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British Museum

The British Museum is one of the world's greatest and most famous museums. It was established on the present site in 1753 and is home to some six million objects covering the story of human culture from its first beginning to the present day. Many of the artefacts are situated underneath the museum, due to lack of space. The museum opened to the public on January 15, 1759.

The Queen Elizabeth II Great Court is a covered square at the centre of The British Musuem designed by the architects Foster and Partners[?]. The Great Court opened in December 2000 and is the largest covered square in Europe. The roof is a glass and steel construction with 3312 uniquely shaped glass panes. At the centre of the Great Court is the Reading Room vacated by the British Library. The Reading Room is open to any member of the public who wishes to read there.

The British Museum has never charged an admission fee, apart from a period of a few months in 1972. During 2002 it had been suffering serious financial difficulties and was even closed for a day when its staff protested about proposed redundancies. A few weeks later, the theft of a small Greek statue was blamed on lack of security staff.

The British Museum Reading Room used to be part of the British Library. Its functions have now been moved to the new British Library building.

History of The British Museum
To be written ...

Highlights of the collections


Admission to the The British Museum is free.

At present, the ethnography section of the museum is closed, as it is in transit from another site to the main Museum.

Museum opening hours

Sat-Wed 10.00-17.30
Thu & Fri 10.00-20.30

Great Court opening hours

Mon 9.00-18.00
Thu-Wed 9.00-21.00
Thu-Sat 9.00-23.00
Sun 9.00-21.00


Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DG

Nearest London Underground stations:

Not surprisingly, the British Museum, especially the Reading Room, is a recurring setting in David Lodge's 1965 novel The British Museum Is Falling Down.

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