Great Russell Street
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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
Ancient lives, new discoveries
- 22 May 2014 — 19 April 2015 *on now
This exhibition will introduce you to eight people from ancient Egypt and Sudan whose bodies have been preserved, either naturally or by deliberate embalming. Using the latest technology, the exhibition will unlock hidden secrets to build up a picture of their lives in the Nile Valley over a remarkable 4,000 years – from prehistoric Egypt to Christian Sudan.
- Any age
- Family friendly
£10 (free for under-16s)
Sutton Hoo and Europe, AD 300–1100
- 1 June 2014 — 1 June 2016 *on now
The centuries AD 300–1100 witnessed great change in Europe. The Roman Empire broke down in the west, but continued as the Byzantine Empire in the east. People, objects and ideas travelled across the continent, while Christianity and Islam emerged as major religions.
By 1100, the precursors of several modern states had developed. Europe as we know it today was taking shape. Room 41 gives an overview of the period and its peoples. Its unparalleled collections range from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea, and from North Africa to Scandinavia.
The gallery’s centrepiece is the Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk – one of the most spectacular and important discoveries in British archaeology.
- Family friendly
Poetry and exile
- 1 October 2014 — 29 March 2015 *on now
This display, drawn from recent acquisitions of works by artists of the Middle East and North Africa at the British Museum, explores the effects of exile through the eyes of five artists.
There are many forms of exile expressed here. For Canan Tolon, it is exile from her home in Istanbul as a result of contracting polio as a child, the story of which she evokes in Futur Imparfait. Ipek Duben’s book Refugee, with its delicate gauze pages, belies the terror and helplessness of people forced to flee their homeland. Mona Saudi and Abdallah Benanteur combine the powerful verses of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish with drawings, while Mireille Kassar conjures a story of exile from her own family history and the Persian poem The Conference of the Birds.
The acquisition of these works has been supported by CaMMEA, a fund set up to support acquisitions of modern and contemporary Middle Eastern art. Canan Tolon’s Futur Imparfait is additionally supported by SAHA.
Connecting continents: Indian Ocean trade and exchange
- 27 November 2014 — 31 May 2015 *on now
For thousands of years, the Indian Ocean has been a space through which people, objects and ideas have circulated. The navigable monsoon winds enabled merchants to travel between Africa, the Middle East and Asia, exchanging valuable commodities such as textiles, spices and ceramics. From early coastal trade between the great ancient civilisations of the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia through to the heyday of European East India Companies and to the present, the Indian Ocean has remained a dynamic economic maritime zone.
This display presents objects from across different sections of the British Museum’s collection, including a 19th-century boat from Indonesia, created entirely from cloves and a Roman necklace made from sapphires and garnets, to tell this long and fascinating history of global interaction.
Shifting Patterns: Pacific barkcloth clothing
- 5 February — 16 August 2015 *on now
Discover a selection of clothing from the Pacific made of bark cloth. Including a myriad of styles and designs, these garments are used to wrap, drape and adorn the body, reflecting the ongoing relevance of barkcloth as a tradition.
- Any age
Bonaparte & the British - prints and propaganda in the age of Napoleon
- 5 February — 16 August 2015 *on now
This exhibition will focus on the printed propaganda that either reviled or glorified Napoleon Bonaparte, on both sides of the English Channel. It explores how his formidable career coincided with the peak of political satire as an art form.
2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo – the final undoing of brilliant French general and emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821). The exhibition will include works by British and French satirists who were inspired by political and military tensions to exploit a new visual language combining caricature and traditional satire with the vigorous narrative introduced by Hogarth earlier in the century.
- 28 February 2015 11am-4pm *on now
Take part in a range of digital activities inspired by China. Find your zodiac character, make your own digital vase and more!
Song and satire: an evening’s balladry for Bonaparte and the British
- 6 March 2015 6:30-7:30pm
200 years ago, everyone was talking about Napoleon. They were also singing. Join us in listening (and even singing along) to an eclectic selection of songs and music theatre from the Napoleonic Wars. Ranging from sabre-rattling odes to poignant laments, taking in glory, sex, comedy, satire, and fantastic tunes, these British, French and German pieces are presented and performed by a motley alliance of academics and folk musicians, bringing the prints on the
Performing Napoleon: Regency toy theatre show
- 13 March 2015 6:30-8pm
BM/PM takes place every second Friday of the month. Relax at the bar with friends and catch performances that take a fresh look at the Museum’s collection.
Come to the exhibition Bonaparte and the British in Room 90 to see Regency-era toy theatre productions of The Battle of Waterloo (1824) and Bonaparte’s Invasion of
Russia (1825), performed with live music.
The origins of the English toy theatre date back to 1811 when William West published the 'first cheap theatrical print'. West’s versions of these plays, based on performances at Astley’s Amphitheatre, have been unavailable and unperformed since West’s death in 1854, until now.
Free, just drop in, limited seating
- Family friendly
British admirers of Napoleon
- 24 March 2015 1:15-2pm
British admirers of Napoleon. A gallery talk by Sheila O'Connell, British Museum.
Wellington and the French: a family view
- 30 April 2015 1:30-2:30pm
The first Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, never met his great military rival Napoleon Bonaparte, but his relationship with France began when, as a 16-year-old, he enrolled at the French Royal Academy of Equitation in Anger.
His brother Henry and sister Anne were captured by the French in 1794 and remained imprisoned in the country throughout the height of the terror. His admiration for the French survived his campaigns in the Peninsular War and Waterloo.
Lady Jane Wellesley, writer and descendant of the Iron Duke, explores his complex relationship with the country from his early years to his death at Walmer Castle on the Kent coast.
BP Lecture Theatre. Free, booking essential.
Napoleon the Great
- 19 June 2015 6:30-7:30pm
Award-winning historian and writer, Andrew Roberts, talks on Napoleon: military genius, astute leader of men, and one of the world’s greatest soldier-statesmen.
Roberts’ Napoleon the Great is the first one-volume biography to take advantage of the recent publication of Napoleon’s thirty-three thousand letters, which radically transform our understanding of his character and motivation.
Roberts shares some of his research for the book that took him to fifty-three of Napoleon’s sixty battle sites and even included the long boat trip to St. Helena, the site of Napoleon’s final exile and death.
BP Lecture Theatre
£5, Members/concessions £3
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.