The British Museum was founded in 1753 and it is one of the most important museums in the world, because of the huge amount and prestige of the material collected there. It was idealized as a place in which the history of all the world's cultures and civilizations could be studied.
The collections of antique art, which is not just European but is also Oriental and Asian, are extraordinarily important.
This museum, as well as being an exhibition of artistic objects, also organises archaeological excavations all over the world.
The museum's architecture is neoclassical. The building is constantly being extended to enable it to contain more collections. The last grand extension, which resulted in an extremely elegant solution to the problem of increasing the amount of useful space, was carried out by the architect Norman Foster. This involved a beautiful dome in steel and glass built to cover the Great Court, the huge square courtyard inside the British Museum, transformed by this project into a spectacular covered square capable of accommodating a teaching centre, an exhibition space, specialised bookshops and restaurants.
The initial group of collections was made up of collections belonging to the Sir Hans Slogane, a doctor who had collected thousands of minerals, insects, medals, corals and coins. The collection became bigger and bigger as the centuries passed, also due to English colonial power, until it is what it is today.
The museum offers a complete journey through the history of ancient Greece and Rome, western Asia and Egypt, prehistoric times and Roman-British art. The British Library is also part of the British Museum.
Some of the most important objects in human civilization are also part of the museum's collection: the Rosetta Stone, some of the Parthenon's marble sculptures, Hokusai's Great Wave etc.
Opening hours and how to visit the museum:
The main entrance is in Great Russell Street.
Open from: Saturday to Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.;
Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. Closed on: the 24th to the 26th of December and on New Year's day.
Entrance is free; money donations are encouraged.
The building is a real labyrinth so a map for finding your way around is a must!