An article a few years ago, in The Times newspaper (UK) claimed that the British Museum was the second best museum in the world (after the Smithsonian in DC, USA). A few other publications put it a bit further down the list, but it is pretty much in the Top Ten, if not the the Top Five, in most publications. It is also one of the oldest in the world and at any given time, just a fraction of its collection is on display. The picture at the top is of the Great Court within the museum which was recently done up. This spacious area houses a coffee shop and gift shop.
The main problem with the museum is its vastness, it is easy to miss something or get museum-fatigue before you have seen what you came to see. I would recommend choosing a few collections of personal interest beforehand, or picking up the free leaflet and checking out some recommended highlights which will take you around parts of the museum.
I did the latter and whilst not always blown away by their choices, I often spotted other interesting pieces that I may not have done, on my route around, such as a stunning 1901 Tiffany cash register. It is too easy to wander around aimlessly and get tired, so I do recommend having a plan of some sort in place before visiting.
One popular room is the Egyptology room which has a lot of interesting artefacts and mummies from ancient Egypt and the pyramids. This is often busy and one to avoid if coming at the same time as a school party!
You can also see the controversial Elgin Marbles from ancient Greece, a small Easter Island head, a huge variety of Asian ceramics and samurai artefacts and ancient Celtic chess sets!
Britain is a funny old island. We are a multi-cultural place with very British traditions and a fascinating history mostly surrounding the various blood thirsty and treacherous monarchies over the years. We have Shakespeare, Henry VIII, fish and chips, but do we have the same level of antiquities from millennia gone by that other countries fill up museums with celebrating their creativity and engineering prowess?
Whilst the Romans were tiling their bathrooms, the Greeks were producing epic marble sculptures, the Mayans were creating calendars and predicting the end of the world and the Egyptians were building huge pyramids, we were ploughing our fields with rudimentary tools and living in huts. So, some scythes, hoes and ploughs, eh? Might make for a bit of a dull museum, especially if the meaning of the word hoe was misunderstood....
You just have to look at all the historical houses dotted about the country with rooms filled with styles and pieces from the Greek, Roman, Japanese, Egyptian cultures - basically anything that is not British. I may be being incredibly harsh on my own country, but it seems historically our modus operandi has been to steal and marvel at other nation's cultures. The British Museum for me fully encapsulates this British trait and pays homage to all the most amazing art and culture from around the world...yet whilst ignoring Britain for the best part.
The British Museum is open 10am-5:30pm every day with the exception of 24th-26th December and January 1st.
The Great Court is open Sunday - Wednesday at 9am-6pm and Thursday - Saturday at 9am-11pm.
There are also late opening times every Thursday and Friday until 8.30pm.
How to get there
The British museum is located at Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG.
If you live near the museum then buses will drop you off on New Oxford Street, Tottenham Court Road, Gower Street or Southampton Row all of which are no more than a 5 minute walk away. If you like living dangerously by cycling the streets of London then there are several bike racks provided at the museum where you can leave your bike within the safety of the museum gates.
If you live further afield or like the Tube then the closest tube stop is Tottenham Court Road and then Holborn which again are probably no more than 5 minute walks away.
The museum is in the Congestion Charging Zone and to be blunt parking is a bit rubbish around the area so unless you love the thrill of London driving I would suggest public transport/cycling as being the better and cheaper way to arrive at the museum.
The Entry Fee
Unless of course you are kind and generous and want to donate something to the cause in their many huge, plastic donation bowls strategically placed around the museum. So, for me, FREE.
The British museum is housed in a fairly impressive building that is decidedly Greek. It is a quadrangle building with four wings designed by Sir Robert Smirke and completed in 1852 to emulate the ancient Greek style. Complete with huge sweeping columns with a pediment perched atop depicting figures from the ancient world and an off-white finish it really is an awe inspiring piece of architecture.
Upon stepping inside if you go straight on in there is a further impressive sight of the Great Court which really is quite large and has a fascinating glass/steel ceiling which will probably cause a momentary pause in your gait as you take in the immensity of it all. At the centre (a mere dwarf compared to the sheer size of the court) is the Reading Room, a cylindrical free standing building, where exhibitions are held (the normal purpose for my visits) and a choice of 3 doorways to walk through to begin your exploration.
If you have never been before, and quite frankly even if you have been before, some guidance would be most helpful and if you turn immediately left upon entering the Great Court there is a small kiosk which sells maps in a multitude of languages. I believe there may have been short guides and some in-depth guides but I can't quite remember the prices, perhaps £3 for the short guide, but I do remember thinking they were a tad on the expensive side and risked going it solo...however walking around like a headless chicken is an ill-advised activity so I would recommend obtaining some kind of guide beforehand whether it be honestly or through nefarious means - it makes no odds to me.
So you're raring to go with a labyrinth of many levels below and above ground to explore, you've got your guide, a compass and a GPS tracking device so you can be located if you become hopelessly lost - the question is where do you start?
