History Museums in London, England: British Museum

The image of the British Museum, as seen from the northeast, was uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by the museum.
The image of the British Museum, as seen from the northeast, was uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by the museum. | Source

Helmet from Suton Hoo, circa 6th- to 7th-century

This helmet from Suton Hoo, the site of two 6th- and early 7th-century cemeteries, was photographed by Rob Roy on January 27, 2007.
This helmet from Suton Hoo, the site of two 6th- and early 7th-century cemeteries, was photographed by Rob Roy on January 27, 2007. | Source

Number of Museums in London, England

There are more than 200 museums in London, England, many of which are history museums. The British Museum is the oldest national museum in the world. It's also the first public museum. Prior to the establishment of the British Museum, all museums were just private collections which could only be viewed by invitation from the person who had amassed the items in the collection.

History of the British Museum

The British Museum was established by an Act of Parliament on June 7, 1753 after Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) bequeathed his collection of more than 71,000 documents and artifacts to England. The museum opened to the public on January 15, 1759. With the exception of the first and second World Wars, the museum has remained open ever since.

A markerBritish Museum -
Great Russell St, London Borough of Camden, London WC1B, UK
[get directions]

Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DG

Tube: Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Russell Square, Goodge Street

Free Admission

Open daily 10:00 am to 5:30 pm, Fridays until 8:30 pm

British Library

In addition to being a great museum—if not the greatest museum in the world—the British Museum houses one of the world's greatest libraries—the Department of Printed Books and Manuscripts (known as the BritishLibrary). Four years after the museum was founded, it received as a gift from King George II a collection of manuscripts and books known as the "Old Royal Library." The collection consisted of documents and books acquired by kings and queens of England from Edward II, who reigned from 1461 to 1983, onwards.

Gutenberg Bible

Among the items of interest in the British Library are the first editions of all the plays of William Shakespeare. Also of interest is a Gutenberg bible and a fifth century Greek biblical manuscript know as the Codex Alexandrinus.

My personal favorite? The most impressive collection of American Revolutionary War documents I have ever seen is housed in the British Library.

Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica

My companion's personal favorite? A first edition of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, published on July 5, 1687. Translated into English, the title is Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosphy. My friend explained to me that "Natural Philosophy" is what is known as "science" today. I thought my friend was going to faint when he saw this book on display inside a humidity-controlled sealed glass case.

Number of Printed Books in the British Library

I tried to find the exact number of printed books in the British Library, but the only number available is an estimate—between six and seven million books...for which 90 miles of shelving is needed.

Portland Vase

The photograph of the Portland Vase was taken by Marie-Lain Nguyen
The photograph of the Portland Vase was taken by Marie-Lain Nguyen | Source

Nereid Monument

The Nereid Monument was photographed by Mike Peel on August 23, 2009.
The Nereid Monument was photographed by Mike Peel on August 23, 2009. | Source

Cyprus Man, circa 500 to 480 BC

Cyprus Man (circa 500-480 BC)
Cyprus Man (circa 500-480 BC) | Source

The upper part of a limestone statue — a priest dressed in Greek fashion — was excavated by Sir Robert Hamilton Lang from the Sanctuary of Apollo at Idalion (modern Dhali) in Cyprus. I find it amazing how much of the statue's details remain.

The statue, popuarly known as Cyprus Man, dates from approximately 500 - 480 BC.

Lindow Man died between 2 BC and 119 AD

Lindow Man is believed to have been murdered. He was hit very hard on the top of his head, had a broken rib, and had a cord tied around his neck, which caused his neck to break.
Lindow Man is believed to have been murdered. He was hit very hard on the top of his head, had a broken rib, and had a cord tied around his neck, which caused his neck to break. | Source

A few prehistoric bodies have been discovered in peat bogs in the last 25 to 30 years. There is something about peat which causes the bodies of people who have fallen into it, or who have been thrown into it, to be preserved.

Lindow Man was discovered in August 1984 by workmen cutting peat at Lindow Moss bog in northwest England. Radiocarbon dating shows that he died between 2 BC and 119 AD.

The Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone has been exhibited in the British Museum in London, England since 1802.
The Rosetta Stone has been exhibited in the British Museum in London, England since 1802. | Source

The Rosetta Stone dates from 196 BC, in the Ptolemaic Period in Egypt. The inscription on the stone is a decree written in three languages — hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek. In the early part of the nineteenth century, scholars used the Greek inscription on the stone to decipher the hieroglyphs.

Have you ever visited the British Museum?

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Comments 31 comments

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Daisy, I have visited the British Museum a couple of times during trips to London and it is a fantastic museum where you get really close to the exhibits. It is a very grand building as well so worth visiting just to take in its architectural glory. It is in a nice spot in London too, Bloomsbury, which was long the centre of cultural literary significance, 'The Bloomsbury Group' - Amongst them, Virginia Woolf and E.m. Forster.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Chances are good that I'll never visit one of these musuems so that you for the virtual tour! I enjoyed the refreshments!:)


Doc Sonic profile image

Doc Sonic 4 years ago from Cape Cod, Massachusetts

The British Museum was definitely one of the highlights of my trip to London a few years back. The term "must-see" is sometimes overused, but I think that this museum is absolutely a must-see. All ages will enjoy it - my son insisted on returning to the museum for a second visit. This is a nice photo guide to the museum.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Julie,

Thanks very much for commenting. On each of my dozen trips to London, I included museum visits, many of them to the British Museum.

