored by most people.

    3° These controversies hide economical interests linked to tourism. A number of countries on the southern border of the Mediterranean Sea - I do not include Greece among them - show interest for their past civilisations only since tourists want to spent money to visit them.

    British Museum - Caryatid. Parthenon marbles room. Parthenon marbles detail.
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    British Museum

    by Balam Written Mar 5, 2013

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    You can easily spend all day if not 2 days walking around the British Museum, there are shops that sell food but a sandwich was about £4 so cheaper to go out for lunch and then come back in. Entrance is free!

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    The British Museum

    by zadunajska8 Written Feb 26, 2013

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    Home to the famous Elgin Marbles and other assorted items pilfered by the British Empire over the centuries, the British museum is one of the best museums I have ever visited - and it's free!

    The famous Parthenon sculptures which were removed from the outside of the building in Athens and brought to England by Lord Elgin (and so known as the Elgin marbles) who was the British ambassador to the Ottoman court (the Ottomans ruled Greece) at the time are probably the most famously controversial of the exhibits, but they are far from being my favourite. There is much more interesting stuff in the museum, you just have to look around.

    Another famous exhibit is the Rosetta Stone from Ancient Egypt which enables the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs to be deciphered for the first time. A number of other rooms devoted to ancient Egypt are always popular.

    Some of the best parts of the museum are those that are less famous, in my opinion, they are certainly going to be less crowded. The ancient Assyria and Mesopotamia sections are very interesting, as are the North American, Mexican and Far Eastern sections.

    You won't be able to see the whole museum in one go. Any attempt to do so will leave you defeated and "museumed out", so I'd suggest having a look at the website first and choosing one or two sections you most want to see and then just concentrate on these. As it's free to get in you can come back another day to see other sections (providing you are still in London, of course!).

    One key attraction which is not an exhibit is the roof in the courtyard area. It is amazing and will not fail to impress when you enter.

    The British Museum The British Museum Mexico at the British Museum The Far East at the British Museum The Far East at the British Museum
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    The British Museum - The Egyptian Section.

    by Regina1965 Updated Jan 5, 2013

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    I would say that the Egyptian Section of the British Museum were the most "popular" one. Maybe because of all the films made on mummies. Anyhow it is amazing and morbid as well.

    The mummification procedure in Egypt was removing the lungs, liver, stomach and intestines and preserving them in a jar. The heart was not removed. Then the brain was removed through the nose, but it was not preserved. Then the body was packed in salt and wrapped tightly with bandages. This was done to ensure a good afterlife for the dead.

    The mummies are examined with X-rays and CT-scans as not to cause any damage to the mummies.

    Maybe the best "known" mummy at the museum is the 5500 year old mummy the Gebelein man - see my second photo. It is unbelievably well preserved, and I almost felt badly about his body lying there with all the people watching. He was found in 1896 and had been naturally mummified in a shallow grave - from the direct contact with the hot sand. He is one of the best preserved mummies from Egypt. Before mummification was taken into practise bodies were dried out like this in the sand.

    There were mummified pets there a well, kind of strange seeing a mummified cat. Other animals which were mummified were falcons, bulls and crocodiles - these animals were sacred and regardesd as intemediaries for the gods. Vast number of mummified animals have been found, amongst them birds, but cats are the most common animal mummies - linked to the goddess Bastet - and ibises - linked to the god Thoth.

    This section is the most crowded one at the museum. I was trying to read up on the mummies and learning about them, as I found this so fascinating, but it was almost impossible as more and more people kept coming into this section of the musem, taking photos with flash. The mummies are kept behind glass, so I don´t see the point in using flash. It was so disturbing.

    I overheard a conversation at the Egyptian section - two men were sure these were replicas of mummies. I totally understand that they would think so, it is amazing really that we get the chance to see these mummies up close like this.

    The Gebelein man. Mummies and mummy cases. Mummies. Mummified animals. The mummy of the 17 year old Cleopatra.

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  • Regina1965's Profile Photo

    The British Museum - on the top 5 list.

    by Regina1965 Updated Jan 5, 2013

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    The British Museum is one of the most popular and most visited museums in the world. It was founded in 1753 and is the oldest national museum in the world. It was first opened in an aristocratic mansion, but was moved to its current location in 1820s. The oldest part of the museum is the King´s Library. I like the modern addition to the museum, by one of the entrances, it is so symmetric (see my first photo).