To even begin to describe the full extent of the antiquities on display at the British Museum is itself a gargantuan feat - it is, and I'm probably understating dramatically, a mind-blowingly inconceivable booty haul. Treasures from around the globe are in abundance - think of any culture or ancient lost civilisation and I can practically guarantee that you'll turn up something here to whet your appetite.
So for your exploration you can follow a plan or just wander around haphazardly depending on your mood / personality but either way you will hit upon some exquisite reminders of how the world used to be. My advice...start big and take the left doorway in the Great Court and you will immediately see the Rosetta Stone (assuming you can see it through the swarming masses) in the Egyptian sculpture room. It's fascinating to see a portion of the stone so crucial to deciphering hieroglyphics and what incredible condition it is still in. From then on there are some magnificent sights to be had with some massive fragments of heads and busts of pharaohs bigger than me and which must, unless they were bizarrely proportioned, have made up absolutely enormous statues. The thing that grabbed me about all these remnants of the past were how they had survived this long and the sheer size things were back then. Talk about your overcompensation.
Moving on from Egypt to Assyria you will pass so many captivating objects with colossal winged lion statues, enormous (replica) bronze gates from Balawat that attest to how huge the walls must have been, fascinating stories being told through wall reliefs, and then onto Greece where you'll not only get all the usual sculptures and vases but some really special objects including a slightly smaller replica of the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos. Frankly, I could go on all day detailing the entire contents of the museum but that would just spoil it for you and would probably take me a good couple of decades so here's the official Mildew82 abridged version:
On top of all the usual oldies but goodies you can get a taste of Africa, Asia, The Americas, the Middle East, Europe (with just a tiny hint of Britain...albeit Roman Britain) from dying rituals and the Afterlife to coins, sculptures, jewellery, rudimentary tools, vases, real-life (dead) mummified bodies, a stunning exhibition on clocks and watches showing the progression of engineering, some art (sometimes impressionist sometimes modern) and drawings, oh and an entire section on the Enlightenment period of 1680 to 1820 where "reason and learning" became the fad across Europe and you can see all the great stuff people used / discovered back then to help them to achieve this plane of "enlightenment". Doesn't seem to stop us killing each other though...
Phew - I hope that gives you some idea of the width and breadth of the museum and all the glorious valuables it holds. Trust me, I didn't even scratch the surface.
The British Museum constantly has special exhibitions often with travelling antiquities on display. I've been to two so far, the first was "Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler" and the second "Journey through the Afterlife: Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead". Whilst entry to the museum is free you do have to pay for these exhibitions and at the last charge it was £12 for and adult and £10 concessionary, but free if you are a member or a child accompanied by a paying adult. Both times these exhibitions were held in the Reading Room which has a whole TARDIS thing going on as it seems to magnify in size when you enter.
One thing I didn't like was the fact you got charged a whopping great fee on top of the £12 you've already stumped up if you want a handheld guide to take around with you which I declined on account of my scroogeness. Also, even though it is timed entry for these exhibitions there are always an absolute mass of people milling about so it is quite hard to see certain objects or to linger at other ones before you feel morally obliged to move on.
This aside, both of the exhibitions I've been to were excellent - getting to see some rare and valuable items up close and personal that all the non-paying patrons would never get the chance to made me a little smug but also made the experience all the more special. Learning about the Aztecs was fascinating at the time though it was well over a year ago and I have forgotten absolutely everything I learnt on that day apart from something along the lines of a unique calendar they used to measure the passing of time. My brain is the anti-sponge.
The Book of The Dead exhibition was a lot more recent and it was probably one of the best exhibitions I've ever been to. Learning all about the Egyptians beliefs back then about their Afterlife and all the challenges that faced them was fascinating - they didn't half make it hard for themselves. The Book of the Dead was basically a collection of spells that would be left with the dead and as long as they had them they could cheat their way into the afterlife (having a spell to pretend you have knowledge rather than actually having the knowledge puts a rather amusing spin on things). Some of the genuine spells on papyrus was absolutely breathtaking - the quality and colour was such that they could have been done yesterday not thousands of years ago. It's still on until 6th March 2011 so I would thoroughly recommend that one and their exhibitions in general!
Considering you are likely to be in the museum for many hours the facilities are of vital importance.
The museum caters very well for food with three cafes and a restaurant. At the Gallery Cafe on the ground floor just past the cloakroom you can get quick, hot homemade meals or light snacks both savoury and sweet. There are two Court Cafes located at the north-east and north-west corners of the Great Court and these provide quick snacks with sandwiches, salads, fruit, desserts and hot or cold drinks. They claim to have informal seating areas but this just looked like a couple of tables scattered about and certainly would be limited to a few patrons at a time.
Part way up the Reading Room in the centre of the Great Court is the Court Restaurant. This is quite a high end restaurant from the look of the menu with fancy stuff like Butternut Squash Tortelloni (£13.75), Pan Fried Scottish Halibut (£18.25), Fillet of Beef with Tarragon Sauce (£19.75) and an impressive wine list of sparkling wine, champagne, white wine, red wine, rose, sweet wine, port ranging between £15 up to £170 as well as a range of soft drinks, beers and ciders. All in all it looks like you could get a very decent meal there - but probably best to book in advance if you want to.
