What is the oldest public museum in the world? The British Museum in London is a world famous institution that was established in 1753. It began with the private collection of Sir Hans Sloane. Over the years that collection has been added to by gifts and purchases from all over the world. The British Museum’s incredible inventory now includes hundreds of thousands of items that span two million years of history and culture. Here you can see Egyptian mummies, artifacts from ancient Sumeria, and priceless objects from Africa and Asia. The Greco-Roman display includes sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens and the 1st century BC Portland Vase. Among the star attractions are the 2,000 year old Lindow Man, the 7th century Sutton Hoo Treasure, and a huge granite statue of the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II.
The main part of the museum building dates back to 1823. It now has 94 galleries which stretch 2.5 miles (4 km). The displays are packed with coins, weapons, armor, pottery, statuary, jewelry, and other artifacts that represent only a fraction of the museum’s treasures. The architectural highlight is the Great Court, with the Reading Room at its center. This was a favorite with such notable people as Karl Marx, Mahatma Gandhi, and George Bernard Shaw.
Address: Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG, United Kingdom
Open hours: 10:00 am - 5:30 pm
Phone: +44 20 7323 8299
Architects: Robert Smirke, John Russell Pope, Sydney Smirke, Spencer de Grey, John James Burnet, John Taylor