The British Museum
Based in the Bloomsbury area of London, the British Museum is solid in its dedication to human history, culture and art. It is one of the most popular attractions in the world with over six million visitors in a year. Its collection is so expansive that only a fraction of it could be exhibited at a given point of time. Home to numerous cultural treasures and ancient discoveries, the entire collection includes over a million exhibits, many of which are protected securely in glass cases.
History of the Museum
The British Museum opened for exhibition in 1753 and it was among the very first national museums anywhere in the world. It is the largest museum in London and one of the oldest in the world. Its first exhibits were items from the collection of the famous naturalist, Sir Hans Sloane. These items included ancient coins, books, medals and natural remains. The museum also became famous for the Parthenon Sculptures from Acropolis in Athens. It holds informative galleries from Greece, Egypt, Etruscan, Rome, Europe and the Middle East.
The Grand Enlightenment Gallery was one of the first sections of the remodelled museum in the 1820s. The Great Court, with its stunning glass and steel roof was restored in 2000 by Norman Foster. It is one of the most exquisite architectural spaces in London. There is a Reading Room in its centre which has a golden blue domed ceiling that is made of papier mache. Karl Marx did the majority of his research in this Reading Room before embarking on `Das Kapital’.
Highlights at the British Museum
The section devoted to the Egyptian mummies is very popular. Other interesting attractions within the museum are the Lewis Chessmen, the Sutton Hoo Ship Burial, the Lindow Man and the Rosetta Stone from Ancient Egypt. The Lindow Man was slain ritually and this tableau dates back to the first century. He was unearthed from a Cheshire bog in 1984 by archaeologists. The Rosetta Stone, discovered in 1799, is considered the crucial key for deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics.
The Parthenon Sculptures were actually acquired by Lord Elgin who was a British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. Other highlights include the Winged Bulls from Khorasabad. There are some stunning fragments from the Mausoleum of Halikarnassos, which is the same room that exhibits one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Highlights on the ground floor also include the Statue of Ramasses II, a colossal structure, which dates back to 1270 B.C. and weighs more than 7 tons. The Living and Dying exhibit explores the harsh realities of life over the ages and how humanity has dealt with them. The main entrance to the museum from Great Russell Street displays architecture of the neoclassical period in its exterior.
Daily Gallery Talks and Eye Opener Tours
British Museum arranges daily gallery talks that are free of charge. There are 15 free 30 minute tours that are eye openers on specific galleries every day. A highlights tour is also conducted every day for a small fee.