There is also a picnic area if you want to bring your own packed lunch and have a cheap day out. I didn't actually try any of these cafes or the restaurant as I took one look at the prices, gulped and allowed my inner scroogeness to take over once again but there's plenty of choice there for those that aren't as miserly as me.
There are also 4 shops to lure you in and seduce you into spending your hard earned money on things you probably would never have dreamed of. Firstly there is the "Bookshop" situated right by the main entrance to the left which does contain an impressive array of books devoted to the cultural history and everything that encapsulates that from all the cultures featuring in the museum including books on art, antiquities, archaeology, cooking, textiles and so on and so forth. Secondly, there is the "Culture Shop" to the right of the main entrance which features such opulent items as replica statues/busts/figurines, jewellery, scarves, ties and cufflinks, and ancient but familiar games like Mahjong. Thirdly there is the "Collections Shop" attached to the left of the Reading Room and this contains all the more commercial items you'd expect at museums such as more generic books, jigsaw puzzles, jewellery, ties, miniature figurines, mugs, coasters, pens - the novelty type of stuff that suckers you in to make a spontaneous purchase. Finally there is the "Family Shop" on the north side of the Great Court which is aimed much more at kids with plenty of games, puzzles, children's books, children's outfits such as Roman Soldiers and then some stuff for the adults like bags, purses and laptop cases.
With plenty to choose from you could easily find a souvenir to remind you of your visit - the only thing that troubled me was the price tag on the majority of things on display - a general feeling of sorrow and melancholy followed the shock at the seemingly such inflated prices which led to a distinct lack of purchases.
Toilets & Other Facilities
There are plenty of toilets dotted about all over the museum on all levels which include disabled toilets and baby changing facilities. I only used one set of toilets when I was there and they were good but not great with only a few cubicles and some broken soap dispensers, but they were very clean which is the main thing.
The museum also has a cloakroom at a charge of £1.50 per item, 50p for umbrellas and free for fold-up pushchairs and a lost property area within this cloakroom.
The British Museum hosts a mammoth collection of some of the greatest treasures still left in the world encased in a stunning building with breathtaking architecture both inside and out. Large, sweeping rooms contain visual delights of historical intrigue from around the globe touching upon so many cultures you will feel wise and worldly at the end. But despite some true marvels it's not perfect. I think that it might be a little boring for children as there is very little interactivity and a lot of reading to be done for all the artefacts and I doubt they would be able to concentrate for hours on end. However the museum does try to spice it up for families with Family Trails, Children's Multimedia Guides (£3), and weekend events like workshops and storytelling so to make it entertaining for children you may have to invest your time in some of these activities.
My only two other real gripes about it are firstly that there are, in my opinion, actually too many artefacts on display and whilst there are a lot of special and truly affecting pieces they are shrouded by a lot of old but often boring pieces like bits of broken pottery and busts and some more pottery. After a while they all start looking the same...and this on top of walking around for hours trying to take it all in, eventually you will hit a wall and your brain will start leaking instead of absorbing information and as a result there is so much you may miss at the museum. Unless you decide on multiple visits you will have to plan your day carefully to make sure you see everything you want to or you may get bogged down in mundane items and be disappointed at missing out on things you couldn't find or just didn't have the energy for.
Secondly, the price of refreshments and merchandise for sale, as well as extra charges in the exhibitions I felt was just too high. I get that on account of the museum being free (which is totally awesome considering some of the antiquities you get to be dazzled by) that they have to bring in the necessary revenue to maintain the museum from other streams but honestly, some of it felt like daylight robbery and put me off a little.
But these little niggles do not detract from the pure quality of items to be found in the museum and the superb exhibitions they run and if you plan your day right you'll have a brilliant and cheap day out.
The British Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London with over 6 million visitors annually. Located in Bloomsbury it is easily accessible by Tube - Tottenham Court Road or Russell Square Stations are a 2 minute walk away. The museum is open daily from 10am till 5.30pm and is free to all visitors - they do suggest a donation of £4 per visitor.
It is worth taking a minute to admire the building before you go in as it is quite spectacular in its own right - it emulates classic Greek architecture especially the columns and the pediment above the south entrance. The courtyard in the centre of the museum was originally designed as a garden but had been taken over by the Reading room and library storage until it was redesigned in 1997 and opened to the public in 2000. This is now a huge light, airy space which houses the information desks where you can pick up maps and audio guides in 10 languages, one of the museum's shops and a cafe.