    The British museum is massive, it takes most of the day visiting it, I spent 3,5 hours in there. Like with other national museums, one needs to visit them twice, as after a couple of hours one stops taking in more information, which is a shame as these museums are goldmines.

    There is an Egyptian section with all the mummies and Egyptian history. Then there is a section on Ancient Near East. Another section on Britain and Europe. And a section on Greece and Rome. An America and Mexico section. An Asia section. And the Africa section is down in the cellar. So it is understandable that it takes up most of the day to walk through the museum and read up on each section.

    On the 5th floor there is the Japanese section and in the cellar is the Islamic section.

    On the main floor is the Rosetta stone, which enabled the Egyptian hieroglyphs to be deciphered. A replica of the Rosetta stone is in the Library and people are encouraged to touch it. I overheard a conversation at the Library when some visitors thought that this might be the real Rosetta stone and were amazed that it was so poorly kept at the museum ;)

    On the main floor is the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery with the large Egyptian sculptures. It is amazing walking there, surreal really, walking amongst these huge sculptures. This is a very popular photo-stop at the British museum.

    Some sections of the museum are more crowded than others. At the Egyptian mummie´s section it was difficult to move around - on the other hand I was alone in the Islamic section and very few people were in the Japanic section. But those sections were kind of hard to find at the museum.

    Opening hours: daily 10:00-17:30 open longer on Fridays like the other national museums and galleries - from 10:00-20:30.

    Admission: free.

    Photos with flash are allowed. I kind of wish they wouldn´t allow flash as it is a bit disturbing.

    The museum is so big and interesting that I lack words for writing more about it, one has to visit it to experience it.

    The British Museum. The British Museum. At the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery. The Rosetta Stone. The Roman Emperor Augustus 27-25 BC

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    Elgin Marbles

    by mikey_e Written Dec 7, 2012

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    While the entire concept of a museum or gallery can be controversial in some circles, the most publically recognized controversy to stem from the British Museum’s collection surrounds the Elgin Marbles. Taken from the Parthenon in Athens in 1812 by the former British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, they are currently on display at the British Museum. The most spectacular component of the marbles is the Parthenon Frieze, from the 5th century BCE. There is no definitive interpretation of the frieze, but it appears to show various processions of celebrants, including both men in martial costume and civilians, including women. It is exemplary of the Attic style of engraving and was likely completed under the instruction of Pheidias. The marbles also contain various pediments, statuary and other relics that exhibit the refined and highly detailed style of sculpture achieved by Attic craftsmen. The marbles are the subject of a diplomatic dispute between the UK and Greece and, although the Greek government has constructed a museum for their return to Athens, it does not appear that they will be returned any time soon. Nevertheless, they are well exhibited in London, and it would be a shame for anyone visiting the city not to see these polemic works of art.

    Parthenon marbles A relief on display Statues More reliefs More statues
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    The nerdiest place on earth

    by mikey_e Written Dec 7, 2012

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    It’s difficult to distill the value of visiting the British Museum into a written explanation of some photographs. Let’s put it this way: you can go to Greece, or Iraq, or Syria, or Italy, and see the places where ancient works of art once stood, or you can go to the British Museum and view the ancient works of art themselves. Originally established in 1753 as the collection of Sir Sloane, it has stood on its current site since 1759. Its collection has grown to over eight million pieces and has examples of the cultures and creative energies of peoples from all seven continents. This wealth of items is largely due to the British colonial period, when the British Crown held territories across the world and its travelers, amongst the most intrepid of European expatriates, returned to the country with items they had purchased (or, occasionally, stolen) from distant lands. Over the years, portions of the collection have been split off to ensure that other institutions, such as the British Library and the British Natural History Museum, could be founded. The mission of the institution has also changed, from one that exhibited artifacts as curiosities, to a place of education and scholarship, aiming both to inform the public of the wider world and the cultures of other countries, and to provide a basis upon which researchers and scholars might conduct their investigations. The Museum is not without controversy, but it has sought to try to incorporate and address dissenting views, and has also taken a critical look at collections and the fascination with “the other.” The Museum has organized exhibits of modern British and North American cultural trends, seeking to establish links between and comparisons with other cultures, and continuous re-evaluates its presentation of artifacts, leading to new and impressive means of explaining its collection (such as the Islamic gallery).

