British Museum

You cannot possibly visit London and not make a trip to any of its museums. While there are quite a few, we recommend the best museum in London, The British Museum. A treasure trove of art, culture and human history, this is a must-visit for anyone interested in mankind’s journey through time. There are over 500 years of artistic inspiration, from across the globe, for you to feast your eyes on.

Location: The British Museum is located in Great Russell Street London

Timings:

It is open all days of the week.

Daily hours: 10.00 am to 5.30 pm

Fridays: 10.00 am – 8.30 pm (only certain galleries)

The museum remains closed on 1 January, Good Friday, 24-26 December every year.

Highlights:

Seeing the museum in its entirety requires several hours, over several days. If you are on a tight schedule, you can plan your visit carefully and make sure that you don’t miss most of the important exhibits. Here are the highlights that we recommend.

Ground and lower floors

The Sloane Astrolabe (Room 1)

The astrolabe was crafted around 1300; this makes it the earliest and also the largest English astrolabe to have survived since the Middle Ages.

The Holy Thorn Reliquary (Room 2a)

This lavishly-decorated reliquary contains a single thorn that is believed to have been taken from the biblical crown of thorns.

Bust of Ramesses the Great (Room 4)

This bust of one of the greatest Egyptian pharaohs is part of a larger statue which weighs 7.5 tonnes.

The Rosetta Stone (Room 4)

You cannot leave without viewing the key that helped unlock the hieroglyphic language of ancient Egypt.

Assyrian lion hunt reliefs (Room 10)

Feast your eyes on some fine art originating from the ancient Mesopotamian city of Nineveh.

Parthenon sculptures (Room 18)

Ancient Greek sculptures carved about 2,500 years ago.

Hoa Hakananai'a (Room 24)

This statue is oftentimes called 'the finest example of Easter Island sculpture'.

Aztec serpent (Room 27)

A double-headed serpent sculpture from the 15th or 16th century made mostly of turquoise pieces.

Tang ceramic tomb figures (Room 33)

This set of 13 earthenware figures from China is believed to be from the 8th century.

Cloisonné jar with dragons (Room 33)

The enamel technique on this jar was developed in 15th-century China.

Upper floor

Mechanical galleon (Room 39)

Constructed around 1585 in southern Germany, this mechanical table ornament performed an amazing set of movements.

Lewis Chessmen (Room 40)

Don’t miss a chance to see the most famous chess pieces in the world.

The Sutton Hoo ship burial (Room 41)

These artefacts of the Sutton Hoo burial date back to 7th century Britain.

Jade terrapin (Room 43)

This beautiful terrapin, carved from a single piece of jade, was discovered at the bottom of a well.

The Hinton St Mary Mosaic (Room 49)

This artefact dates back to the 4t century and is one of the earliest surviving depictions of Christ.

Basse Yutz flagons (Room 50)

These sophisticated ceremonial drinking vessels were manufactured in the 5th century.

Mold ceremonial gold cape (Room 51)

This cape dates back to the European Bronze Age and is a fine example of prehistoric sheet-gold working.

Oxus treasure (Room 52)

Feast your eyes on these gorgeous pieces of gold and silver metalwork dating back to 5th to 3rd century BC.

The Flood Tablet (Room 55)

This tablet describes the meeting of Gilgamesh with Utnapishtim, who had been forewarned of a great flood.

Royal Game of Ur (Room 56)

A board game played in early 3rd century BC and popular across the Middle East.

Mummy of Katebet (Room 63)

This surprisingly well-preserved mummy and her accessories date back to 1300 BC.

Sphinx of Taharqo (Room 65)

This statue was discovered in Temple T at Kawa.

Samurai armour (Room 92–94)

This complete, matching set of armour was manufactured for a member of the all-powerful Mori family.

Lower floor

The Ife Head (Room 25)

This brass casting is believed to be 600 years old and depicts Ooni, the leader of the West African Kingdom of Ife.

Price: Entry to the museum is free.

Recommended for:

Whether you are an art lover or not, spending a few hours at the British Museum will be one of the best ways to spend some time when in London. This is a great way to discover world history in an interesting manner. And the best part is, that admission is free.

Interesting facts about the National Museum

A trip to the British Museum is a must for those looking for a quick trip into mankind’s past. Whether you manage to spend all the hours you need or not, here are some interesting nuggets about the museum.

  • This British Museum was established in 1753 and opened to the public on 15 January 1759.
  • The museum was originally set up to showcase the collection of Sir Hans Sloane, a physician and collector, who wished for the artefacts to last after his death.
  • The museum opened with over 400,000 books and antiques that he had collected from Greece, Rome, Egypt, the Middle East, and America.
  • The oldest artefact in the museum is a stone-chopping tool that is believed to be almost 2 million years old!
  • At any point only 1% of the museum’s collection is on display to the public, and that’s 80,000 objects!
  • Did you know British street artist Banksy once tricked the museum and they displayed his ‘Early Man Goes to Market’ in their Roman Britain collection?
  • The museum has collaborated with Google to store images and information of about 2 million objects online.
  • The Rosetta Stone is of granite and weighs about 760 kilograms
  • During WW II precious artefacts, such as the Rosetta Stone, were shifted to secret locations for their safety.
  • The British Museum is the world’s largest and it covers over 92,000 square metres.
  • When the ‘Treasures of Tutankhamun’ was opened in 1972, almost 1.7 million visitors saw the temporary exhibition. This is the most successful exhibit ever in British history.
  • All the marble sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens have been removed and brought to the Acropolis Museum and other museums around Europe for their conservation.
  • The only surviving life-sized cartoon by Michelangelo, ‘Epifania’, is at the British Museum.
  • Every year over 5 million visitors walk through the corridors of the museum, making it the third most visited museum in the world. Did you know that the Louvre in Paris and New York’s Metropolitan Museum are the contenders for the top two spots?
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