The museum is enormous and you could easily spend several days exploring it, I, like most people I suspect was principally interested in seeing its most famous exhibits - the Rosetta stone, the Elgin Marbles and the Egyptian Mummies. The Rosetta stone is easily identified by the large group of tourists around its glass case! It is situated in room 4 which is immediately off the Great Court. The stone is roughly 1 metre high and covered in tiny writing so you will need to get quite close to appreciate it. The discovery of the stone enabled Egyptian hieroglyphs to be understood for the first time - the writing consists of hieroglyphs, demotic - the everyday language of ancient Eygpt and ancient Greek all translating a decree passed by the council of priests. There is also a replica in the Room of Enlightenment which you can touch and photograph more easily as there is no case to reflect the camera flash and far fewer people.
The Elgin Marbles are situated in the next gallery. Embarrassingly I expected to find some large round stones but the term actually refers to the sculptures retrived from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin when he was ambassador to the Ottoman Empire between 1801 and 1805. The most impressive are the central friezes that would have sat at the top of the columns, these stretch along the walls of the gallery and the statues of the Greek gods that would have sat in the temple. Even without an audio guide there is plenty of information about the exhibits to help you get the most out of what you are looking at. There are also free tours of the Ancient Greek exhibits at 11.30 daily and of other galleries at various times. The sculptures are controversial as the Greek government have campaigned in recent years to have them returned - the museum do a good job of stating the case why they believe they should remain in London.
The Egyptian mummies are on the upper floor - the gallery explores ancient Egyptian funeral rights and belief in the afterlife. As well as the mummies there are coffins, funeral masks and items buried with the dead . Having been to the Egyptian museum in Cairo this exhibit is quite small by comparison but interesting none the less and certainly seemed very popular.
Currently the museum is also working with Radio 4 on its A History of the World in 100 objects series. Even if you haven't caught it on the radio you can pick up a leaflet in the museum and follow man's development over 2 million years from stone tools to credit cards. There are also temporary exhibits which you have to pay extra to see. Currently there is a display of Italian Renaissance drawings which would have cost £12 to visit.
The British museum can seem overwhelming at first as it is so vast but it is well laid out and easy to navigate around so don't be put off visiting. As it is free you can make as many trips as you want which is great as I personally can't manage more than half a day or so before I need a change of scene.
Situated near Tottenham Court Road in the centre of London, the British Museum astounds from the moment you walk in the front door. Immediately you are faced with the immaculate sight of the Great Court and it's uniquely angled glass roof. There's a large wide circular reading room in the centre which is almost absent of outside noise (and cool to have a walk around and explore even if you don't plan on reading).
Then there are the many interesting collections. Every corner of the world has it's own exhibition hall or in some cases, entire wing. Examples include Ancient Egypt, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas. Europe, naturally, is quite thoroughly represented.
Overall the collections are astoundingly comprehensive, not to mention extremely interesting. Even if you are not an ordinary museum goer - the British Museum surely has something that will appeal to you. Whether it's sculptures, paitings, precious jewels and bronzes, or perhaps more famously - the Rossetta Stone, it's just a fascinating place to visit. And the best part of it all is - entry is free.
While I wouldn't say it's essential for brief visitors to London, I would say it has a distinct edge over the Tate Modern. They are different styles really - modern and ancient - and so it really depends on your tastes and interests. Still, it sounds shameful, but you should at least pop in for a glimpse and a photograph of the Great Hall.
(partially taken from my blog post: http://thereisanotherworld.wordpress.com/museums-galleries/)
My daughter (9) and I recently visited the British Museum in London and had a great time.
The British Museum is free to visit, but there are collection boxes in various parts of the museum inviting you to contribute £4 for your visit.
The museum is situated on Great Russell Street in central London. However, it is not easy to get to by tube. We got off at Tottenham Court Road, which is the nearest underground station, but it is still about a 10 minute walk. We went to Russell Square after our visit and that was a much longer walk.
The museum is open from 10am until 5:30pm, but that will not be enough if you want to see it all!
The museum has a very good website (www.britishmuseum.org) which I would recommend visiting prior to your visit. Because there are so many areas, you either need to have a quick visit around the whole museum or focus in on a few areas and the website will help you plan your visit. There are maps and suggested itineries if you have a certain amount of time to spend there and suggested objects that children will be interested in. To give you extra information about exhibits during your visit, you can hire a multimedia guide for £4.50 (£4 for concessions and £3.50 for children) and this will give you information about 200 objects in the museum. There are 10 different languages and a special one for children which covers different areas of the museum. We didn't try the multimedia guides so cannot comment on how useful they are. Other things which are available at the museum are a variety of free talks and the opportunity to handle some of the objects. The best place to find out about these is the museum website.
One of the other things you can do is pick up a family trail from the museum library. My daughter has been learning about the Anglo Saxons and will be moving on to learning about the Vikings soon, so we picked up a trail about that area of the museum. This was well worth doing as it made you look around the exhibits to locate different objects. You learned about what they were made of and used for. You also had to look very closely at the objects to identify different patterns. We spent an hour answering the questions and I certainly learned a lot! There are also family trails about celebrations around the world, writing and communication and the Ancient Greeks. There is a counting trail for children who are 3 to 5. These are certainly worth doing if you have children as it can get very boring for them just looking at things behind glass.
