Great Museums of the World – The British Museum

With over seven million objects in its collection The British Museum is truly one of the great museums of the world.  The museum was first established in 1753 and is a museum of human history and culture.

The museum is home to the Elgin Marbles which is a collection of classical Greek marble statues which were once part of the Parthenon and other buildings which form the Acropolis in Athens.  These statues were filched by the Earl of Elgin in the early 19th century and the Greek Government has been unsuccessfully trying to have them returned ever since.

The Elgin Marbles aside, the British Museum does also carry a marvellous collection of ancient antiquities from Egypt and Sudan, which is the second most comprehensive collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts outside of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Egypt is seeking the return of the Rosetta Stone, which contained the key to understanding the ancient Egyptian written language, hieroglyphics.  The Rosetta Stone was originally taken from Egypt by the French, but captured by Britain during the Napoleonic Wars.

Ancient Rome is also well represented within the collection, as well as objects from ancient Mesopotamia, Assyria, Babylon, Sumer, Nimrud and Nineveh.

In fact, the museum holds relics from all over the world, although not all are on display.  What is on display is, however, very impressive.

The British Museum is not the sort of place you enter for a quick glance as there is simply so much to see.

One of the best ways to appreciate the collections is to join s free tour, which take place every day in most of the galleries.  If you have a particular interest in any region of the world or any particular era in human history you can usually find a tour during which an expert will guide you around a hall, and explain the significance of many of the objects on display.

In addition to the permanent displays the museum holds special exhibitions, and Room 2 is changed quite often so there is usually a surprise there form regular museum visitors.    

The British Museum is located on Great Russell Street, London.  There are four London Underground stations nearby, from closest to furthest proximity there are: Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Russell Square and Goodge Street.   There are many London buses which stop near the Museum.

The Museum is open daily between 10am and 5.30pm (and until 8.s0pm on Fridays) and admission is free.

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