Address: Great Russell Steet, London WC1B 3DG


Time: 10.00am to 5.30pm

Time Information:

Phone: +44 (0) 207 323 8299

Entry Price: Free

1200m from Euston

450m from Tottenham Court Road/Holborn

The British Museum is renowned as one of the world’s greatest collections of history and culture, having over 8 million exhibits and is the UK’s biggest visitor attraction.

The museum started in 1753 and its origins began with a collection of items by Sir Hans Sloane. Sloane was an Irish physician who, in his lifetime, collected more than 71,000 objects. They consisted of amongst other things books, manuscripts, drawings, coins, medals and natural specimens. He was aware of the value of his remarkable collection, certainly in terms of cultural awareness, and agreed a deal with King George II. When Sloane passed away, the king was to pay £20,000 to Sloane’s estate and in return the whole collection would be given to the nation.

In 1757 the king embellished the collection by donating the ‘Old Royal Library’. The museum was opened to the public two years later and they were given free admission. 5,000 people a year attended – a far cry from the six million a year today.

Further high profile additions were the Rosetta Stone (1802), the Townley Sculptures (1805), the Parthenon Sculptures (1816) and the King’s Library (1823).

By 1857 both the quadrangular building and the circular reading room had been built and in the 1880’s the Natural History part was moved to what is now the Natural History Museum in South Kensington as the collection expanded.

The site covers an area of two acres and is the largest covered public place in Europe. It offers free entry and, of the landmarks in central London, it remains one of the most popular.

The images below form only part of the exhibits on show and displays can often change.

Click on the pics below for an enlarged view and use the arrow towards the right edge of each pic to go on to the next.