In the Anglo Saxon room are the famous artefacts which were excavated at Sutton Hoo and it was weird to see these objects in real life after having learned about them when I was at school. We were also able to see some selected items from the Staffordshire Hoard. It amazes me that such detailed objects were able to be created with the limited technology they had available all those years ago.
The Greek room was also one of interest to my daughter. When the snow meant we couldn't get to school one day, we spent the day watching videos on YouTube learning about the Parthenon and she was very excited to actually see the sculptures that Lord Elgin had taken from this ancient building. We did have a heated discussion about whether these objects should be in Britain or still in Greece. I think my camera just about overheated from the number of pictures that were taken in that room to take back to show her history teacher!
We also visited the Egyptian rooms of which there are several. Downstairs, there is a long room full of large Egyptian sculptures and the Rosetta stone is there too. Seeing such an amazing and famous historical artefact was quite incredible. We also had to see the mummies rooms upstairs. It is weird to think that inside the bandages are actual people and animals. These rooms are a definite favourite with children.
With regards to other facilities - there is a gift shop (with the usual extortionate prices!) and places to eat and sit down. The food prices are what you would expect from a museum - it cost us £7 for two drinks and snacks. But, having said that, this museum is free to visit so you can't really complain about them trying to make money elsewhere.
There is enough in the British Museum to keep you there for days. We only saw a few of the many rooms of exhibits and really only touched upon the surface of the information that is there. For children, you really need to have short, very focused visits because otherwise they will get very bored. Make sure that you are organised in advance by visiting the website beforehand and wear comfy shoes because your feet will ache from all the walking!
The British Museum is a really interesting place to visit and one of the places I would recommend to anyone to visit if they happened to be in London!
The museum is massive and features many exhibits from places all around the world. There is so much information and things to see and do that you could spend days in here. It is a really impressive place to go!
One of the most popular sections is the mummies! This section is truly fascinating and they have a massive amount of different mummies. It is really interesting and there are mummies of all different shapes and sizes here! There are even some that have been taken out of their tombs and cases. There is also lots of information about the mummies and this part of the museum is just generally very interesting. I imagine it would be popular with children too as it would probably fascinate a lot of them! Sadly the mummy section is also incredibly busy and there are always lots of people here.
I also saw an exhibition about money and showed how money has changed so much over time. It showed things from old coins to cheque books. I also found it interesting seeing some of the things used as currency hundreds of years ago that looked like massive stones! It was all very interesting!
Another bit which was a temporary exhibition I saw was about an Anglo Saxon discovery and was about all the different things a man discovered in a field! There were many different types of jewellery and other interesting discoveries and the man made a small fortune out of it!
While the museum is free you should really donate a couple of pounds per person as it is a fantastic place and you also learn a lot at the same time!
I was only at the museum for a couple of hours but could have been just as easily for a week - there is so much to see and do and if you looked closely and read all the information about everything you would probably be there for a year!
The museum is also very well laid out with different sections about completely different things and you can get a free map so you can work out what you want to see and where to go! You could even get audio tours if you wanted them!
There is so much stuff to see that you start to get a bit bored and don`t appreciate everything so I would recommend going here a few times but for just a couple of hours at a time especially as it is free to visit.
You can easily visit by either getting the Tube, a bus, a taxi or just by walking to it. The address is British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG. The British Museum is open nearly every day and most of the exhibitions are available always from 10.00- 17.30.
Also there are a couple of restaurants and cafes at the museum that you can eat at. Whether you want a quick snack and a cup of coffee or a fancy menu! There is also a shop with many good books in it and other souvenirs. All the money is going to a good cause to so it is worth buying a book or something!
You really should visit the British Museum sometime especially if you live in London or nearby as there are many important objects just waiting to be seen and considering the entry price it is hard to not recommend visiting! Also you may learn something interesting from going and get your old brain working a little!
Go and visit!
This review may also appear on other sites under the names ns1209 and mariofan123.
After a weekend of shopping, eating and drinking, on the Sunday we decided it was time to do something cultural and chose the British Museum as it was a short walk from our hotel and one of the London museums I haven't visited yet.
^^Entrance and building^^
The museum has an impressive approach and through the doors it goes into the atrium impressive styled part of the building that you see on the picture. There was a special exhibition in this part featuring sculptures from West Africa titled 'Kingdom of Ife' but as we had a whole massive museum to go at we decided to randomly wander around the massive halls of the museum.
^^What we saw^^
We started on a exhibition about money which was fascinating and had lots of examples of coins, tools and absolutely everything you could want to know about money right up to the chip and pin machines! There was even a section about poll tax and one of the artefacts was a cheque book that was produced in protest at the time.
We moved through a corridoor of jade objects from jewellery to pottery and this bit was extremely busy so we didn't stay very long. We noticed that one of the rooms was packed to the rafters, and this is where the mummies are kept. There were many examples of the mummies and their tombs and loads of information to absorb, including xrays of some of the mummies which showed their position and other details about the way they were preserved. I never knew this but they removed the brain through the nostrils because they can't leave it in there if they want to preserve the body. This proved to be one of the most popular areas and it was a bit of a battle getting close enough to read the information on each exhibit!
