The British Museum
The entire cultural history of mankind in a single museum, 8 million objects from a period of 5,000 years, 350,000 books: no other institution has collected more cultural treasures than the British Museum in London's West End.
- The oldest museum in the world
- The world famous highlights
- Interesting things off the beaten track
- Art you can touch
- The way to the British Museum
- Museum Information
The oldest museum in the world
It was founded as early as 1753 and is therefore considered the oldest continuously existing museum in the world. More than 5 million visitors a year ensure another record and make the British Museum the world’s most popular cultural meeting place. A visit to this grandiose museum should definitely be part of a comprehensive trip to London. While you would have to spend weeks there to view all the exhibits, it is also enough to plan a morning or afternoon for the visit.
The world famous highlights
First of all, the classicist museum building with its imposing columned façade impresses every visitor. Inside, you will be completely overwhelmed when you enter the Great Court. This huge space with 8,000 square meters is the largest glass-roofed courtyard in Europe. It was only built in 2000 and, despite its modern elements, blends harmoniously with the historic ambience.
The most famous and most visited exhibit is the Rosetta Stone. It is part of a broken stele, on which a text, always the same, was engraved in three different languages and scripts. With the help of the Rosetta Stone it was possible for the first time to decipher the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Equally famous are the Elgin Marbles, historically and art-historically significant marble sculptures and architectural elements once brought to England from the Acropolis, the landmark of Greece’s capital city of Athens. These include long sections of the frieze that originally adorned the gable ends of the Partheon Temple there, and which are extremely impressively presented in the British Museum.
Extensive and very detailed is the Egyptian section of the British Museum. Many thousand year old mummies, magnificently decorated sarcophagi and countless burial objects are the focus of the largest collection of Egyptian antiquities outside of Egypt.
Interesting things off the beaten track
In addition to the big attractions, the British Museum also has “small” exhibitions that are less spectacular, but still well worth seeing.
The Oxus Treasure in Room 52 contains beautiful gold and silver objects from around 550 B.C. The most beautiful object is an immensely detailed horse and chariot sculpture. The treasure was found on the Oxus River in what is now Uzbekistan.
The gigantic Hoa Hakananai’a statue in Room 24 comes from Easter Island in the southern Pacific. The four-ton colossus made of volcanic stone fascinates not only by its size, but also by its mysterious and exotic facial expressions.
At the center of the African collection in Room 25 are the decorative wall panels of the Royal Palace of Benin. They date from the 16th century. Impressive and also a bit depressing is the “Tree of Live,” a contemporary sculpture made of many hundreds of rusted weapons from the numerous civil wars in the region.
Art you can touch
In some sections of the Britsh Museum, it is also possible to take the exhibited objects in your hands and engage with them intensively. Friendly museum staff help and provide interesting details about the origin and creation of the artworks. This is particularly exciting in the Money Gallery in Room 68, where the significance of coins and other means of payment is presented throughout their 4,000-year history.
The way to the British Museum
The museum is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm and on Fridays you can even stay there until 8:30 pm. The entrance is free. The British Museum is a crowd puller and especially on weekends there can be long waits to get in. The most convenient times to visit are early mornings on work days. The most conveniently located subway station is Holborn. It is about half a kilometer from the main entrance of the museum.