The British Museum in London is one of the oldest and largest museums in the world. It has been open to the public since 1759 and is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. The museum houses a vast collection of artefacts from around the world, spanning over two million years of human history.
The British Museum was founded in 1753 by the Irish physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. He bequeathed his collection of 71,000 artefacts to King George II, who in turn established the museum with the intention of making it available to the public. The museum opened its doors in 1759 and has grown exponentially since then, with over 8 million artefacts now in its collection.
The British Museum’s collections are divided into eight main departments: Ancient Egypt and Sudan, Greece and Rome, Asia, Prints and Drawings, Coins and Medals, Africa, Oceania and the Americas. Each department has its own specialist staff, research facilities and exhibitions. The museum’s highlights include the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures, the mummies of Ancient Egypt and the world’s largest collection of Chinese ceramics.
The British Museum hosts a variety of permanent and temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Its permanent exhibitions include the Enlightenment Gallery, which explores the impact of the scientific revolution on European culture, and the Ancient Greece and Rome Gallery, which houses a vast collection of artefacts from the classical world. The museum also hosts a range of special exhibitions, such as the current ‘Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum’ and ‘The First Emperor: China’s Terracotta Army’.
The British Museum offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages. These include lectures, guided tours, family activities, hands-on workshops and film screenings. The museum also has a number of restaurants, cafes and shops, as well as a library and study centre.
Admission to the British Museum is free. The museum is open every day except for 24, 25 and 26 December. It is located in the heart of London and can be reached easily by public transport.