British Museum

  • Museums
  • History
92 Love It
© The Trustees of the British Museum
The Main atrium © Trustees of the British Museum
Ancient Lives © Trustees of the British Museum
Sarcophagus of Nubkheperre © Britta Jaschinski / Time Out
Egyptian statues © Britta Jaschinski / Time Out
Coin with Head of Alexander the Great © Trustees of British Museum
Oxus Chariot Model (500 - 300 BC) © Trustees of British Museum
Sutton Hoo helmet (7th Century) © Trustees of British Museum
Benugo cafe inside British Museum
Benugo cafe outside the British Museum
Bloomsbury Free

One of the world's oldest museums, the British Museum is vast and its collections, only a fraction of which can be on public display at any one time, comprise millions of objects. First-time visitors generally head for the mummies, the Rosetta Stone, Lindow Man, the Lewis Chessmen and the Sutton Hoo ship burial.

Indeed, the Sutton Hoo finds provide the centrepiece for the new Sir Paul and Lady Jill Ruddock Gallery (Room 41), designed to display the museum's exceptional early medieval collection. Covering finds from across Europe from AD 300 to 1100, the Ruddock Gallery shows off not only the Anglo-Saxons' iconic Sutton Hoo masked helmet, but also late Roman mosaics and such extraordinary objects as the fourth-century Lycurgus Cup, made to change colour in different lights, and the Kells Crozier, a holy yew wood staff decorated and adapted many times from the ninth century onwards.

Enlightenment: Discovering the World in the eighteenth century is a permanent exhibition of around 5,000 objects chosen to cast light on the period between the mid-eighteenth and the early nineteenth century, a time of great discovery and learning when the British Museum was founded by an Act of Parliament. It is displayed in the restored former King’s Library – a huge neo-classical room built in the 1820s to house the books collected by George III.

Living and Dying, a permanent exhibition in the Wellcome Trust Gallery, explores the ways in which people throughout history have diagnosed and treated disease and coped with death. The exhibition considers attitudes towards burial, mourning and festivals for the dead and features an installation on Western approaches to illness. The first galleries to open as part of the BM's programme of refurbishment are a new gallery of Ancient Iran, featuring masterpieces from the Persian Empire, and a gallery focused on the prehistory of Europe and the Middle East, examining the fundamental changes to human society brought about by the birth of agriculture.

The Great Court is a vast and beautiful covered piazza, designed by Foster and Partners, surrounding the free reference library in former Round Reading Room.

Read our guide to the British Museum's best exhibits or see more of London's best museums

Venue name: British Museum
Address: 44 Great Russell St
Opening hours: Daily 10am-5.30pm; Fri 10am-8.30pm (selected galleries only, ring for details)
Transport: Tube: Tottenham Court Rd/Holborn/Russell Square
Price: Free (permanent collection); admission charge applies for some temporary exhibitions
Do you own this business?
  • Time Out says
    • 3 out of 5 stars
    With past achievements including the ‘Toy Story’ trilogy, ‘Finding Nemo’ and ‘Wall-E’, Pixar has pushed the envelope for digital animation so many times that there’s a tiny bit of disappointment involved when its latest offering turns out to be me...
    Read more
  • Alongside A Canterbury Tale, Powell's most eloquent tribute to the mysteries of the British landscape. Hiller is the headstrong young girl who travels to Scotland to marry a wealthy but elderly man, only to be confused and distracted by the presen...
    Read more

Pick a date

  • Exhibitions Until Sunday February 7 2016
    Read more
  • Until Sunday January 31 2016
    Read more
  • Drawing and illustration Until Sunday December 6 2015
    Read more

Average User Rating

4.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:115
  • 4 star:28
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
4 people listening
Theresa Bastin
2 of 2 found helpful

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.

A Marston
1 of 1 found helpful

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.

The Man on the Street

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. 

Christopher M
Staff Writer

Once again you need a few days to see everything. If you wanted the next best thing to owning a time machine, this is it. A great way to spend a weekend day. 


This has to be my favourite museum in London. Architecturally is beautiful, open and airy. My favourite part is egyptian part, mummies and swords! Amazing. Great for a diferent kind of date , rainy days or when you feel culturaly deprived.

Richard N

Don't you love the beautiful ceiling when it's sunny out? It's so easy to get lost in this museum, so full of history (not necessarily British history though) and there's always something new to check out. The special exhibitions are always interesting, and the rare artefacts here truly are worthy of inspiration of a thousand art pieces. 


Although I've been living in London for over two years now, I only just took my first ever visit to the British museum a couple of weeks ago and what a total treasure trove I've been missing out on! I feel this is the type of museum I could visit like ten times before I'd even seen all the rooms, let alone started to pay anything much attention! As a massive fan of Egyptian stuff, I can totally confirm that the Egyptian room here does live up to everything anyone has ever said about it!

karen f

Love the space of British Museum - absolutely stunning as you walk in and also in a lovely area tucked away from the main roads.

Staff Writer

Lovely museum you can visit over and over again and see something new each time. Nice to just walk around and sketch

Kritt N

It's one of the oldest museum in the world with a collection so vast, only a fraction can be displayed at the museum at one given time. It's a big museum so it can take an entire morning or afternoon to explore everything. It covers everything right  from the early human settlers right through to the modern day.

