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5,906,716 (2017)[2]

Ranked 1st nationally

Chairman Sir Richard Lambert

Director Hartwig Fischer

Public transit access Goodge Street; Holborn; Tottenham Court Road; Russell Square;

Website britishmuseum.org

Area 807,000 sq ft (75,000 m2) in 94 Galleries

The centre of the museum was redeveloped in 2001 to become the Great Court, surrounding the original Reading Room.

The British Museum, located in the Bloomsbury
Bloomsbury
area of London, United Kingdom, is a public institution dedicated to human history, art and culture. Its permanent collection numbers some 8 million works,[3] and is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence[3] having been widely sourced during the era of the British Empire, and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present.[a] The British Museum
British Museum
was established in 1753, largely based on the collections of the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane.[4] The museum first opened to the public on 15 January 1759, in Montagu House, on the site of the current building. Its expansion over the following two and a half centuries was largely a result of expanding British colonization and has resulted in the creation of several branch institutions, the first being the British Museum
British Museum
of Natural History in South Kensington
South Kensington
in 1881 (it is nowadays simply called the Natural History Museum, and is separate and independent). In 1973, the British Library
British Library
Act 1972 detached the library department from the British Museum, but it continued to host the now separated British Library
British Library
in the same Reading Room and building as the museum until 1997. The museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and as with all other national museums in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
it charges no admission fee, except for loan exhibitions.[5]

Contents

1 History

1.1 Hans Sloane 1.2 Foundation (1753) 1.3 Cabinet of curiosities
Cabinet of curiosities
(1753–78) 1.4 Indolence and energy (1778–1800) 1.5 Growth and change (1800–25) 1.6 The largest building site in Europe (1825–50) 1.7 Collecting from the wider world (1850–75) 1.8 Scholarship and legacies (1875–1900) 1.9 New century, new building (1900–25) 1.10 Disruption and reconstruction (1925–50) 1.11 A new public face (1950–75) 1.12 The Great Court emerges (1975–2000) 1.13 The British Museum
British Museum
today

2 Governance 3 Building 4 Departments

4.1 Department of Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
and Sudan 4.2 Department of Greece
Greece
and Rome 4.3 Department of the Middle East 4.4 Department of Prints and Drawings 4.5 Department of Britain, Europe and Prehistory 4.6 Department of Asia 4.7 Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas 4.8 Department of Coins and Medals 4.9 Department of Conservation and Scientific Research 4.10 Libraries and archives

5 British Museum
British Museum
Press 6 Controversy

6.1 Disputed items in the collection

7 Galleries

7.1 Digital and online

8 Notes 9 References 10 Further reading 11 External links

History[edit] Hans Sloane[edit]

Sir Hans Sloane

Although today principally a museum of cultural art objects and antiquities, the British Museum
British Museum
was founded as a "universal museum". Its foundations lie in the will of the Irish-born British physician and naturalist Sir Hans Sloane
Hans Sloane
(1660–1753). During the course of his lifetime Sloane gathered an enviable collection of curiosities and, not wishing to see his collection broken up after death, he bequeathed it to King George II, for the nation, for a sum of £20,000.[6] At that time, Sloane's collection consisted of around 71,000 objects of all kinds[7] including some 40,000 printed books, 7,000 manuscripts, extensive natural history specimens including 337 volumes of dried plants, prints and drawings including those by Albrecht Dürer and antiquities from Sudan, Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Ancient Near and Far East and the Americas.[8] Foundation (1753)[edit] On 7 June 1753, King George II gave his formal assent to the Act of Parliament which established the British Museum.[b] The British Museum Act 1753 also added two other libraries to the Sloane collection, namely the Cottonian Library, assembled by Sir Robert Cotton, dated back to Elizabethan times and the Harleian library, the collection of the Earls of Oxford. They were joined in 1757 by the "Old Royal Library", now the Royal manuscripts, assembled by various British monarchs. Together these four "foundation collections" included many of the most treasured books now in the British Library[10] including the Lindisfarne Gospels
Lindisfarne Gospels
and the sole surviving manuscript of Beowulf.[c]

Montagu House, c. 1715

The British Museum
British Museum
was the first of a new kind of museum – national, belonging to neither church nor king, freely open to the public and aiming to collect everything. Sloane's collection, while including a vast miscellany of objects, tended to reflect his scientific interests.[11] The addition of the Cotton and Harley manuscripts introduced a literary and antiquarian element and meant that the British Museum
British Museum
now became both National Museum and library.[12] Cabinet of curiosities
Cabinet of curiosities
(1753–78)[edit]

The Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone
on display in the British Museum
British Museum
in 1874

The body of trustees decided on a converted 17th-century mansion, Montagu House, as a location for the museum, which it bought from the Montagu family for £20,000. The trustees rejected Buckingham House, on the site now occupied by Buckingham Palace, on the grounds of cost and the unsuitability of its location.[13][d] With the acquisition of Montagu House, the first exhibition galleries and reading room for scholars opened on 15 January 1759.[14] In 1823, King George IV[15] gave the King's Library
Library
assembled by George III, and Parliament gave the right to a copy of every book published in the country, thereby ensuring that the museum's library would expand indefinitely. During the few years after its foundation the British Museum received several further gifts, including the Thomason Collection of Civil War Tracts and David Garrick's library of 1,000 printed plays. The predominance of natural history, books and manuscripts began to lessen when in 1772 the museum acquired for £8,410 its first significant antiquities in Sir William Hamilton's "first" collection of Greek vases.[16] Indolence and energy (1778–1800)[edit]

