The British Museum – Tours, Artwork, Controversy & All The Facts!

The British Museum — it's one of the largest museums in the world and its collection of historical artefacts is unsurpassed. Which means it's easy to get 'museum fatigue' before you even get to the Rosetta Stone! The best way to plan your trip to the British Museum is to make a plan! Make sure you check their calendar of special events, tours, and exhibits that are happening during your visit

With literally millions of artefacts spread over 70 galleries, the museum can be overwhelming. Our recommended way to see the treasures is to book a guided tour where you'll breeze past the tired tourists and get to the highlights, with lots of time to wander after the tour. Oh, and the controversy? It's all about who owns the Elgin Marbles.

British Museum Guided Tour

British Museum Guided Tour

As we say, the easiest way to enjoy the highlights of the British Museum is with a knowledgeable guide at your side.

On this guided tour you see the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian mummies, and the Elgin Marbles — the frieze taken off the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens. When the tour ends, you can stay longer to explore on your own. The small group tour is limited to 20 people to ensure personal attention.

line

quotation

This was absolutely the best tour! Our guide had a way of making history interesting with lots of tun facts and wanted us to see what she considered the best of the museum. This is a huge museum and she had us walking from one place to another to see the highlights. We were sorry when the tour was over as we wanted to hear and see more! I would highly recommend this tour to anyone who has limited time."
– 5-Star Review

Exclusive City Tour + British Museum Guided Tour

Exclusive City Tour + British Museum Guided Tour

Get the most out of London on this full-day tour.

Start by visiting St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London.

Watch the Changing of the Guard, and then go an exclusive tour through the British Museum. And, if there's any area of history you're particularly interested in, just let your guide know and the tourwill be matched to your interests.

This is a small-group tour, limited to 15 to ensure individual attention.

line

quotation

The tour guide was very knowledgable and absolutely brilliant. He had a great depth of insight about all the locations visited on the tour. A good amount of free time was also provided to adequately explore the seperate locations. Would highly recommend!"
– 5-Star Review

10 Hidden & Not-So-Hidden British Museum Treasures

10 Hidden & Not-So-Hidden British Museum Treasures

1. Assyrian Lion Hunt Reliefs — 645 BCE
One of the greatest masterpieces of the ancient world, the Assyrian reliefs were found in the 19th century by an Iraqi archaeologist working for the British. They depict the Assyrian monarch King Ashburnipal hunting lions.
Room 10, Ground Floor

2. The Rosetta Stone — 196 BCE
Essential in cracking the code of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, it's the most viewed artefact in the museum. The Stone was carved in 196 BC and found in 1799 by French soldiers in Egypt.
Room 4, Ground Floor

3. The Bust of Ramesses The Great — 1250 BCE
The statue of Ramesses, Egypt's greatest pharaoh, shows him as a mighty warrior and a living god. Fun fact — he fathered 85 children with a number of queens during his 66-year reign.
Room 4, Ground Floor

4. Elgin Marbles (Parthenon Sculptures) — 450 BCE
Known as the Elgin Marbles thanks to a Lord Elgin who purchased/stole them in 1816. The 75 metres of sculpted frieze were taken off the Parthenon, high above Athens. They are still a source of dispute between Greece and Britain.
Room 18, Ground Floor

5. Lewis Chessmen — 12th century CE
These magnificent 82 chess pieces carved from walrus ivory and whale tooth were found on a windswept beach in the Outer Hebrides in 1831. Hypothesis? They were made for a medieval Norwegian king as a display of his power.
Room 40, Upper Floor

6. Oxus Treasure — 5th century BCE
180 gold and silver treasures from the Persian empire. The prize piece is the intricate model of a four-horse chariot. Not until the Renaissance would goldsmithery again reach this level of sophistication.
Room 52, Upper Floor

7. Royal Game of Ur — 2400 BCE
Board games were as popular in the ancient world as they are today. The Royal Game of Ur was discovered by British archaeologist Leonard Woolley in the 1920s in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq).
Room 56, Upper Floor

8. Mummy of Katebet — 1300 BCE
Of all the classic Egyptian mummies, The Chantress of Amun is a treasure. The mummy's rich outer wrappings include a gilded mask, elaborate wig and real gold rings on the fingers of her carved hands.
Room 63, Upper Floor

9. Samurai Armour — 1603 to 1868 CE
Suits of Japanese armour have been made for thousands of years. Those in the collection are from the Edo period. Fun fact — they are made from lacquer-covered leather scales with copper fittings and laced with silk.
Room 93, Upper Floor

10. Kingdom of Ife — 1300 BCE
The most refined and beautiful sculptures ever to be found in Africa. The copper alloy sculptures were discovered in Nigeria in 1938. A year later, the 18 sculptures were moved to the British Museum.
Room 35, Lower Floor

The History of the British Museum

History of the British Museum

Located in Bloomsbury, the British Museum was founded in 1753 as a "universal museum" dedicated to human history, art, and culture.

We have Sir Hans Sloane to thank for much of the initial collection. During his lifetime, the physician and naturalist collected curiosities, books, manuscripts, drawings and antiquities from around the globe.

After his death, Sloane bequeathed it to King George II with hopes that the collection would not be dispersed. Today, centuries later, the museum flourishes. Its eye-catching Greek Revival façade features 44 columns based on the temple of Athena Polias, each 45 feet high. Nearly seven million visitors visit the British Museum each year.

The British Museum – Practical Information

Practical Information

Dine under the magnificent glass roof of the historic Great Court restaurant. It's a good reason to go in the first place! Open for lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. It's advised to make reservations.

Afternoon tea serves up sweet and savoury selections including a Provencal Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Tart and Irish Beef Pastrami. Celebrate the visit with glass of champagne. Other dining and refreshment options include the Court Cafe, for more casual offerings, and the Gallery Cafe, where kids under 12 eat for free!

Museum Hours & Info
  • Free admission
  • Open Daily 10 am to 5:30 pm, Friday late night until 8:30 pm
  • The Museum is closed on December 24, 25, 26 & January 1
  • Great Russell Street WC1B 3DG
  • Nearest Tube stations — Holborn Station, Tottenham Court Road, Russell Square, Goodge Street