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
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
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.
The Prince and the Pir: Dervishes and Mysticism in Iran and India
- 11 March — 8 July 2015 *on now
This small display presents works on paper and objects exploring depictions and attributes of Sufi dervishes from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
The relationship between a ruler and his spiritual adviser in the Islamic world has historically been an important one. In the Persian-speaking contexts of Iran and India, a holy man known as a pir or shaykh often provided spiritual guidance. After the 12th century, many of these practised Sufism, a form of Islamic mysticism, whose devotees believe that the best way to know God is through the wisdom of one’s heart. Sufis are known for their renunciation of material things. However, they did not necessarily withdraw from the world, and many were connected to social and political institutions. The negotiation of power and authority between princes and Sufis could sometimes become tense or hostile, but it could also lead to mutually beneficial interactions.
Defining Beauty: The Body in Ancient Greek Art
- 26 March — 5 July 2015 *on now
Experience the brilliance and diversity of ancient Greek art in this major exhibition focusing on the human body.
For centuries the ancient Greeks experimented with ways of representing the human body, both as an object of beauty and a bearer of meaning.
The remarkable works of art in the exhibition range from abstract simplicity of prehistoric figurines to breathtaking realism in the age of Alexander the Great. These works continued to inspire artists for hundreds of years, giving form to thought and shaping our own perceptions of ourselves.
National Art Pass: £8.25
Under 16s Free
Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation
- 23 April — 2 August 2015 *on now
Discover the remarkable story of one of the world’s oldest continuing cultures in this major exhibition.
The show is the first major exhibition in the UK to present a history of Indigenous Australia through objects, celebrating the cultural strength and resilience of both Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. This culture has continued for over 60,000 years in diverse environments which range from lush rainforest and arid landscapes to inland rivers, islands, seas and urban areas today. Hundreds of different Indigenous groups live across this vast continent, each with their own defined areas, languages and traditions.
The exhibition features objects drawn from the British Museum’s unparalleled collection. Many of them were collected in the early colonial period (1770–1850), and have never been on public display before. There are important loans from Australian museums and specially commissioned artworks. Many Indigenous Australians have generously contributed to the exhibition, providing information, advice and permissions.
National Art Pass: £5
Under 16s Free
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.
The Games at Olympia
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