British Museum, London, England

British Museum exterior with tourists, London, England

The British Museum, arguably the best collection of human culture artefacts in the world. It’s free of charge, in central London.

Visiting the British Museum

This is the world’s oldest museum, begun in 1753 and embracing items of interest going back 6, 000 years. Popular attractions include spectacular works from Ancient Egypt, Assyria, Greece, Mexico, Rome, Japan, China, India, Africa. Displays include statues, carvings, indigenous art and artefacts, coins, prints and drawings.
Massive, varied, well-presented and free, the British Museum should be on any tourist list of top things to do in London.

The British Museum Great Court, London, England

The museum’s hub, the Great Court and the Reading Room.

In the centre of the Great Court is the Reading Room, home to not only some of the world’s most important books and manuscripts, but also to famous writers and thinkers such as Karl Marx (German), Mahatma Gandhi (Indian), Oscar Wilde (British), Leon Trotsky (Russian), Thomas Hardy (British), W. B Yeats (Irish), Rudyard Kipling (British).

British Museum, ancient middle east area, London, England

Part of the ancient mid-east zone.

Mummy caskets in the British Museum, London, England

Mummy caskets in the outstanding Ancient Egypt collection.

Top Attractions

Rosetta stone in the British Museum, London, England

The Rosetta Stone, Egypt, 196 BC. Next, pictures of some of British Museum top ten artefacts.

The Rosetta Stone was a stone tablet carved in 196 BC by Egyptians. It declared a new regulation at that time in both Greek and Egyptian hieroglyphics, so after it was found in 1799 it proved to be the key to unlock the secrets of Egypt’s pictorial writing.

Mummified cat in the British Museum, London, England

Mummified cats and fish from Abydos in Egypt, circa 30 BC.

Animal cults thrived in Egypt, especially around 305 BC. These sacred animals were maintained by teams of priests and carers, but were not themselves gods, merely the conduits to gods. On their death large numbers of these animals, fish and birds were embalmed before burial in catacombs.

Ram in a thicket in the British Museum, London, England

Ram in a Thicket, Great Death Pit, Ur. 2, 500 BC.

This Ram, which is actually more likely to be a goat since they’re the animals that are better at climbing trees, is made from shells and gold leaf and was created by artisans in Ur, Sumer, south Mesopotamia (now Iraq). British Museum Room 56.

The Standard of Ur in the British Museum, London, England

The Standard of Ur, 2500 BC.

The Standard is actually a hollow, decorated box, the true function of this ‘Standard’ is unknown. It was found in a royal tomb and shows scenes of both peace and war on either side, two aspects of a Sumerian king’s duties. The King is visible top left, the largest figure, attending a religious ritual banquet. Origin: Sumer, Mesopotamia (Iraq). British Museum Room 56.

The Helmet of Sutton Hoo in the British Museum, London, England

The Helmet of Sutton Hoo, England. AD 600-700.

This iron and bronze helmet was found in Sutton Hoo inside a 27m longship in the grave of a powerful Anglo Saxon warrior chieftain. It’s generally considered to be the most important Anglo Saxon find ever. It was found in a 27 metre long ship inside the grave of a warrior chief in Suffolk, southeast England, along with gold coins from the European continent and silver tableware from the Mediterranean.
The famous Anglo Saxon epic poem Beowulf was written at this time.

4 Egyptian gods, British Museum, London

Men observed by gods, or more specifically one goddess four times, Sakhmet in black granite. Created around 1400 BC and found at the Temple of Mut in Karnak, Luxor, Egypt. Egyptian gods bas relief including Sakhmet seen in Luxor.

Maya blood-letting relief in the British Museum, London, England

A blood-letting ceremony carved in limestone and found in Maya Mexico, AD 709.

This brilliant Maya relief was found on a doorway lintel in the small and abandoned Maya city-state of Yaxchilan, now on a river bordering Guatemala in south Mexico, near the better-known Palenque.
In this ritual Lady Xook pulls a rope embedded with thorns through her tongue as her husband, King Shield Jaguar III stands watching her and illuminating the scene with a blazing torch. The ritual was vital to enable the king to contact his ancestors for advice.

The British Museum exhibits hundreds of artifacts from ancient Mexico, including Maya, Mixtec and Aztec pieces.

The Parthenon marbles in the British Museum, London, England

We shouldn’t leave the British Museum without a look at the controversial Parthenon Marbles (aka Elgin Marbles), as seen above. Only 50% of the marble reliefs that once decorated the Parthenon temple on Acropolis Hill in Athens still exist, with about half of them displayed in London, England, and half in the New Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece.

The British Museum’s response to Greek demands for the return of the marble sculptures: The Parthenon sculptures in the British Museum were brought to England by Lord Elgin and bought for the museum in 1816. Elgin’s removal of the sculptures has always been a matter for discussion, but one thing is certain – his actions spared them further damage from vandalism, weathering and pollution. It is also thanks to Elgin that visitors have been able to see the sculptures at eye level rather than high up on the building.

Getting to the British Museum

The museum is slightly off the tourist track, just north of Covent Garden’s Neal Street and Shaftesbury Avenue.

– Tube. The nearest Underground station is Holborn, 500m away
– Buses. The nearest buses are 1, 7, 8, 19, 25, 38, 55, 98, 242 stopping in New Oxford Street and 10, 14, 24, 29, 73, 134, 390 stopping in Tottenham Court Road.
– Cycles. There are docking spaces for at least 35 Barclays Cycles (aka Boris Bikes) inside the museum, as well as 26 in Great Russell Street.
– Car. Don’t! Taxis, no problem of course.

Opening Hours: 10. 00 to 17. 30 daily; 10. 00 to 20. 30 Fridays.
Address: Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DG
Tel: +44 (0)20 7323 8000