There is so much to see in this museum you could probably spend a whole day and still not see everything. If you don't want to spend THAT much time here, or arrive later in the day like me, there is a written guide that points out some of the museums most famous and interesting highlights so you can find these easily and focus your visit. These include:
The Rosetta Stone* - pretty innocuous looking but the fact that the stone has the same text in Greek, Demotic and Egyptian languages allowed scholars to translate Egyptian hieroglyphics for the first time against a known text
The Elgin Marbles *- Frieze reliefs from the Parthenon in Athens, they depict a festival to celebrate the birthday of Athena. There is, naturally, some controversy as to whether these should be in Greece, not London, but don't let that take away from how amazing they are. They are set out around the wall of large room
The Lewis Chessmen* - Apparently carved from the tusks of walruses these are believed to date as far back as the 12th century and were found by a crofter on the Isle of Lewis in the 1830s
Whatever areas of the collections interest you, make sure you get a map from information to let you make the most of your visit
A huge museum full of art and historical artefacts from around the world. Entry is free and you could probably spend the best part of a day exploring the various exhibits.
The British Museum was first housed on this site in 1759 in Montague House after the government bought the 80,000 strong collection of Sir Hans Sloane. As the collection out grew this building, a new one was constructed in the 19th century. This has had further additions and alterations over the years but is basically the same building.
Its an impressive building, particularly the "Great Court" - teh central hub of the museum with the light pouring in through the glass roof. All the galleries lead off this area and it is also where you will find the shops, eateries and information.
See my other tip for more on the actual exhibits
The British Museum was very close to our London hotel, and was on my "Must See" list for London. I wanted to see the Rosetta Stone, so I told my husband, who is not a big museum-goer, that we would be there 45-minutes - just long enough to see the Stone. I really need to stop making promises I can't keep...
The British Museum is quite large and covers several floors. Immediately upon entry, I found myself wandering among the Islamic treasures, which was so beautiful. My husband reminded me of the purpose for our visit, so I removed myself and went about finding the Rosetta Stone. We climbed to the 4th floor (couldn't find the elevator...) and found - mummies! So many mummies! At this point, my husband was hooked! The sheer volume of the Egyptian antiquities is enough to entertain you for several hours. In fact, we spent more than an hour in this room alone!
We finally asked a guard where was the Rosetta Stone, and after climbing back down the stairs (still couldn't find the elevator!) we found it. It was larger than I had pictured it, but there it was - I thought it was awesome to behold. My husband was underwhelmed. LOL!
In all, we were here about 3 hours and covered 3 rooms. SO much more to see. Check at the information desk when you arrive - you can purchase a map of the museum for a few GBPs, and you can see the times for the guided docent tours, which are also free.
I'm not a fan of museums but once I stayed in the area, so why not? It's not as big as the Louvre in Paris but it's interesting. They had a very good Egyptian collection (probably permanent - best to check out their website for further information). I was amazed to see things that I had only seen in school books before.
The Sutton Hoo helmet, another famous artefact that I had wanted to see for a long time (from about late 1970s onwards). It was found at the Anglo-Saxon burial site at Sutton Hoo in East Anglia. 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.
I found my hotel at: http://hotels.tripescapenow.com/Place/London.htm i choose a room for two for an abordable price of 79$/ night. London is a biautifull town with many things to see. my hotel was in the old london and was not too far from the aereport. in a travel the hotels you choose can be a positif or a negatif fact in my case the hotel was positif. Thanks toTrip escape now team for helping me.
Although I am not too much of a museum person, I took the chance to visit the British Museum in August 2015. It is home to one of the most important exhibitions about human history and culture. The museum was established in the middle of the 18th century.
I must admit that due to my limited time I only got a glimpse of the ground floor, but apart from the exhibitions, also the architecture of the building is well worth seeing.
The museum is dominated by the impressive Great Court. It is a large inner courtyard with a glass panel roof surrounding the circular reading room of the museum. The current Great Court was designed by Foster and Partner and inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000.
Entrance to the museum is free, so it makes sense to at least spend some time here.
The British Museum is located in Bloomsbury, which is an area of the borough of Camden. The tube stations Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Goodge Street and Russel Square are all in walking distance to the museum.
Address: British Museum, Great Russel Street, WC1B 3DG London
Not having been to the British Museum for several decades, I at least wanted to see the changes that have been made to it in the meantime. It was only about a mile from my hotel, so I walked over via Russell Square. Later I realized that I could have also taken one of the Santander Cycles, checking one out at Belgrove Street, Kings Cross and riding a zig-zag course through quiet streets to the bike station by the museum at the corner of Montague Street and Great Russell Street. But I didn’t know that yet, and had already decided not to try out the Santander Cycles until Sunday.
Unlike most of the big London attractions, the British Museum is free, but they do suggest that you make a donation of five pounds.
Second photo: People sitting on the steps of the British Museum.