^^Exhibit on life and death^^
There was a really fascinating room which examined the process of life to death and how people cope with dying. It looked at the number of drugs a person may take in their lifetime and also celebrated the lives of a number of people. I found the difference in cultures really interesting.
Although entrance is free, the museum has a recommended donation of £4 per visitor but you can also support their work by purchasing items from the gift shop and eating at one of their cafes.
What I liked about the museum was how well everything was catalogued and labelled. There were audio tours you could plug into and just millions of items to look at. You really couldn't do it all in a day.
Well it wasn't really for me, but there didn't seem to be a lot there for kids to do - maybe I missed it but there were a lot of bored children wandering round making strange (boredom) beeping noises.
^^Too much to take in really^^
We headed straight to the third floor but still missed loads, however, I would go back again and I'd rather take my time and read about things in the rooms I do go into than charge about like a lot of people seemed to be doing. People were also taking a lot of photos and I can't help but wonder what they are going to do with them all. I also wish they would reset their cameras so they don't beep as it's really annoying!
^^Leaving the joint^^
After a couple of hours we had seen enough so left the museum. Someone was protesting outside to get their countries items back but I wasn't sure who the flag represented and had thought they were selling something as we walked past (it was my husband who informed me it was actually a protest!).
Go and take in all that history! It really does make a nice change from the shops and you might learn something you didn't know before (like me and the brain thing).
What a fabulous museum!
Before I begin this review, I need to state that I am not a frequent visitor to London's museums and was only really forced to visit this summer when I took in a French student who wanted to see nearly all of them.
I was initially reticent to visit the British Museum, as for some reason I had the impression that it would be quite stuffy and old fashioned. The reality could not have been further from this preconception!
This museum is a must for any adult wanting a day out for free, that is informative and spectacular. The building is monumentally impressive and has clearly had many a designer inspire it's older wings and the new glass dome that is the new heart of the building. Also, the exhibits are breathtakingly informative and huge! Many actual tombs are incorporated in to the actual building as if they have always been there - yet have clearly not been. Jewellery, books, and exhibits from Britain, Greece, Egypt and Africa are just some of the highlights.
Sadly, this is not really a museum for children, as the exhibits are non-interactive and look a little too precious for sticky fingers
Over the years I visited the British Museum on a number of occasions to view different parts of the Museum's collections, starting with Lindow Man (the body of a young man possibly the victim of a ritual killing which was perfectly preserved in a peat bog), then the treasures of Sutton Hoo and finally wonders of Ancient Greece. The Museum never failed to capture my imagination and I loved exploring its exhibits. My husband had never visited it before but had heard me talk so fondly of it that he decided that my 30th Birthday treat would be to visit it again.
Our visit was planned for a saturday. The Museum's impressive main entrance is on Great Russell Street, with Holborn, Tottenham Court Road and Russell Square tube stations in close proximity. Although the Museum exhibits don't open until 10am, the Great Court (the museum's reclaimed and redesigned covered inner courtyard) is open from 9am. The Great Court in itself is something to behold. As this was the first visit in a long while and certainly the first time I had visited since it had been redeveloped. The simple act of walking through the doors into this new space was breathtaking. I would heartily recommend arriving early for several reasons; first you have the opportunity to take in the Great Court while it is quiet. Second, as the cafe in this area also opens at 9am you can fortify yourself before you start exploring and finally because you can be ready to go when the Museum proper opens its doors.
Room 4 (Egyptian Sculpture) is just off the Great Court and tends to be most visitors first port of call. Here amongst other impressive exhibits you will find the Rosetta Stone. As we moved through this gallery and beyond, again and again we were met with imposing statues, and pieces of ancient architecture, each as impressive as the next. After slowly working our way round the Assyrian galleries we headed off to the rooms encapsulating some of the treasures of Ancient Greece. Having studied Clasical Civilisation at A-level, this was what I was especially looking forward to seeing. The examples of black and red figure vases are beautiful and the architecture and other treasures that are housed in these galleries well worth the visit but finally we made our way to room 18 - The Elgin Marbles. Regardless of whether you believe the marbles should stay in England or be returned to Athens (I am personally undecided) they are something to behold. Although not complete, the frieze is no less impressive and plaster moulds fill in the blanks caused by years of damage insitu in Athens. The sculptures from the pediments were also beautiful.
By this time we were starting to flag and the visitor numbers were rapidly increasing. We rather too hastily explored the Europe exhibits and finished off looking round the Egyptian Mummies. I have to admit that although the Mummies were impressive, I couldn't help feeling a little disappointed. Since my previous visits the exhibit had moved rooms and this time round the dimly lit rooms felt too claustrophobic though this may have been attributed to the volume of people clamouring to view the exhibits and my aching feet.
