London – British Museum – 1

Tourists to London have wonderful gems to choose from, and few can compete with the British Museum — the oldest national public museum in the world.

You’ll always remember your visit, with so many wonderful things to share when you return home. Be sure to put the museum on your London itinerary. Plan to go a couple of times!

The institution was founded in 1753 by Act of Parliament. It started from the collections of Sir Hans Sloane. The British Museum encompasses the cultural history of humankind, throughout the world, for the past 2 million years! Professionally cared for with great care, you’ll find artifacts from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Pacific.

Many of these objects may not have survived otherwise, without the curators’ attentive care. The collections include about 7 million objects, and the building hosts about 5 million visitors a year.

Famous specimens there include:

  • The Rosetta Stone (which helped to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics as the stone’s inscription also included Greek, to use as a master cypher-breaker)
  • Sculptures from the Parthenon known as the Elgin Marbles
  • The Sutton Hoo, Mildenhall treasures and the Portland Vase – famous British antiquities

You can also visit the Reading Room (which was one of Karl Marx’s favorite hangouts). And, be sure to see the ancient Egyptian mummies, prehistoric tools, jewelry, sculpture and pottery. But, there are no paintings at all.

The museum is, really, Britain’s largest covered public “square”. It is organized into 94 separate galleries. There are plenty of guided tour offerings to choose from and a program of special exhibitions. Learn which tours are free.

You can choose in-depth tours drilling down in a particular civilization. Other tour options highlight for you some of the key objects in the overall collection.

In the Reading Room of the Great Court (designed by Norman Foster), there are interactive computer screens where you can find out about the objects in the museum, the collections and the civilizations represented.

Remember, this Museum provides a special place where people can learn more deeply about different religions, different cultures and think about the relationships of the past, to themselves and to modern culture.

Indeed, the British Museum is the world under one roof, and many designate it as the greatest museum on the planet.

Now, some advice:  Be fore-warned, you will NEVER get round the museum in a morning, or probably even a day. As you become more worn out, you are unable to appreciate anything after about 3 or 4 hours at most. Plan to come at least a couple of times, in order to really appreciate and understand what you are seeing. Try to get there early in the day. You’ll be fresh and there are fewer people, too.

The Museum is open in the evening a couple of nights, and is located within a few blocks of several tube stops. Think about using the audio tours. There is a cafeteria on main floor and a nicer restaurant on the upper floor, as well as a famous pub across the street.

Yes, keeping the world’s “goodies” here has its controversies. Should the original nations receive all or some of “their” heritage “back”, if they can properly care for it now? It’s a touchy question.

Somehow, we must also remember that many of these objects are SO old that they really do belong to ALL of us. There’s more value to see them in one place, in a relatively-safe country, too.

The Brits want to share it with all of us, too. By going online now, the collections help us to understand the vast Human story, we all embarked upon. The British have been incredibly dedicated about preserving this heritage and the objects have been taken care of by the British for hundreds of years. I think they deserve our appreciation. After all, the objects are priceless to all.

Another reason it’s the best museum ever is that you can take photos! That’s really cool!

Another time we’ll learn some more about what you can see there, but just be sure to put the British Museum into your London planner right now!

Garden and the Cosmos Exhibition, 2009

Moctezuma Exhibition 2009

The British Museum

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