From the millions of objects on display at the British Museum, the key highlights for me has always been the Rosetta Stone, the Mummies in Ancient Egyptian and medieval Japan where you get to see a replica of a small Japanese house.

Many of the artifacts on display are collected from countries and culture from around the globe and keep your eyes peeled for special but temporary exhibitions during  different seasons. These aren't free but missing out these exhibitions won't detract from your enjoyment at all. 

The British Museum never ceases to amaze me and I've been visiting this museum ever since I was a child. It's free, it's educational and a great fun day for the family. 


I absolutely LOVE the British Museum, definitely one of the best museums I have ever been to. I have been dozens of times and I honestly enjoy every visit. 

My most recent visit was with my dad, sisters and my Nan. We even made packed lunch which we ate in the breathtakingly beautiful main Hall. The museum is suitable for all ages and there really is something for everyone. 

I have traveled down in my 1 hour lunch to explore Ancient Egypt, because I cannot get enough of this magical place! But, you really need to spend all day to see everything. An easy day out, fun fueled, free, educational and truly magnificent.

Ever since my first visit back when I was in Primary school the British Museum has always been a leader on my 'Things to Do in London' list and I genuinely do not think that will change.


Thomas F

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.

NakedPRGirl Claire

Holy moly this is a great museum. Don't think you can spin round it in a couple of hours, for this bad boy, you'll need a full day. It's nestled in the most unsuspecting place just off Tottenham Court Road and its superb. I must confess I never quite managed to make my way all the way around it, but the rooms I did see were magnificent with particular mention of the Rosetta Stone and the Egyptian Rooms. And all free. I need to go back, immediately.

Jason T
Staff Writer

So much to see, so little time

Still my favourite museum in London, immersive, educational and FREE! I keep going back time and time again, never boring always captivating.

You don't need to be a tourist to enjoy it, a must see when in the London.

Simon C
Staff Writer

I love the British Museum, from the amazing exhibits through to the beautiful architecture. It is a serious museum of course, with the most incredible exhibits from across the centuries, the range is good enough to satisfy any school curriculum and beyond. Personally, I enjoy just popping in, meet a friend or colleague for coffee in the Grand Hall, indulging the atmosphere and architecture. Yes, it is touristy, but you can lose yourself immersed in the culture that prevails. Very pleasant, a special and magical place.


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. 

Staff Writer

A stalwart in museums. Yes it is a huge tourist attraction, but like all of London's museums it has to be visited whether a local or tourist. Amazing place to loose yourself. 

Mary H

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.

elizabeth f

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!

Victoria A

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.

Steven M

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!

Lisa J

So much to see and so little time. This place will require multiple visits to do it justice!!

carole g

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!

Colette S

Great for a day out. Wear comfy shoes though. Lots for everyone. My must see section is the Egyptian mummies.

Fiona R

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 !

sebastian sasiadek

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

Christine Kerr

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


Very well laid out. Easy to navigate with concise and relevant detail.

N. Colaco

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.

George A

Lovely museum.. Fantastic day out, and lovely staff.. One of the best in London, love it :)

svetlana solomonova

British museum is an amazing place where you can find something for averyone. It is certainly worht special visit, but also nipping in when you have a spare couple of hours is great!

Anna Goedeke

I love the British Museum, it's one of the most fascinating museums I've ever entered! I have been there 4 times now and still haven't seen everything, that's how big it is. Will definately go again!

Melanie Randle

There are not many places now where you can go as a family, have fun, learn and all for free! That is why the British Museum is great. There is always something that relates to what the children are learning at school. A great outing for all ages!


The special exhibitions are always amazing and life-affirming. Grayson Perry, Ice Age, Shunga, Pompeii have all been incredible. If you're under 26, you can join via direct debit for £35, which means you get the special exhibitions for free and you never have to queue. Joint membership is even cheaper, if you live with someone, and you get two separate cards so you don't have to go in together!

David Taylor

Great place if you go very early otherwise you'll have to put up with hordes of tourists especially at the popular exhibitions. The central domed ceiling architecture is a nice place to dawdle and watch the hordes of culture vultures and the two cafes at the back of the hall have great food, bit expensive but it is central london after all! The off the beaten track non hyped exhibitions are the place to be as there are plenty and very varied too: so there's lots to see and educate yourself with.

Giacinta Galati-Rando

I really enjoyed some parts of the British Museum like the animal history and the egyptian exhibit. Fantastic if you are interested in Egypt and you can see the Rosetta Stone which is kept here. Recommend for a free tourist attraction!


It's lovely how it covers a little bit of history from nearly everywhere, allowing the viewers to leave with quite a lot more knowledge than upon entrance. Unfortunately, it can be a bit overwhelming as well.

Parul Bhargava

I went to the British Museum this Sunday , 11 AM , 29th Dec 2013 . It was such a great experience . The museum is free of cost . However ,some of the exhibits are paid . The museum is really huge so it is not possible to cover the entire museum in a day . It is advisable to select the sections one is interested in . I went for the Egypt History - Mummies and Roman History . The sections were very informative and detailed . This is a must visit . Also the museum has many souvenir / collection shops providing options to the visitors to buy . They also have places to eat throughout the museum . Must see . Rate 4 stars .

Show More