Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

British Museum

Egyptian pieces in the British Museum

The British Museum is one of the world's greatest and most famous museums. It was established in 1753 by Sir Hans Sloane, a physician and scientist who collected literature and art, on its present site at Montague House, and was purchased by the British government for £20,000.

The museum is home to some six million objects covering the story of human culture from its first beginning to the present day. Many of the artefacts are stored underneath the museum, due to lack of space. The museum opened to the public on January 15, 1759.

Table of contents
1 The building and admission fee
2 History of The British Museum
3 Highlights of the collections
4 Information
5 External link

The building and admission fee

The Queen Elizabeth II Great Court is a covered square at the centre of The British Museum designed by the architects Foster and Partners. The Great Court opened in December 2000 and is the largest covered square in Europe. The roof is a glass and steel construction with 1656 pairs of uniquely shaped glass panes. At the centre of the Great Court is the Reading Room vacated by the British Library. The Reading Room is open to any member of the public who wishes to read there.

The British Museum has never charged an admission fee, apart from a period of a few months in 1972. During 2002 it had been suffering serious financial difficulties and was even closed for a day when its staff protested about proposed redundancies. A few weeks later, the theft of a small Greek statue was blamed on lack of security staff.

The British Museum Reading Room used to be part of the British Library. Its functions have now been moved to the new British Library building.

Highlights of the collections


Admission to the British Museum is free.

At present, the ethnography section of the museum is closed, as it is in transit from another site to the main Museum.

Museum opening hours

Saturday - Wednesday : 10:00 - 17:30
Thursday & Friday : 10:00 - 20:30

Great Court opening hours
Monday : 09:00 - 18:00
Tuesday & Wednesday : 09:00 - 21:00
Thursday - Saturday : 09:00 - 23:00
Sunday : 09:00 - 21:00

Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DG

Nearest London Underground stations:

Not surprisingly, the British Museum, and especially the Reading Room, is a recurring setting in David Lodge's 1965 novel The British Museum Is Falling Down.

External link