British Museum

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British Museum

 Distance from hotel: 3.5 miles (About 7 minutes)
 Hours of operation: Sat–Wed - 10:00 to 17:30, Thur-Fri - 10:00 to 20:30
 Cost: Free except for special exhibitions
 Included with tour: No



  The British Museum is one of the world's largest and most important museums of ancient history. It was established in 1753 and was based largely on the collections of the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. Its first home was Montagu House which was purchased by the British government for £20,000, which was later replaced with new buildings on the same site. The museum opened to the public on January 15, 1759.

The museum is home to six million objects covering the story of human culture from its beginning to the present. Many of the artifacts are stored underneath the museum due to lack of space. The present chairman is Sir John Boyd and its director is Neil MacGregor.

The Queen Elizabeth II Great Court is a covered square at the centre of the British Museum designed by the architects Foster and Partners. The Great Court opened in December 2000 and is the largest covered square in Europe. The roof is a glass and steel construction with 1,656 pairs of uniquely shaped glass panes. At the centre of the Great Court is the Reading Room vacated by the British Library. The Reading Room is open to any member of the public who wishes to read there.

The British Museum has never charged an admission fee, except during a period of a few months in 1972; however some temporary special exhibitions, within but separate from the main museum, do charge. During 2002 it had been suffering serious financial difficulties and was even closed for a day when its staff protested about proposed redundancies. A few weeks later the theft of a small Greek statue was blamed on lack of security staff.

The British Museum Reading Room used to be part of the British Library. Its functions have now been moved to the new British Library building.



- The Elgin Marbles, carvings from the Athenian Parthenon
- The Portland Vase
- The Rosetta Stone
- The Stein collection from Central Asia
- The Clock Room
- Works by Albrecht Dürer: 1 volume of sketches and 4 volumes of manuscripts
- Egyptian Mummies
- The Benin Bronzes
- Artifacts from the Sutton Hoo burial
- The echo in the reading room, which Gerard Hoffnung recommended