Things I love about London – British Museum

Only 149 days to go to the start of the Olympics. I remember when they came to Sydney. Before hand I was very unimpressed by the whole thing … and working near the main Olympic site my biggest concern was about how this was going to impact my ability to get to work. What I came to realise that most of my expectations about the Olympics were entirely wrong. It wasn’t a huge hasssle or pain … especially in relation to the traffic. It was actually the best traffic I have EVER experienced in Sydney and have often thought fondly … while stuck in traffic … about how good it was and wishing that it was similar now. And that it did make Sydney … for the few weeks that it was in town a better and more enjoyable place. I think that there is something special about the Olympics … I know even not at the events there is a kind of buzz that just makes everywhere fun and interesting. I guess one of my favourite memories was just walking around Darling Harbour … not doing anything special … but just seeing the crowds of tourists from all over the world enjoying themselves … sometimes breaking out into cheers or song but generally having a great time. I wish that I could hope on a plane and go over for the London Olympics. It am convinced it is going to be fantastic and something very special.

British Museum

But I digress … this post is supposed to be about what I love about London and maybe give some people some ideas for when people visit. One of my other favourite places in London is the British Museum. On the few visits I have made to the city I can not tell you the number of times I have visited. I love the place. It has one of the best collections for a museum in the world … and I really do mean that and I am a museum junkie.

What’s so special about the British Museum?

Lots of things … But here is a some short highlights

  • The British Museum was founded in 1753, the first national public museum in the world. The beginings of the museum  can be found in the will of  Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753). Who left his collection of over more than 71,000 objects to King George II for the nation and this gift, accepted and an Act of Parliament (7 June 1753) established the British Museum.
  • From the beginning it granted free admission to all ‘studious and curious persons’. Visitor numbers have grown from around 5,000 a year in the eighteenth century to nearly 6 million today.
  • It now comprises over 8 million objects spanning the history of the world’s cultures: from the stone tools of early man to twentieth century prints.
  • Some of the highlights  from the collection
    • Rosetta Stone – Probably the most famous items in the collection and I don’t think it is possible to over-estimate the importance of this object in our understanding of Ancient Egypt. I just find it remarkable that this one stone tablet was instrumental in the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs. A must see if you go to the museum …. plus you can also do your own rubbing from a copy that they have on display. Plus … if you are looking for that perfect gift for the history teacher that has everything you can’t go past a Rosetta Stone Mouse Pad.
    • Entire Egyptian Collection – The British Museum has been called the best collection of Ancient Egyptian artefacts outside of Egypt … and some have the best in the world.
    • Parthenon Marbles (Elgin Marbles)  – I know that there is alot of debate about these being in the collection. I believe that they are important historical artefacts that need to be protected, preserved and shared.  Whether they should be returned to Greece … I don’t know. I can see the arguments from both sides. But as they are in London … you should make the most of it and see them.
    • Statues of Livia – OK while not especially historically significant and would not probably be within the museum’s top 100 either most popular or historically significant objects … this one is important to me. I have to confess I am alittle addicted to this woman from Ancient Rome. But she was a kick-arse no-nonsense woman in a world more more than 1000 years away from giving woman equal rights or the vote. While there maybe some questions around her actions/motives (if you believe everything that she has been accused of) … you gotta love her spunk. So for me this is an important statue and one that I have tried to visit each time I have been to the museum
    • Colossal bust of Ramesses II, the “Younger Memnon”
    • Reconstruction of the Nereid Monument – Also one of my favourites.
    • Mausoleum at Halikarnassos
    • Column from Temple of Artemis at Ephesos
    • Crouching Aphrodite
    • Nineveh Palace Reliefs
    • Colossal statue of a winged lion from the North-West Palace of Ashurnasirpal II
    • Human Headed ‘Lamassu’ Lion
    • Sutton Hoo helmet
    • Hoa Hakananai’a
    • Cradle to Grave 
For more information including how to get there, time of opening and special exhibits to the the official website of the British Museum.

Heading created using Kate Hadfield‘s Great BritonsCool Britannia & Great British Alpha