If you are a history and art lover, you would love the British Museum. But to thoroughly check out the museum, you need days. If you are passionate about the two, you would love the time you spend there. The museum houses over seven million objects from all over the world on human history and culture, so much so that some artifacts are in storage because of the lack of space. If you are a resident of London, you cannot miss out on this, and if you are a tourist, book a hotel near the British museum to save time and money on commute.
Origin of the Museum
Founded in 1753, it was the first national public museum of the world. It exhibited collections of the physician, naturalist and collector Sir Hans Sloane. Throughout his lifetime, he collected above 70,000 items he wanted to be preserved. These objects consisted of books, manuscripts, natural specimens, some antiquities including coins and medals, prints and drawings and ethnographic material. These items were bought by King George II after which an Act of Parliament founded the British Museum. The Museum was open to the public in 1759, free of charge. The museum has remained open since then with the exception of the two world wars.
Expansion of the British Museum
During the early 19th century, the museum acquired some great additions. During the mid 19th century, both today’s quadrangular building and the reading room were constructed. The Natural History Museum came into being as the natural history collections were moved out of the museum to make space for more collections.
Sir Augustus Wollaston helped get the British and medieval material for the museum. The Museum also got involved in discoveries abroad. The academic work increased and so did the awareness by the lectures given at the museum. And so the number of visitors increased.
In the twentieth century, there was great expansion in the public service. There was emphasis on refurbishment and educational services. The facilities of the museum were extended. In 2009, the Museum was awarded the Carbon Trust Standard for its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.
The early collection of the Museum consisted of antiquities, coins and medals, natural history specimens and a large library collection. Now it has over 8 million objects ranging from the stone tools of early man to twentieth century prints.
The collection started with that of Sir Hans Sloane. The Cottonian Library of books and manuscripts and the Harleian collection of manuscripts were added to the museum in the very beginning. Then the classical antiques were acquired from Sir William Wimilton of Greek vases and added to the collection, followed by the first ancient Egyptian mummy. In the 19th century, some classical antiques were added which included Rosetta Stone, Temple of Apollo at Bassae and some things from middle east like the Great winged bull. Then the archaeologists were more interested in acquisitions from British and medieval material. The museum now displays collections from WW-I and WW-II and the museum continues t o add pieces and is still involved in discoveries all over the world. If you love history, you have to spend some time at this museum. There are lots of hotels near British museum for tourists. If you are studious and curious, you’ll need a few days to go through the whole collection and enjoy it at the same time.