London’s busy home for ancient finds and cultural treasures from across the centuries, discovered across the world
When the British Museum was opened in 1759 it was the first national museum to be open to the public anywhere in the world. It was free to visit (and still is) so that any ‘studious and curious persons’ could pass through its doors and look upon the strange objects collected from all over the globe.
Centuries before television, this was a chance for anyone to stand in front of specimens and antiquities and connect with other cultures, ancient and contemporary. The first exhibits consisted of the collection of physician and naturalist Sir Hans Sloane – ancient coins and medals, books and natural remains – and through the centuries since, it has become home to the most significant finds made by British explorers at home and abroad, like the Rosetta Stone from Ancient Egypt and the Parthenon sculpture from the Acropolis in Athens.
In recent years there have been campaigns by other nations who want some of their historic treasures returned. (The issue over who has a legal right to the Elgin Marbles was most recently taken up on behalf of Greece by Amal Clooney.) However, the British Museum remains one of the world’s most popular attractions, with six million visitors a year. And although many of its priceless artefacts are protected by glass cases, the museum is anything but a hushed old resting place.
As soon as you walk into the magnificent glass-roofed Great Court you can hear the buzz of students, tourists and Londoners who have just popped in for lunch among the treasures. The British Museum is a working organisation carrying out research and conservation and that’s reflected in the breadth of the collection and the way in which it’s displayed.
The galleries are divided by location and periods in history – Ancient Iran, Greece, China from 5000BC onwards, Roman Britain and so on – and if you’re overwhelmed by the choice, follow one of the free 20-minute spotlight tours led by the guides every Friday, or check one of the free exhibitions dedicated to a specific theme or works of art. There are daily free activities for kids, too, including crafts, activity trails and digital workshops – perfect when there’s a homework project that needs to be fired by inspiration.
|Venue name:||British Museum||Contact:|
44 Great Russell St
|Opening hours:||Open daily 10am–5.30pm, Friday until 8.30pm. Closed Jan 1, Dec 24–26|
|Transport:||Tube: Tottenham Court Rd/Holborn/Russell Square|
|Price:||Free (permanent collection); admission charge applies for some temporary exhibitions|
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Light, Time, Legacy: Francis Towne’s Watercolours of Rome
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Hoards: the Hidden History of Ancient Britain
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Sicily: Culture and Conquest
There's a whole lot more to Sicily than the Mafia, and this exhibition aims to give a potted history of the island through its display of jewellery, coinage, documents, statues and a fair few pots. As it turns out, Italy's sunny little southern addendum...Exhibitions Friday May 6 2016 - Friday August 12 2016Read more
Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds
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Music Of Sicily
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Faiths In Tune: London Interfaith Music Festival
Music may have been Jimi Hendrix's religion, but for the acts playing at this free all-dayer the link's a bit more literal than that. Now in its fifth year, the Interfaith Music Festival is a celebration of the music of all the major faiths in London,...Folk, country and blues Sunday May 22 2016 FreeRead more
Average User Rating
4.8 / 5
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me and my 5 year old love the British museum, because it is for all ages, also it's free. which is great for us. I am a single mum, so I am always trying to find places to visit, because I don't have the money to go to some of the places that charge. I have love going to the museum ever since my primary school took me. the British museum Is great to look round and also fun and educated my daughter, a great place to learn. keep up the great work British museum.
The British Museum is a fantastic place to lose yourself for an afternoon -- it's like going on a trip around the world… and its wonderful that it is free and accessible to all. They also put on great events related to their special exhibits. My favorite so far was the Day of the Dead event they had with dancers on stilts performing.
I had always wanted to go to this museum so planned this day during a short stopover in London. I spent the better part of the day there and would go back given a chance. I Egyptian time and did not have time to savor the collection. It was wonderful. I lunched there to save time and would definitely recommend doing that. Very good and a quiet stop for rest without leaving.
Wonderful museum! I have been many times now and always manage to see something new each time. A lot of amazing things to see for free, the paid exhibitions are always well worth it too. The building itself is also well worth a visit.
When I was at school I studied Classics. On more than one occasion I was "dragged" to The British Museum. This
morning (some 30 years later) I almost skipped in glorious autumn sunshine into that same building. I was headed for Egypt: Faith after the Pharaohs.
It's a pretty small but totally satisfying exhibition. Beautifully laid out , it makes the subject matter accessible. Fascinating exhibits are accompanied by an excellent short video that puts the whole thing into context and in some ways summarises what you are about to see. Before leaving I also took in the Silver and Goldpoint exhibition in the drawings gallery , which involved a walk through the amazing collection of Egyptian mummies.
As I stepped bak out into Bloomsbury I thought how lucky I am to be a Londoner and have this treasure trove on my doorstep.
Love the space of British Museum - absolutely stunning as you walk in and also in a lovely area tucked away from the main roads.
It's always fun to go to the British Museum.
I like to come in, look at the map and decide what part of human history I want to explore. One could argue it's a bit like taking a time machine :)
It's a very fascinating place. A museum easy for all to enjoy and one that is best visited several times, with one new area explored each time.
