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Five things you might not know about the British Museum

Britain’s most popular tourist attraction may get busy, but there’s always room to roam and a chance to expand your mind while you’re at it. It holds a few secrets too…

By Time Out editors |
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British Museum
Darrell Godliman

Tucked a couple of streets away from Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road, the British Museum is a grand old building for a grand old collection – artefacts reflecting life and culture from societies all over the world, spanning millennia of history.

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Five interesting facts about the British Museum

1

Over 120 human mummies can be found in the British Museum’s collection. Mwah-ha-ha!

2

There used to be a secret museum within the British Museum. Having been a popular visitor attraction since the Georgian period, by the time the prudish Victorians arrived on the scene, there were several items in the collection that were deemed too pornographic for public gaze. These ancient trinkets and drawings depicting sexual acts were confined to the museum’s ‘secretum’. During the twentieth century the items were dispersed into the regular collection again, and in 2013 there was a special exhibition devoted to the most sexually explicit pieces.

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3

If you’re a fan of ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ you’ll be pleased to hear that some of it really was filmed on location at the British Museum. There was a bit of poetic licence used to create some of the strange creatures that starred in the film, but you will find the winged, golden Garuda in the Hotung gallery.

4

The British Museum used to have its own tube station, on the Central London Railway (Central line) between Holborn and Tottenham Court Road stations. It’s been closed since 1933, but see if you can spot traces of its old entrance at 133 High Holborn.

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5

The Great Court is the largest covered public square in Europe. It reclaimed a space that hadn’t been used in the museum for over 100 years and reopened in 2000 with Norman Foster’s stunning design as its main focus. No two panes in the glass roof are the same.

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