British Museum
Public institution dedicated to human history, art and culture in London



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British Museum
Public institution dedicated to human history, art and culture in London
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Great Russell Street
United Kingdom

cschuster's picture

Sr. Contributor

The British Museum is everyone's favorite thing to do while on vacation in London.

It's the most popular visitor attraction in the UK. So wherever you are in England, Ireland, Scotland, or the commonwealth, you should want to be looking at all the cool stuff in the British Museum. With eight million individual things to look at in the collection, no doubt there's something in the place that will catch your eye. However, the collection draws the ire of some pretty big organizations and celebrities for still housing items that were... how do you say? Stolen. A lot of the stuff throughout the museum is cultural artifacts lifted by the British during periods of colonization. It's a big sore point that you should feel free to reflect upon while walking the institution's halls, but don't expect sunny dispositions if you decide to bring it up to museum staff or security guards.

All the stuff in there is thanks to super Sir Hans Sloane, a physician and consummate collector of ephemera and curios. He wanted his life's work to be viewed under one roof after his death, so he went the direct route to getting a museum for it all. He left the collection to King George II in exchange for its being looked after and displayed by the British government, and for a kickback of £20,000 to his heirs. The hustle worked. Parliament quickly decreed that the Sloane collection would become the basis for the British Museum. King George the Sequel felt so moved by Sloan's (nearly) selfless requests that he decided to donate the Old Royal Library to the museum...which also meant the museum could collect the sweet copyright monies off of everything in the library, putting the budget squarely in the black.

The museum also houses the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court, which happens to be the largest covered area in all of Europe. The transformation from a regular open air courtyard to covered concourse cost a whopping £100 million. The headline news out of the British Museum at the moment is that staff are creating a block-for-block recreation of the facilities and exhibitions in Minecraft. Y'know, to show the kids that museums are hip.

ldare's picture

Sr. Editor

As you might expect, the British Museum was built by British people, specifically by Sir Robert Smirke.


The British band Bastille (named after France's Bastille Day) were invited to sing their hit Pompeii in the galleries containing the Pompeii exhibit. The music video is pretty cool.


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Here is what Wikipedia says about British Museum

The British Museum, in the Bloomsbury area of London, England, is a public institution dedicated to human history, art and culture. Its permanent collection of some eight million works is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence, having been widely collected during the era of the British Empire. It documents the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present. It was the first public national museum in the world. The Museum was established in 1753, largely based on the collections of the Irish physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. It first opened to the public in 1759, in Montagu House, on the site of the current building. Its expansion over the following 250 years was largely a result of expanding British colonisation and has resulted in the creation of several branch institutions, the first being the Natural History Museum in 1881.

In 1973, the British Library Act 1972 detached the library department from the British Museum, but it continued to host the now separated British Library in the same Reading Room and building as the museum until 1997. The museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and as with all national museums in the UK it charges no admission fee, except for loan exhibitions.

Its ownership of some of its most famous objects originating in other countries is disputed and remains the subject of international controversy, most notably in the case of the Elgin Marbles of Greece, and the Rosetta Stone of Egypt.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about British Museum.