The British Museum in London reopens – what to see now

The British Museum in London also reopens on  May 17th after over 3-month closure for coronavirus. The museum remains free, but you have to book before you go; they won’t let you in without a ticket. Remains open from 10 all 17 every day. Not all parts of the museum are open for the moment.

Here you can book for free.

British Museum, Great Russell Road, London

Underground: Goodge Road, Holborn, Russell Square, Tottenham Court Roadway, all in zone 1.

The museum has a second entrance in the Montague Area. 

Interesting and curious things about the British Museum

The British Museum in London owns over 14 millions items, but only 1% of them are on display at any one time. Temporary exhibitions often show ‘hidden’ objects

The British Collection inside the museum was expanded and modernized around 1850 by an Italian librarian and patriot: Sir Antonio Panizzi, regarded as the second founder of the British Gallery

Initially, the museum included in addition to the library, there are also objects of natural history, particularly rocks, fossils and stuffed animals. Due to space constraints, this section was moved to a new museum in South Kensington in 1880; thus, the Nature Gallery

The temporary exhibition on the treasures of Tutankhamun from 1972 was the most successful in UK history, with over 1. 600000 visits. It opened a new chapter in the creation and management of temporary exhibitions

At the beginning of 1900, the museum purchased and demolished well 64 neighbouring buildings to widen

The British Museum was the first public museum in the world that did not belong to the king or the church and the first advertisement to have free admission

The collection of Hans Sloane

The museum started with a collection of Sir Hans Sloane (that of Sloane Square), who was King George II’s personal physician and a scientist and collector. In August 2020, the British Museum decided to remove the statue of Sir Hans Sloane, as he had made money by cheating the slave trade.

During construction of the building that now houses the museum, the largest construction site in Europe was created

The museum was opened in 1759, located in Montagu Home, which used to be where the current museum is today. The current building dates back to 1852 and is based on the temple of Athena Polias, which is located in Turkey

The Egyptian collection is the largest in the world outside of Egypt. The famous Rosetta Stone was presented to King George III in 1802. There are various imported mummies, including the Katebet Mummy. In 1818 came the huge bust of Rameses II

6 million visitors annually

The British Museum in London has around 6 million visitors annually, one of the most visited museums globally after the Louvre and the Metropolitan Gallery in New York City.

From 1840 in the museum commissioned and financed his own archaeological excavations; his greatest discovery was undoubtedly the mausoleum of Halicarnassus. You can now see pieces from this building at the museum. Other important excavations were made at Nimrud and Nineveh.

The Museum also contains the famous Elgin marbles, removed from the Parthenon and brought to the UK by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin and British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. Every now and then, there are requests (even by British actor Stephen Fry) to give them back to Greece.

Don’t miss the statue of winged lions with human heads from the city Assyrian of Nimrud.

The collections present now reflect Great Britain’s role and its empire, but they are not all taken without permission; many objects are gifts given by foreign heads of state, collectors and others have been bought.

Until 1900, the British Museum in London also housed the British Library, which moved completely to St Pancras in 1997 and left space for the magnificent Great Court, built by Norman Foster and the largest covered square in Europe.

What to see at the British Museum?

If you don’t tour the museum for weeks or months, you will hardly be able to see everything. Too much to see in this museum.

Many visit the museum, especially to see the Egyptian section, which is rightly worth a visit. You will find many mummies, including animals, decorations found in the tomb of Nebamum and coffins. The most important piece of the museum is the Rosetta Stone which allowed to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphs. Don’t miss the huge bust of Ramses the Great, which is on the first floor.

In the section dedicated to Ancient Greece, you will see so many vases to make your head spin. You can follow the rooms from 11 to 23, which are in chronological order to get a sense of the history of Greece. In addition to those of the Parthenon, do not miss the bas-reliefs of the tomb of Shrew in Turkey.

Among the many vases and cups, look for the beautiful Sofilo vase, which is still extraordinary now and the Warren cup in the Greco-Roman section. It is aesthetically beautiful but is famous for depicting two homosexual acts. For years it could not be exposed to the public.


The rest of the ground floor of the British Museum

Here you will find many names that will remind you of school times. Bas-reliefs come from Nineve and Nimrud, to begin with, and then many Assyrian and Mesopotamian treasures. Don’t miss the King’s Lion Hunt Ashurbanipal, considered perhaps the masterpiece of Assyrian art.

Also, on the ground floor, you will find Islamic art, a lot of pottery and various ornaments. Some rooms have specific themes; one is called the Enlightenment Gallery and recalls the British Museum in London of the first paces. A collection of strange things and objects. The verse. Another one called Living and Dying houses a sculpture that comes from Easter Island.

If you go up to the first floor, you can see British and European objects and art. You will find interesting things from the Roman period in Grandmother Britain and Anglo-Saxon objects found in Sutton Hoo, including the famous helmet.

There are galleries committed to themes such as watches and money. Not only will you see hundreds of varied coins, but you will get an insight into the history of money. The gallery dedicated to watches is fascinating; there is no shortage of strange mechanical clocks and hourglasses.

Galleries from other continents

If you survived so far,  you will now still have the American galleries to see, which are in rooms 26 is 27 and cover North America’s inhabitants and Central and South. There are interesting Aztec and Mayan objects.

Near the secondary entrance to Montague Area, you will find instead the rooms committed to Asia. Huge collection of Chinese pottery that almost has 2000 pieces. The majority of these ceramics come from the private collection of Sir Percival David, which was then the largest in the world.

Look at the samurai armour in the shopping centre dedicated to Japan and the fascinating section dedicated to Korea.

The galleries devoted to Africa are located on the lower floor, not everyone ventures below, tired of seeing thousands of vases, but instead, this part is really worth it. However, we cannot forget that many of these objects were taken by force and should not be here. There are some incredible African masks and carved doors of the Yoruba royal palace.

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