Results 1-10of 58 Reviews
London, England, United Kingdom
August 11, 2013
From journal Things to Do in London - Part 7
Rotherham, United Kingdom
August 8, 2012
From journal Musuems and Galleries
Southend, United Kingdom
March 26, 2010
From journal Things to Do in London
Perth, Scotland, United Kingdom
September 10, 2009
From journal London on the Cheap
by Liam Hetherington
Manchester, United Kingdom
February 28, 2009
From journal The A-Muse-ment Arcades: Culture on the Cheap
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
November 8, 2008
From journal London and Italy on Tour 1996
April 22, 2008
From journal London, Free and Easy
by Owen Lipsett
New York, New York
August 21, 2005
Plan! The British Museum is immense, and even a cursory stroll through the galleries takes a day. Consequently, decide beforehand what you absolutely must see – perhaps choosing its highlights or deciding to focus on a particular collection. Remember that it's not so much one museum as many all organized according to the same principles of completeness and curation by specialist scholars. Be sure to pick up a free map and note that while the "classical tour" is expensive, the volunteer-run Eye-opener Tours covering individual sections of the museum are free.
Visit the most popular sections on a weekday afternoon or weekend morning: School groups tend to visit during the morning on weekdays, while weekend afternoons tend to be busier than the mornings and most people head for the highlights – the Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Near Eastern collections are the most popular. In general, the large tours avoid the side galleries, so if you're stuck in a crowd, these rooms (which tend to also have the more informative labeling) are the best respites within these collections. The new Sainsbury Africa Galleries and Asian Collections are only slightly less impressive (and heavily visited.)
At peak times, head for less famous collections: Although they can't match Mediterranean treasures, such as the Elgin Marbles and Rosetta Stone (nothing can really!), the museum's little-visited Islamic collection is one of the best of their kind in the west, and its soaring displays of Native American life quite interestingly fuse modern and pre-Columbian artifacts. The museum's most underrated permanent exhibition is the new Enlightenment Gallery housed in the King's Library, which provides a sense of the intellectual undercurrents behind the museum's creation (its collections also spawned what are now the British Library and Natural History Museum) and how it originally looked.
Don't forget to appreciate where you are. Without its collections, the British Museum's buildings, in the historic intellectual quarter of Bloomsbury, would be intriguing in their own right as paragons of 19th-century architecture. The present quadrangular outer building, designed by Sir Robert Smirke, was completed in 1852 and has been significantly expanded since. The round Reading Room in its central courtyard, by his brother Sidney, was completed in 1857. After the British Library was established in 1998, the courtyard was covered over by Lord Norman Foster to form Europe's largest public square. It's perhaps the most attractive juxtaposition of historical and contemporary architecture in a city full of such combinations.
From journal London For Nothing - Seeing Sights for Free
Ayr, Scotland, United Kingdom
December 26, 2005
From journal December in London: Theatres, Art, and Antiquity
October 8, 2004
Don't try to narrow it down to highlights, either. You may walk through the main entrance saying "First the Rosetta Stone, then the Elgin Marbles, then...," but I guarantee that you'll see the Easter Island statues in the lobby and stop for those. Then on your way toward the Elgin Marbles, you'll stop and meander through another exhibit, and another. By all means, walk in with a general plan of things you MUST see, but the best idea is just to wander and get overwhelmed by the things you had no idea were there.
That said! The bowling-over starts on the outside. The building itself is impressive enough, especially with the striking half-face statues in front. Now go ahead, walk through the doors,and, WHAM, you're in the Great Court, the largest, covered public square in Europe. Look up at the ceiling - it's striking.
From here, go where you will, but some of my personal favorites:
The Elgin Marbles - these make the highlights lists, sure, but to see them in person is really something. These are bits of the Parthenon, from the frieze. Take some time to examine the detailing - it's breathtaking. And once you're done seeing the Marbles, learn a bit about the controversy surrounding them and their place in the museum instead of Greece, a modern-day colonialist conflict.
The Egyptian Collection - this entire section is engrossing. It doesn't matter if you don't know anything about Egyptian history, because this exhibition will teach you what you need to know. This is the history of one of the most powerful civilizations ever to grace the face of the earth, laid out in a museum wing. Oddly, the Rosetta Stone, for all of its historical significance, doesn't have a whole lot of impact in person - I walked past it three times before I realized what it was, and I was LOOKING for it.
The British Isles, Viking, and Celtic Exhbits - I ended up spending more time in this area the second day than the first. This is Stone- and Bronze-Age history laid right out for you, in artifact after artifact. Especially interesting, I thought, was a large, tiled panel featuring an intricate design (see photo).
All in all, the British Museum makes a "Brief History of Time" under one roof, an experience to remember. Wander through slowly, take your time, and you won't regret it.
From journal Tea on the Thames