    Entrance to the British Museum The Foyer Assyrian relief Assyrian relief Asian gallery
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    The British Museum

    by antistar Updated Dec 4, 2012

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    Founded in an age of great discovery, and building its collection as the pre-eminent museum at the heart of the greatest empire the world has ever known, the British Museum is easily one of the best of its kind in the world. Permanent exhibits are world famous, and sometimes extremely controversial, taken as they were from countries either in the British Empire, or under British protectorate.

    My personal favourite is the Rosetta Stone, the discovery of which finally allowed the translation of Egyptian hieroglyphics after years of failure. The incredible stone had the exact same text written on it in three languages of the region at that time: one well known, Greek, one obscure, Demotic, and one completely indecipherable: Hieroglyphics. With a phrase in that language now understood, the world of Ancient Egyptians opened up to historians.

    The Rosetta Stone makes up just one small part of the enormous Egyptian collection. Then you have the Greek collection with the controversial Elgin Marbles, an exhibit that makes the Greeks so mad they built a museum for the Parthenon with a great empty space where the Elgin Marbles are to go if they are ever returned.

    As well as exhibits from all over the empire, there's also an extensive local collection too, probably the most famous of which is the treasure of Sutton Hoo. This was one of the most incredible prehistoric discoveries, and the ceremonial helmet is a British icon recognizable by everyone. You can find that and much more in the British Museum.

    And possibly the best thing of all about this museum: it's FREE.

    British Museum, London Rosetta Stone, British Museum, London

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  • cochinjew's Profile Photo

    The Greatest Museum ..and it is FREE

    by cochinjew Written Oct 1, 2012

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    My strategy has been to spend a few hours each time I visit British Museum, a habit started when I was a student in London.
    and then plan the next visit depending upon your interest.
    if you have just one hour: there are a few things to see which will wet your apetite. I have written a blog about it which you may wish to read:
    http://medicoanthropologist.blogspot.fr/2012/09/if-you-are-tired-of-british-museum-your.html

    It is a HUGE museum so dont expect to see everything or even a glimpse of everything.

    My next visit:
    another visit to the Persia Room; and see the Middle East Room (not Egypt since it deserves a special visit by itself)

    samurai constume Persian Handcrafted Gold Jewelry a babylonian game imported by Jews of Cochin roman vase ming dynasty vase

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    The British Museum

    by Paul2001 Updated Aug 11, 2012

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    The British Museum should interest anyone with even a slightest interests in anthropology or archeology. There is so much to see here that there is something that might perk the curiosity of anyone who walks through its doors. However I should warn you that the British Museum is a big rambling place that can be visited in just a few hours visit. The collections spans such a wide variety of cultures and topics that it can seem overwhelming. Highlights include the exhibits on the Ancient worlds of Egypt, Greece, Rome, Asia and the Americas. Knowing in advance that I could not possibly explore the whole museum in just the three hours that intended upon spending there, I instead concentrated upon the Egyptian, Greek and Roman collections. This means I was able to take in such notable pieces like the Rosetta Stone, Lord Elgin's Marbles, the huge collection of marbles and a wide variety of Ancient Roman artifacts. Sadly I did not take in any of the Asian cultures exhibits. Regretably so since I have developed an interest in Indian art in particular since my visit to the British Museum. It is also advisable to visit this museum with lots of energy. I did not as I had arrived in London from Toronto just 7 hours before my visit and was somewhat jetlagged.
    During my second visit in 2010, I was much more energized and really enjoyed my visit. I was able to comfortably visit all of the galleries that I intended on when I set out touring the musuem. I still found the place to mind boggling. There is no way one can visit it all in one day and if you do what I did, chart in advance what your interests are and aim for them, you will enjoy yourself throughly. Oddly enough I ignored the exhibits featuring North American native peoples. I guess I can see all want of these here in Canada.
    At the time of my first visit to the British Museum I had never visited a museum of this scope in my life. 21 years later, having journeyed through 30 countries and having visited countless museum, I have concluded that this is certainly the great archeological museum in the world. Some call the greatest museum in the world of any kind and this is quite possibly true.
    The British Museum is opened seven days a week. You pay by way of suggested donation which should be about 5 pounds. Since my last visit there are been the addition of a new cafeteria which was decent.

    An Ancient Greek Temple An Ancient Greek statue of a dog An Ancient Egyptian Sculpture Alexander the Great (supposedly very accurate!) A 4,500 year old scupture from Babylon.
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