The British Museum in London is one of the world’s most famous, and prestigious museums. With a collection celebrating more than two million years of human history, this special attraction is a must-see for any visitor to London. In fact, there’s so much to see at the British Museum, it may be the main reason you plan to visit London.
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Did you know?
The British Museum was the very first national museum for the public ever built. First opened in 1759, which makes it twenty years older than the prestigious Louvre Museum in France.
What will I see at the British Museum?
The British Museum is split up into different sections. These correspond to different geographical regions and time periods. You can find separate wings in the museum that cover Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Rome, Asia and Europe amongst others. These sections span three floors of the museum!
There’s an incredible amount for you to see, certainly too much for one visit, which can make it feel overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a plan. With over 70 galleries and a huge range of objects, you’ll run out of time before you run out of artefacts to experience.
With this in mind, it’s always best to decide in advance which historical periods or specific artefacts you most want to see. This will avoid any disappointment if you don’t get around to seeing something special. And then once you’ve seen your key artefacts, there’s no reason why you can’t throw away the map and spend some time exploring! The museum sells guides and maps that suggest key places and routes based on how long you have to spend looking around. There’s also plenty of helpful staff there to make suggestions and give you ideas if you’re not sure.
Visiting the British Museum can be done however you want, there’s no right or wrong way to visit. You could stay for an hour, or you could spend all day there, maybe taking in a free tour or even wandering idly. There’s also plenty of restaurants and cafes on site if you need to take a break and recharge your batteries.
If you’re looking for luxurious accommodation near to London’s top attractions, check out hotels in Westbourne Terrace such as the Park Grand. Conveniently located, it’s only an underground trip away from the British Museum, the journey also passes Regent’s Park if you also fancy taking in a Zoo on the same day!
Did you know?
Banksy once played a prank on the British Museum. Relatively unknown at the time, in 2005 he placed a painting of a primitive man pushing a shopping cart on display. The painting was unwittingly left out for a few days before finally being taken down by museum staff.
Tickets and Tours
The British Museum, like all national museums in London, is completely free to visit. The museum does ask for donations but these are at the discretion of the visitor. The museum is incredibly popular as you might imagine, so to be sure you can get in, you should reserve a timed entrance online through the museum website.
To enter the museum, if you have reserved a time slot there’s a separate line for. There is walk-up entry available, but during peak visitor times, such as the summer months, it is possible that the museum will be full.
If you want a guided tour, you can book a 2 hour guided tour of the British Museum, or even a 2.5 hour private tour. There’s also a special guided tour for kids and families if your group includes young people.
If the British Museum isn’t big enough for you, you can also book a longer 5.5 hour guided tour that covers both the British Museum and the National Gallery of Art, (a mere 15 minutes away on foot).
There’s a range of free 30/40 minute tours that take place throughout the day. The tours all have different topics such as Ancient Greece, South Asia, and the Art of the Middle East and take place from late morning to early afternoon.
If you’re flying into London for your visit, hotels near Great West Road, such as the Park Grand, are a great way to stay close to the airport, and out of the city, while enjoying excellent transport links, getting you into central London in no time at all.
Did you know?
The British Museum is home to some of the world’s most important historical artefacts, such as the Rosetta Stone. The stone was found in Rosetta, Egypt in 1799, hence its name. The Rosetta Stone is famous for its ancient hieroglyphs carved onto it. The discovery of which was instrumental in the translation of Ancient Egyptian writing, revolutionising our understanding of ancient cultures across the region.
Amongst the collections of the museum are some truly remarkable pieces.
- The Parthenon Marbles. Breathtaking sculptures that once formed part of the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens, built between 447 and 438 B.C.
- Busts of Roman Emperors. From Augustus to Caracalla, if Roman emperors interest you, you can spot anyone that was anyone at the British Museum.
- Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. A magnificent tomb built for King Maussollos and his wife and regarded as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
- Ramesses Statue. This statue is the largest sculpture in the British Museum. It was designed to show Ramesses as the supreme ruler and a living god.
- Hoa Hakananai’a. One of the museum’s most popular exhibits originating from the remote Easter Island. The statue is about 1,000 years old and depicts a human torso and head with shrunken arms.
- Sutton Hoo Ship Burial. Artefacts from an Anglo-Saxon ship dating from around A.D. 600 including gold jewellery, Byzantine silverware, a magnificent casket, and an iron helmet.
Hopefully this guide helps you prepare for a trip to the magnificent British Museum. To complete your trip and make it even more memorable, take a look at the exquisite Park Grand accommodation.