Some personal favourite include classics such as Egypt and Greece.
Often special exhibitions are hosted that are well worth seeing. I particularly enjoyed an exhibition of Michelangelo’s drawing work a few years ago.
Many of the most amazing objects in the history of the world are to be found hear. Its impossible to see the hole thing in one day. Its defiantly worth getting away from some of the most famous parts so you can experience the huge breadth of this museum in a bit of peace.
I have been to the British Museum several times, at least twenty visits, but there is always more to discover. My first trip was to the Egyptian gallery. I never forgot the wall hangings, the papyrus, the mummies and the jewellery. The other beautiful exhibit that I remember, even now, many years later, was a Sumerian headdress with exquisite gold leaves. Then there were the Native American exhibits, the massive Assyrian sculptures, the illuminated manuscripts, the French coins and miniatures, the Greek statues - and these were but a few of the most striking exhibits. Later I discovered the African masks and the Asian gallery. Recently, I came to the museum in December, and did not go into the Ming exhibition, but found some Ming pieces to see for free in the Asian collection. That collection is not to be missed. There are Hindu, Jain and Buddhist statues and some Ming jewellery and pottery. It was interesting to note that the Ming ladies headdress was an intricate one, made of gold leaves, like the Sumerian headdress I spoke of. I feel as if I have only scratched the surface of this fantastic place, and my ambition is to see more of the collection. I want to spend several days in the museum and really see everything there is to see. It gives an idea of the scope of the collection if I say that, as a reasonably fit person, I am obliged to sit down on one of the may seats available and take three or four rests during the course of each of my visits. It really is so vast. I have never been to the Reading room, that housed so many famous philosophers and writers, during the day. I would certainly love to.
There are many impressive places in London, but this is truly incredible. And it is free.
The British Museum is the perfect day out for the whole family. The exhibitions are all interesting and there is lots of fun things to do for kids. It's a definite must for anyone visiting London. And it's great that it has free entry, meaning that it us accessible to all!
I love The British museum. There is always so much to see. I really enjoy the guided tour at the Chinese art section last time. The guided was a good speaker. Very informative, funny ad interesting. Lovely place to visit.
Simply one of the best museums in the world giving visitors a tour through man's history and culture. And free except for the special exhibitions.
The café in the old British Library building is great too!
This was the first museum my son (who lives in LOndon) took me when I visited. It's an amazing space with great collections and English history that gives the viewer so much more than reading a history book!
Great for a day out. Wear comfy shoes though. Lots for everyone. My must see section is the Egyptian mummies.
On each visit to London, I have dropped into the British Museum. Its the most wonderful building, full of fabulous items of history and interest. Far too large to do in one visit. Brilliant.And free !
The world famous British Museum is an absolute icon. As a frequent visitor to BM I had chance to see many great exhibitions and travel in time and space with a ticket for London bus. Past exhibition called "Life and death in Pompeii" was beautifully arranged and let to get into life of real, ancient people who experienced the eruption of the Vesuvius. The building and the Great Court with its spanned roof its worth visit on its own. BM organizes lot of activities for the children which makes it a great place to visit for families, art lovers, travelers and discoverers
regularly absorbed and enthralled by the BM `s beautifully presented major exhibitions, My absolute favourite of the BM`s more recent offering was Grayson Perry`s In my view it was a stroke of genius to give the artist the opportunity to compose his own explications for each exhibit which provided the viewer with an intimate understanding of his work , his his genius and his great humanity. I became and remain a huge fan of Grayson Perry, his work and his approach to life. Whilst he is a living exemplar of great art and craftmanship, the BM is to be congratulated on its similar approach currently to its major exhibitions. Long may it continue! If only the BM would upgrade its groundfloor catering enterprise from the existing souless tasteless comfortless token offer and compete effectively in this respect with the rest of London`s main museum and gallery circuit, it would in my opinion put a mark of perfection on its offer as a top cultural visitor attraction
This is one of my favorites museum! Spending the day here it is always a chance to revive old exhibitions and to see new ones and also discovering a little bit more of different cultures and civilizations. Every time i go there it is a well spend day.
Could spend hours upon hours here as the museum is vast and constantly changing. The free tours are an absolute treat, the exhibits are fascinating, and the experience overall is brilliant. Something everyone should enjoy.
Just absolutely amazing. Suggesting to go on weekdays rather than weekend and the free tours are worth to try. Loved the money exhibition where you can touch different objects. A great program and can't be bored even if you are going alone.
This is one of my favourite museums in London. I love the permanent Ancient Egypt exhibition in particular. If I am ever in the area and have even half an hour to spare I pop into this exhibition, but there is so much to see here. Most of the museum is free to explore. It's only special exhibits that normally include a charge to see. The main foyer is stunning as well, as are the many excellent special exhibitions. If you are interested in any of the special exhibitions make sure to book as early as you can as I have missed out on some because of their popularity.