British Museum

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he British Museum is a museum in London dedicated to human history and culture. Its permanent collection, numbering some 8 million works,[3] is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence[3] and originates from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present.[a]

The British Museum was established in 1753, largely based on the collections of the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. The museum first opened to the public on 15 January 1759 in Montagu House in Bloomsbury, on the site of the current museum building. Its expansion over the following two and a half centuries was largely a result of an expanding British colonial footprint and has resulted in the creation of several branch institutions, the first being the British Museum (Natural History) in South Kensington in 1881. Some objects in the collection, most notably the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon, are the objects of controversy and of calls for restitution to their countries of origin.

Until 1997, when the British Library (previously centred on the Round Reading Room) moved to a new site, the British Museum housed both a national museum of antiquities and a national library in the same building. The museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and as with all other national museums in the United Kingdom it charges no admission fee, except for loan exhibitions.[4] Since 2002 the director of the museum has been Neil MacGregor.[5]

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British Museum Blog

  • Collecting modern Egypt

    Cairo’s Friday market is a bustling and sprawling affair stretching for several kilometres, bordered on one side by an elevated highway and on the other by the City of the Dead, one of Cairo’s oldest and largest cemeteries. There, I found a minty green sewing machine, collecting mud and dirt as it sat on the […]

  • Inheriting the most iconic object at the British Museum

    For any student of Egyptology, the Rosetta Stone has to be the most extraordinary icon in your chosen field. By the time you are a trained Egyptologist – usually four years later – you are probably skilled enough to read the Egyptian inscriptions on it. The sheer excitement of reading a text for the first […]

  • Everything you ever wanted to know about the Rosetta Stone

    What is the Rosetta Stone? The Rosetta Stone is one of the most famous objects in the British Museum. But what is it? The Stone is a broken part of a bigger stone slab. It has a message carved into it, written in three types of writing (called scripts). It was an important clue that […]

  • The Dothraki and the Scythians: a game of clones?

    ***SPOILER ALERT!!!*** (if you’re not yet up to date with Seasons 1–6 of Game of Thrones, or Books 1–5, assume there will be spoilers ahead!) As well as a large measure of fantasy (so far there’s no evidence of dragons and ice zombies), George R R Martin and the HBO showrunners have drawn on history […]

  • What lies ahead: new galleries to present a voyage of discovery and learning

    It has been an extraordinary year, in many ways. With substantial changes in the world around us, public institutions such as ours need to think and reflect on what they mean, and respond. I’d like to share some highlights from my first year here as Director of the British Museum, and introduce some of our […]

  • The British Museum Membercast: a night at the Museum

    In this one-off special of Membercast, follow Iszi as she takes part in an evening of activities themed around the artist Hokusai and Japanese culture. At midnight when the lights go out, Iszi and the guests bed down in the Egyptian sculpture gallery to sleep beneath the colossal statues until morning! If you’ve ever wondered […]

  • Be bold: LGBTQ histories

    Friday 7 July 2017 will be an exciting and rather emotional day for me at the British Museum. Having worked here for nearly 12 years, you might think that little would tie my stomach in knots, but I have felt a rather heavy responsibility recently. My role as Head of Community Partnerships includes relationship building […]

  • A symbol of pride: raising the rainbow flag

    When I was young, the Rainbow Flag didn’t mean much to me. I don’t think I remember seeing it before I was 15 – my small hometown in Sussex was (to borrow a phrase) miles from the nearest lemon. I wasn’t to become aware of its significance until much later in life, which is a […]

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