History Museums in London, England: British Museum
Helmet from Suton Hoo, circa 6th- to 7th-century
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.
Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DG
Tube: Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Russell Square, Goodge Street
Open daily 10:00 am to 5:30 pm, Fridays until 8:30 pm
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.
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.
Books Related to the British Museum
Cyprus Man, circa 500 to 480 BC
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
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 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.
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