The British Museum is one of the most popular tourist destinations in London, and it’s certainly the most visited museum. It has over 8 million items on display, and there were 6.7 million visitors in 2013. With displays ranging from the prehistoric era to the present day, the collections focus on human history and how people have lived their lives. The Museum has 10 departments, including the library and archive department. Let’s go inside and see what the Museum has to offer.
Some of the most famous exhibits include the Elgin Marbles. These are a set of statues taken from the Acropolis in Athens. However, they are very controversial, as Greece argues that the British Museum bought them from the Ottoman Empire, and not the Greeks. They argue that the Ottomans had no right to sell them, and ask that they be restored to Greece, where some would be placed in the new Acropolis museum. Other famous exhibits include the Rosetta Stone, which was the stone archaeologists used to translate hieroglyphics from ancient Greek. They also have one of the Easter Island statues.
Other exhibits include a load of mummies in the Egyptian section. They even have cat and kitten mummies – weird! There are also lots of famous artworks, statues, pottery, jewellery, pieces of furniture and coins from across the ages. Some exhibits also have interactive features, so you can learn about them as you play fun games. There are also lots and lots of things taken from the Acropolis in Athens, and from hundreds of other Greek and Roman sites, so if you love that stuff and can’t make it out there then the British museum is the right place for you!
The building itself is impressive. The main entrance is built in a “Greek revival” style, which means it is styled on Ancient Greek buildings. This was built by Robert Smirke. Most of the original building took place in the Victorian era, so it’s easy to spot which parts of the building are the oldest. The part designed to hold the Elgin Marbles was built in the 1930s, hit by a bomb in the 1940s, and reopened in the 1960s. Also famous is the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court, which is a square covered by a beautiful glass roof. This was opened in 2000, designed by famous British architect Norman Foster, and it is the largest covered square in Europe. It also features in Night at the Museum 3!
The museum is in the Bloomsbury area of central London, an area known for its learning. It is where much of the University of London’s main buildings are located, and there are other museums nearby. It is easily accessible by tube, and nearby stations include Russell Square, Tottenham Court Road, Holborn and Goodge Street. There are also plenty of buses. There are lots of nice shops and restaurants nearby, so why not make a day of it? You’ll need loads of time to see the wonderful things this Museum has to offer.
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