What started out as a 'cabinet of curiosities' is now home to nearly eight million artefacts, collected from around the world.
Originally established to house the collections bequeathed by well-to-do Brits who explored the world at the peak of the British Empire, the British Museum has grown through the years to become a monument to humanity itself. It contains as many as eight million artefacts brought from every continent. There’s so much to explore here, it’s impossible to fit everything in in a single day – but it still has plenty to offer visitors with only a couple of hours to spare.
Every year, around six million visitors walk up the grand steps and through the 44 neoclassical columns that lead into the museum’s Great Court. Ever since it was established back in the 1750s, the British Museum has remained the UK’s most popular museum. The museum’s exhibits are arranged geographically. You can see legendary relics like the Easter Island statue and the Elgin Marbles. The famous Rosetta Stone is also housed here, as is the Head of Ramesses. The Reading Room, once the main reading room of the British library, where Karl Marx worked on the famous ‘Communist Manifesto’ is a fascinating place to visit.
As well as its famed exhibits, don’t miss some of the quieter spots that celebrate civilizations across the world. The museum regularly hosts object-handling sessions, for which you don’t even need to book a place; just drop in at the right time and you’ll find staff on hand, ready to answer your questions.
If you don’t have much time to spare, join one of the free 30- to 40-minute daily eyeOpener tours, which are available throughout the day. If you have children with you, there are plenty of events held specifically with younger visitors in mind. Around the museum, you’ll also find plenty of cafés and picnic spots in which to grab a bite to eat.
Located near Bloomsbury Gardens and Russell Square Gardens, the British Museum is easy to reach by Underground if you alight at Tottenham Court Road, Holborn or Russell Square. The museum is open all year round, apart from December 24th, 25th and 26th, and New Year’s Day.