We by no means exhausted the exhibits on display at the Museum; in addition to all it's usual galleries the Museum houses temporary exhibitions for which you have to pay to view. But this I think is the beauty of the British Museum, I don't honestly think you can hope to do justice to all its treasures in one visit and as standard admission is free you can target areas you are interesting in seeing and spend a few hours looking round and come back another day to something else. The museum also offers late night opening until 8:30pm on a thursday and friday so if you want you can visit in an evening which makes it accessible to those who want to visit after work.
There are a number of places you can eat and drink in the Museum. The Great Courtyard, as I mentioned earlier houses a cafe which is fine for a sandwich or cake or a drink. The Gallery Cafe serves "hearty meals" and markets itself as family friendly. If you want more formal dining then the Court Restaurant is open for lunch, dinner and afternoon tea sittings, with starters costing from about £8 and main meals costing between £15-20. In this credit crunch climate, you may want to bring a picnic. The Museum is not averse to this and at weekends and in the school holidays offer the use of the Ford Centre on the lower floor as a picnic area.
I only fleetingly looked round on of the gift shops. There are several different gift shops on site; one which is specifically a childrens shop, a book shop, a general souvenir shop and a more specialist (and expensive) shop. Between all these shops you should be able to find something in your price range to afford, be it a postcard or something a little more special.
The facilities overall are good, I believe there are toilets on all levels and the ones I used were clean. There seem to be various tours available (although I did not use these so cannot comment further) and there appeared to be wheelchair access and lifts to make the galleries accessible to all.
I would happily recommend anyone to visit the British Museum, there is so much to see I believe most people should be able to find something to interest them. I would suggest checking on the official website before you visit to work out which galleries you are most interested in seeing on your visit, some galleries are periodically closed and it would be a shame to arrive and find you cannot see what you wanted. I also swear by getting there early as it can get quite busy.
I am now starting to get itchy feet writing this and am already starting to work out when I can next visit and see some of the areas we missed!
The British Museum is up there with the best in the world. You need to visit more than once to appreciate the collections. Don't think you are going to get to see everything in one go. I would suggest, collect a map from the central atrium on your arrival, pick two or three areas you are interested in and focus on those. When you are finished, slowly make your way out via a different route to perk the taste buds for another visit. You'll definitely want to come back, but there is only so much your brain can absorb (and the back and feet begin to complain). There are many areas to sit down and have a light snack in the central atrium, whilst there is a restaurant up some stairs. I found the food average, but the prices on the premium side. Disabled access is good, covering all areas. The museum is pretty much always busy so don't expect a quiet potter around unless you are one of the first ones in.
Sue (my partner) and I visited the museum as one of the last sights during our mad dash around London, and boy did we know about it by the time we finally arrived at the British Museum on Wednesday afternoon (5th August) at around 3pm.
Foot sore and feeling like we'd been in a sauna from travelling on the underground and making what seemed like a very long walk from Monument station to bank to pick up the central line to Tottenham Court Road.
We felt even worse after finding that apart from McDonalds, Burger King and Subway there appeared to very little else to eat - so we opted for a sandwich and salad from the local Sainsburys Central.
Map in hand the two weary travellers headed for the British Museum. Sue had asked for a museum to be included as part of the tour and I was determined to make the most of this opportunity to finally look at one of the most impressive exhibits in the world (or so I believed before we got there).
After walking through Bedford Square with its own private park (which I considered to be totally unfair) we walked into the entrance which we thought a little odd for such a large building, but thought very little of it. We briefly looked at a collection of Islamic relics and then with tired feet we decided to take the lift to the top floor where they had Japanese treasures and work our way down.
We didn't get very far before our feet were absolutely killing us, but we were determined to look at the Egyptian treasures and I was determined to look for the Greek ones!
There were lots of mummies and artefacts situated on the 3rd floor, but after looking at a few it did get a little monotonous evene with the hyroglyphic stone carvings. Greek vases were wonderfully crafted and there were lots of statues/busts of roman emperors and other famous romans, but I was getting a little p'd off because I was still missing the one thing I really had gone there to see.
We were at the point of leaving and had noticed by the lifts another area for Egyptian and Greek exhibits so we travelled down to the ground floor and well we were agasp at what we saw. It was magnificent and exactly what I'd come to see - firstly a number of massive Egyptian statues and the Rosetta Stone (or a copy at least), other large stone sculptures from other cultures and what I really came for, the pride of The British Museum - The Elgin Marbles (or marble tablets from the Parthenon).
Despite not being the full set, the tablets filled a massive room and were extremely impressive despite many being damaged whilst the Parthenon had been used as a gunpowder store. Many were incomplete or had parts defaced but they were still the pride of the collection. There are many debates as to where the Elgin Marbles should be kept, but for now they look magnificent in the British Museum and are free from the pollution of Athens.
So why were we unimpressed to start with, well because we'd gone in the wrong entrance! The main entrance in Great Russell Street has extravagent sculptures over it and massive gates. It leads into a massive lobby with a central circular structure housing a seperate exhibition inside which is £8 per person with a cafe and shop located around the ground floor.
