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The British Museum in London is, in addition to one of the oldest museums in the world, one of the largest and most famous collections of antiquities.

Currently, the British Museum receives more than 5 million visitors annually, which makes it the third most visited museum in the world, behind the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

The collection

The museum was created in 1753 and was finally opened to the public on January 15, 1759. The origins of The British Museum go hand in hand with the physicist and collector Hans Sloane, who wanted his collection of more than 80000 items to survive after his death. Among the objects in the collection were more than 40000 books and antiquities from Greece, Rome, Egypt, the Middle East and America.

The first location of The British Museum was the Montagu House, a 16th century mansion that began to remain small due to the rapid growth of the collections, both for the purchases made by the museum and for the different donations.

In 1782 the collection of pieces of Greek and Roman origin increased considerably and, after that, in 1801 the museum acquired a large quantity of Egyptian antiquities, including the impressive Rosetta Stone (thanks to which the Egyptian hieroglyphs could be translated). In 1823 King George IV donated his father’s library completely, so the museum building began to grow small.

In 1852, the construction of the new museum building, which is what remains until today, was completed.

In 1887, due to lack of space, the collection of natural objects was moved to the Museum of Natural History, and in 1973 the British Library became independent from the museum.


The more than seven million objects from all the continents that the museum possesses are ordered according to their place of origin. The museum has such an extension, that to visit it without hurry it would be necessary to dedicate more than one day but, to see the most important thing, one morning may be enough.

One of the parts worth focus on is the Great Court located in the center of the museum, a huge space with a glass cover in which is the reading room of the British Library.

Throughout the different rooms it is possible to find any type of object, from Chinese porcelain, to prehistoric and medieval antiquities, or coins and medals from different periods. The most striking parts of the museum are the section of Ancient Egypt (the best after that of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo), and of Ancient Greece.

One of the best

The British Museum is the most entertaining museum in the city for those who do not like paintings too much and prefer to become educated in another way. The museum is free and, on Thursdays and Fridays, closes later than most museums, making it the perfect choice to spend a cold London afternoon enjoying good art.

If you want to find out about Buckingham Palace, check out our article on this topic: 16 interesting facts about Buckingham Palace.

[Photo from Unsplash]