Founded in 1753, the British Museum’s remarkable collection spans over two million years of human history. Enjoy a unique comparison of the treasures of world cultures under one roof, centred around the magnificent Great Court.
World-famous objects such as the Rosetta Stone, Parthenon sculptures, and Egyptian mummies are visited by up to six million visitors per year. In addition to the vast permanent collection, the museum’s special exhibitions, displays and events are all designed to advance understanding of the collection and cultures they represent.
Museum galleries are open daily 10.00–17.30, and most are open until 20.30 on Fridays. Closing starts from 17.20 (20.20 on Fridays).
Closed: 24-26 December
The Museum is closed on 1 January and 24, 25, 26 December.
Admission is free to all visitors. Charges may apply for special exhibitions and events.
Archaeology, Archives, Coins and Medals, Costume and Textiles, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Medicine, Music, Science and Technology, Social History, Weapons and War, World Cultures
Sunken cities: Egypt’s lost worlds
- 19 May — 27 November 2016 *on now
Submerged under the sea for over a thousand years, two lost cities of ancient Egypt were recently rediscovered. Their story is told for the first time in this blockbuster exhibition.
Vanished beneath the waters of the Mediterranean, the lost cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus lay at the mouth of the Nile. Named after the Greek hero Heracles, Thonis-Heracleion was one of Egypt’s most important commercial centres for trade with the Mediterranean world and, with Canopus, was a major centre for the worship of the Egyptian gods. Their amazing discovery is transforming our understanding of the deep connections between the great ancient civilisations of Egypt and Greece.
- Family friendly
Adults £16.50, under 16s free
Courting to contract: Love and marriage in Iran
- 21 May — 20 November 2016 *on now
This small display celebrates the traditions associated with love, courtship and marriage in Iran and neighbouring regions.
‘A heart without love is a body without a soul. A soul lives forever because of love.’ So wrote the Persian poet, scholar and mystic, Jami (1414–1492), on love – of all subjects, perhaps the most universal to humankind. In Persianate culture, the theme of love has permeated literature, art and music for thousands of years.
In the display, love and courtship are explored through drawings, illustrated manuscript pages and objects, depicting intimate scenes and classical Persian accounts of celebrated romances. Illuminated Persian marriage contracts (ghabaleh), along with a Judaeo-Persian example (ketubbah) and an Old Babylonian contract carved onto a clay tablet, reflect the legal and social aspects of marriage and its roots in ancient tradition. The works are complemented by a number of richly embroidered textiles, including wedding garments and accessories.
Dating mainly between the 1500s and the 20th century, these objects situate love and marriage within the histories, narratives and contexts of people from the Middle East and Central Asia.
- Family friendly
South Africa: 3 million years of art
- 27 October 2016 — 26 February 2017
From the earliest examples of human curiosity and creativity to cutting-edge contemporary works, discover the fascinating history of South Africa through art.
In this exhibition a diverse range of art from across the ages tells a story that stretches back to the Early Stone Age. From rock art made by the country’s earliest peoples to works by South African artists at the forefront of contemporary art, the exhibition features beautiful and important works, which illustrate South Africa’s rich history.
- Family friendly
Adults £12, under 16s free
Live screening – Brains, objects and deep history
- 27 October 2016 6:30-8pm
Live screening of an exclusive lecture for Members: all welcome.
Clive Gamble, University of Southampton and Chair of the British Museum Friends Advisory Council, asks how the growth of our brains changed the cultural life of our earliest ancestors.
Across three million years of deep history, he explores why we have such elaborate imaginations, and what drove the dramatic and unexpected increase in brain size. He will use the oldest objects in the British Museum’s collection to illustrate when hominin brains became human minds, showing the role our intimate social lives played in this pivotal development.
Includes a complimentary drink.
Please note this is a screening of the lecture that will be taking place in the BP Lecture Theatre next door.
To book tickets, please call 020 7323 8195
Festival of Osiris
- 28 October 2016 6-8:30pm
Come and enjoy a celebration featuring workshops, performances, themed food and drink, and activities inspired by the ancient Egyptian Khoiak festival.
Includes a special performance of Isis Is-You-sis, a 21st-century take on the ancient Egyptian legend of Isis and Osiris by performance storyteller Xanthe Gresham-Knight.
- Any age
FREE - just drop in.
Babel, babbling and the British Museum
- 26 November 2041 1:15-2pm
A gallery talk by Irving Finkel, British Museum.
Gallery talks last 45 minutes.
They are given by Museum staff or guest speakers and are suitable for all levels of knowledge.
British Museum Webquests
Webquests are online activities for children, using the collections of nine national museums and galleries.
The Games at Olympia
Great Russell Street
020 7323 8299