We did not look at everything, but when we visit London again (and we will) we definitely will give this what it deserves - at least half a day. For a free day out it is well worth it, and it is also a good way for older children to learn history.
And to cap it all, once we walked out the main entrance typically there were lots of eating places!
Despite our original impression, there is no doubt that this is definitely 5*.
I visited the British Museum primarily to see their Egyptian artefacts, but also took some time to visit some of the other exhibitions there.
The museum from the outside looks very impressive and dramatic as it's very large and fronted by huge columns. Inside is just as impressive with an enormous main foyer and sweeping staircases.
The museum is very well laid out and there are lots of signs directing you and telling you where you are.
The Egyptian displays which we had gone to see were very well presented and everything was clearly labelled and exaplained. There were lots of interesting things to see including ancient sarcophogi and mummies.
We also had a look at some of the other exhibits including the Aztecs and the Romans. These also had a wide variety of pieces and were well labelled.
As you walk around the museum, areas such as the stairways are out to good use for exhibiting artefacts and have huge and dramatic statues and paintings.
The museum is free to get in to, so even if you just have an hour or so spare, it's worth popping in to look at a few things, as it won't cost you anything. Also, it makes for a great day out as you could spend hours looking round.
Whatever area of history you might be interested in, or even if you don't know much about history at all, the British Museum is well worth a visit as you'll learn lots and have an enjoyable day out.
British Museum- The best of the lot !!!
I was really eager to go to British museum and finally made it last month.
I really feel I should go more often! It is definitely worth visiting as it is packed with number of exhibits and artefacts. The museum is free to visit which is nice.
Also as it is centrally located I feel this is a vantage point with ease of conveyance.
I also believe the opening timings are very suitable for visit with everyday opening from 10 am to 5.30 pm with late opening every Thursday and Friday 10.30 pm.You can even pop in after your office hours.
There are few galleries which are open for limited time and also there are special exhibitions which charge money. I went for one such exhibition and really found it worth spending as it was very informative and interactive.
The layout is very large and you feel at home with the instructions clearly mentioned. I personally liked the Babylonian & Aztec exhibits.Do spend quality time in Egyptian gallery as they have wide range of texts,architectures,vessels,tools. I feel my history books getting refreshed with each displayed artefacts.Your kids are bound to enjoy there as there are plenty to see and learn. The themes and the galleries are really noteworthy as there is every effort to cover all kinds of collection. Do not forget the Rosetta Stone !!
No let downs when I talk about this excellent heritage although the cafes and food here are downhill as they are very expensive and also poor in quality.
So when are you planning your day out ?
The British Museum is an absolute must for all people interested in archaeology and antiques, be it British, European or Middle Eastern.
It's a veritable treasurehouse of artifacts and a centre of learning (with a library accessible to scholars).
The collections include all that has been brought back home to Blighty by the explorers/scientists/looters of the imperial era, from the famous and controversial Elgin Marbles to many Egyptian mummies to absolutely fantastic Assyrian/Babylonian exhibits. The British section is also very impressive with exhibits like Sutton Hoo hoard and similar. There is also lots of specialist-interest exhibits including a lot of smaller items like clocks and watches, jewellery, every day objects.
The architecture is truly impressive too, with a common (non-gallery) space of the great courtyard covered by glass canopy, and monumental entrance with rather interesting sculptures in its front.
There is a large shop and an (as usual expensive) cafe.
The highlights for a casual visitor can be done in one afternoon/morning; but if you want to really explore and have the required time I suggest you go a few times for couple of hours to better take it all in.
My personal favourite is definitely the Mesopotamian section with winged bulls and fantastic reliefs, all very well displayed.
The best thing is, it's all FREE!!!! (like all big national-class museums in London).
The first thing that impresses you about the British Museum is it's sheer size. Once you get past the entrance with it's wide flight of steps and impressive hallway then you enter the recently covered over central hall area. Directly in front of you is the entrance to the British library reading room where a long list of well known writers, and personalities such as Jose Rizal, Karl Marx have been members.
When you get into the museum galleries you will find it is very easy to spend several days browsing the different exhibits and still not see everything.
The Museum houses pieces from every continent on earth and from a huge number of historical periods.
You can see friezes from the Parthenon, the armour of a Roman solidier, mummies and statues from ancient Egypt, examples of writing from ancient Babylon, The famous Rosetta stone which bears the same inscription in three languages.
It is simply not possible to describe the amount and variety of exhibits in a short review, so I will simply say go and see it for yourself!
You will spend a pleasant day wandering around, and getting immersed in the worlds civilisations. The only rooms which regularly get crowded are the Egyptian mummy rooms, so you might want to time your visit to reach these rooms during a quiet period.
The museum is located on Tottenham Court road, within a five minute walk from the London Underground., and best of all access is completely free.
The only negative point in the whole experience is the museum restaurant which is vastly overpriced. The group I was with went across the road to the Starbucks opposite the museum. It was still overpriced with appallingly slow service, but at least the seats were more comfortable.