Third photo: At the start of the 21st century, the hitherto inaccessible inner courtyard of the British Museum was transformed into what they call “the largest covered public square in Europe. It is a two-acre space enclosed by a spectacular glass roof with the world-famous Reading Room at its centre.” This new space is now called the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court (or just “The Great Court” for short). It was designed by Foster and Partners, the same ones who designed the new roof of the Reichstag in Berlin, Germany.
Fourth photo: Ancient Egypt in the British Museum.
Fifth photo: Venus, the Roman goddess of love, at the British Museum. What I think of when I see a Venus statue is Gaëlle Arquez singing to Venus in Jacques Offenbach’s operetta La belle Hélène: Dis-moi, Vénus, quel plaisir trouves-tu / A faire ainsi cascader la vertu? (roughly: “Tell me, Venus, what pleasure do you get / from causing such a downfall of virtue?” because Venus had promised Paris he could have the most beautiful woman in the world, and Hélène had no doubt that she was the one).
Address: Great Russell St, London WC1B 3DG
Directions: The nearest cycle stations are shown here.
Phone: +44 (0)20 7323 8299
Next: MacDonald Hotel
The British Museum has to be one of the richest locations for must see items if you have any appreciation of history. The Rosetta stone marked in three distinct scripts that allowed scholars to unlock the language of hieroglyphics, the beautiful (and controversial) Elgin Marbles and the Sutton-Hoo treasures are just a few of the major attractions. You can spend hours or a few brief visits over time- entry is free!
My first visit goes back to the early sixties so that I have seen on my successive visits a fantastic transformation from a somewhat dusty, old fashion, museum to the present outstanding museological achievement with the Great Court.
The success of the British Museum, with 6,7 million visitors in 2013, is certainly due to the quality of its collections, of which about 50.000 items are shown over 75.000 m2 with a number of world highlights and also disputed items like the Parthenon marbles, which do attract a range of visitors interested by this controversy.
Furthermore, and not without importance, the entry is free; I have never seen queues as there is no ticket or security check. If at the opening there are people waiting at the main entrance Russell Street, there is a second entrance on the back at Montague Place.
What is also great is the fact that on the contrary of several London museums, a.o. National Gallery, taking photos is allowed here.
The facilities are convenient and there are enough lifts for less young legs like mine.
One thing I don't like are the two "court cafés" behind the "Reading Room" of the Great Court; makes me think of factory canteens. Better is the Gallery Café near the Ancient Greece rooms (11 & 12) on the Ground floor. If you have money you can go to the chic Court restaurant at level 3 (is currently undergoing a refurbishment).
Actually outside around the museum there are lot of places to eat and drink.
On my visit begin of July the crowd was huge, especially in the Egyptian sculpture halls on the Ground floor (rooms n° 4). Schools had transformed this part of the museum in a play ground. As long as Ramesses the Great does not complain about the noise …
It is well known that animals were associated with deities. The ancient Egyptians believed that their gods and goddesses could appear on earth under the form of animals.
The ibis was associated with Thoth, the hawk or falcon with Horus and cats with the goddess Bastet whose cult centre was at Bubastis in the Nile Delta.
I always liked the fact that Egyptians not only found cats a very useful company animal but associated their pet with the protective benevolent goddess Bastet, while in our middle ages cats were often associated with the devil!
The museum has a remarkable and elaborately wrapped cat mummy from Abydos dating from the 1st c. AD.
I was surprised to read from the documentation of the British museum that many of these cats did not die a natural death but that kittens were raised and killed for mummification. These cat mummies were sold to the visitors and left at the temple catacombs as offerings.
Later, cat cemeteries were plundered and there were so many that it is know that at the end of the 19th c. about 15000 kg of cat mummies were shipped from Egypt to the UK to be pulverized and processed into fertiliser!
The Parthenon Sculptures in room 18, the largest of the museum, are certainly the best known highlights of the British Museum.
In another comment I expressed my position about the controversy by the Greek government concerning the Elgin Marbles. I'm definitively in favour of a status quo and this is my position for all museums. It would be a non sense to move all artefacts back to their country of origin.
Nevertheless on each of my visits, I found the display of the sculptures in the Duveen Gallery questionable because the original perspective is ignored.
The friezes, metopes and pediment came from the upper part of the Parthenon. The Doric columns are 10 m high so that the sculptures above them stood at a height of about 12 m as you can see from the figure on my photo n°2.
The perspective was therefore quite different from the present display in room 18 at eye-level (photos 1 & 3). The Duveen Gallery is high and wide enough to recreate a perspective closer to the original one of the Parthenon.
In the next room 17 is a reconstruction of one of the sides of the Nereid monument, the largest and finest of the Lykian tombs found at Xanthos in south-west Turkey. This reconstruction of the Nereid monument shows how the perspective of the display of the Parthenon sculptures could be improved.