Bloomsbury is a great neighborhood. I stayed at Russell Square a few times.

Getting so close to the exhibits is something that surprised me. I don't think I've experienced that as much at any other museum.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Sunshine,

I'm glad you enjoyed your virtual tour of the British Museum. There are so many exhibits of historic significance housed there.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Glen (Doc Sonic),

You're so right about the British Museum being a *must-see* on one's trip to London. Did you visit the British Museum Library while you were there? We were amazed at the exhibits housed in the humidity-controlled cases in the library.


Doc Sonic profile image

Doc Sonic 4 years ago from Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Daisy, I'm embarrassed to say that I don't recall if we specifically went to the British Museum Library. We really squeezed a lot into our 10 days in London (including a trip to Stonehenge and a pilgrimage to Liverpool), and some of the details kinda run together. :)


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Glen,

Thanks for stopping by again. If you visit London another time, try to see the library within the British Museum. It's very impressive.

Have you taken any of my geography quizzes? Try the England geography quiz when you get a chance.


Judi Bee profile image

Judi Bee 4 years ago from UK

Didn't know all the history behind the founding of the museum, so thanks for including it. I haven't been the British Library since they updated it, I would love to go one day.

Voted up etc.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Judi,

Thanks for reading and commenting in another of my Hubs.

When Sir Hans Sloane bequeathed his extensive collection to the Crown, his will stipulated that his heirs be paid £20,000.

How much would £20,000 in 1753 money be today, I wonder?


Imogen French profile image

Imogen French 4 years ago from Southwest England

The British Museum is one of my favourite places to visit when I am in London. Not only is it a wonderful building, awe inspiring in itself, but the collection is fantastic, including something from pretty much every age and major culture in the history of human civilisation. I've seen something different on each visit - but never seen the library, so will add that to my "to do list" for next time. Interesting hub, thanks.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Imogen,

It's nice to meet you. The British Museum is one of my favorite places to visit in London, too.

This is great...two comments in a row from southwest England. Imogen, if you get a chance, please read some of the Hubs written by my friend Judi Bee from Cornwall. I know you'll enjoy her writing.


Imogen French profile image

Imogen French 4 years ago from Southwest England

thanks, Daisy, it's nice to meet you too!

I am already familiar with Judi Bee and her hubs, and you're right - I do enjoy them :)


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Imogen,

Thanks for stopping by again. I've written a geography quiz about England. If you have time, why don't you try your luck with it?


Imogen French profile image

Imogen French 4 years ago from Southwest England

that sounds like a challenge Daisy - where do I find it?


Imogen French profile image

Imogen French 4 years ago from Southwest England

ah - just found it, thanks, and have posted my score!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Imogen,

Thanks for taking my England geography quiz. You did very well with your score of 9 out of 10.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

Love this museum -- and the fact that it's free means you can visit it several times on any vacation to London and concentrate on one gallery at a time. Voting this Up and Useful.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Aurelio,

Thanks for reading and commenting in another of my Hubs.

Whenever I'm in London, what I do is visit a gallery on one trip to the British Museum, and the British Library on another trip.


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

I am so jealous! I would love to get lost in this museum. Thank you for writing such a great hub on a place I'll probably only get to dream about. :)


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Terrye,

Thanks for reading my article and commenting. Of all the museums I have ever visited, the British Museum is one of my favorites. I hope you get to see the exhibits in person one day.


KDuBarry03 4 years ago

I would definitely get lost in this museum and wouldn't regret one second of it...Of course there are numerous other sights to divulge in here. Thank you for sharing! Voted up!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Keith,

Thanks for your comments. To really see London, you would need at least a week...a minimum of two full days for the British Museum.

You'll get there one day. I'm certain of that.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Well done! You got yourself a tweet!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Linda (Sunshine625),

Thanks for visiting again. Thanks, too, for the tweet. I'm glad you like the revisions I've made to my article.


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 4 years ago from London, UK

Very interesting. It's been a while since I have been there. Thanks for sharing the photos.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Elena (Lady E),

Thanks for reading my article and commenting. It's nice to see that someone living in London enjoyed my Hub.


Mike Robbers profile image

Mike Robbers 3 years ago from London

Nice presentation of the world's cultural treasures! I personally love visiting museums :) Voted up and interesting.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mike,

Thanks for reading and commenting in my article. The British Museum is one of my favorite museums. I try to spend a few hours there every time I'm in London,


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

Hi Daisy, this is awesome, amazing and very well timed thank you! lol! I have been before, but its so darn big we only got to see bits of it, and of course I got stuck in front of the mummies and did not want to move! lol! fantastic, and great info too, as I had forgotten which train station to get to! voted up, shared and tweeted, and pinned, nell


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Nell,

Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it. Thanks, too, for sharing, tweeting, and pinning my Hub. I appreciate your support of my writing.

The British Museum is one of my favorites. I try to visit it every time I'm in London. I always use the Russell Square tube station. It's a very easy walk from there to the museum.

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    Daisy Mariposa743 Followers
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    Daisy Mariposa, a travel agent for several years, has occupational certificates in Travel Management and International Business.



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