Entrance ticket to the British Museum, London
London
3 March 1790

From 1778, a display of objects from the South Seas brought back from the round-the-world voyages of Captain James Cook
James Cook
and the travels of other explorers fascinated visitors with a glimpse of previously unknown lands. The bequest of a collection of books, engraved gems, coins, prints and drawings by Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode
Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode
in 1800 did much to raise the museum's reputation; but Montagu House became increasingly crowded and decrepit and it was apparent that it would be unable to cope with further expansion.[17] The museum's first notable addition towards its collection of antiquities, since its foundation, was by Sir William Hamilton (1730–1803), British Ambassador to Naples, who sold his collection of Greek and Roman artefacts to the museum in 1784 together with a number of other antiquities and natural history specimens. A list of donations to the museum, dated 31 January 1784, refers to the Hamilton bequest of a "Colossal Foot of an Apollo
Apollo
in Marble". It was one of two antiquities of Hamilton's collection drawn for him by Francesco Progenie, a pupil of Pietro Fabris, who also contributed a number of drawings of Mount Vesuvius sent by Hamilton to the Royal Society
Royal Society
in London. Growth and change (1800–25)[edit]

The Elgin Room, 1937

Left to Right: Montagu House, Townley Gallery and Sir Robert Smirke's west wing under construction, July 1828

The Mausoleum
Mausoleum
of Halicarnassus Room, 1920s

In the early 19th century the foundations for the extensive collection of sculpture began to be laid and Greek, Roman and Egyptian artefacts dominated the antiquities displays. After the defeat of the French campaign in the Battle of the Nile, in 1801, the British Museum acquired more Egyptian sculptures and in 1802 King George III presented the Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone
– key to the deciphering of hieroglyphs.[18] Gifts and purchases from Henry Salt, British consul general in Egypt, beginning with the Colossal bust of Ramesses II in 1818, laid the foundations of the collection of Egyptian Monumental Sculpture.[19] Many Greek sculptures followed, notably the first purpose-built exhibition space, the Charles Towneley
Charles Towneley
collection, much of it Roman Sculpture, in 1805. In 1806, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, ambassador to the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
from 1799 to 1803 removed the large collection of marble sculptures from the Parthenon, on the Acropolis in Athens and transferred them to the UK. In 1816 these masterpieces of western art, were acquired by The British Museum
British Museum
by Act of Parliament
Act of Parliament
and deposited in the museum thereafter.[20] The collections were supplemented by the Bassae
Bassae
frieze from Phigaleia, Greece
Greece
in 1815. The Ancient Near Eastern collection also had its beginnings in 1825 with the purchase of Assyrian and Babylonian antiquities from the widow of Claudius
Claudius
James Rich.[21] In 1802 a buildings committee was set up to plan for expansion of the museum, and further highlighted by the donation in 1822 of the King's Library, personal library of King George III's, comprising 65,000 volumes, 19,000 pamphlets, maps, charts and topographical drawings.[22] The neoclassical architect, Sir Robert Smirke, was asked to draw up plans for an eastern extension to the museum "... for the reception of the Royal Library, and a Picture Gallery over it ..."[23] and put forward plans for today's quadrangular building, much of which can be seen today. The dilapidated Old Montagu House was demolished and work on the King's Library
Library
Gallery began in 1823. The extension, the East Wing, was completed by 1831. However, following the founding of the National Gallery, London
London
in 1824,[e] the proposed Picture Gallery was no longer needed, and the space on the upper floor was given over to the Natural history
Natural history
collections.[24] The largest building site in Europe (1825–50)[edit]

The Grenville Library, 1875

The museum became a construction site as Sir Robert Smirke's grand neo-classical building gradually arose. The King's Library, on the ground floor of the East Wing, was handed over in 1827, and was described as one of the finest rooms in London. Although it was not fully open to the general public until 1857, special openings were arranged during The Great Exhibition
The Great Exhibition
of 1851. In spite of dirt and disruption the collections grew, outpacing the new building.[citation needed] In 1840, the museum became involved in its first overseas excavations, Charles Fellows's expedition to Xanthos, in Asia Minor, whence came remains of the tombs of the rulers of ancient Lycia, among them the Nereid and Payava monuments. In 1857, Charles Newton was to discover the 4th-century BC Mausoleum
Mausoleum
of Halikarnassos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In the 1840s and 1850s the museum supported excavations in Assyria
Assyria
by A.H. Layard and others at sites such as Nimrud
Nimrud
and Nineveh. Of particular interest to curators was the eventual discovery of Ashurbanipal's great library of cuneiform tablets, which helped to make the museum a focus for Assyrian studies.[25] Sir Thomas Grenville
Thomas Grenville
(1755–1846), a trustee of the British Museum from 1830, assembled a library of 20,240 volumes, which he left to the museum in his will. The books arrived in January 1847 in twenty-one horse-drawn vans. The only vacant space for this large library was a room originally intended for manuscripts, between the Front Entrance Hall and the Manuscript
Manuscript
Saloon. The books remained here until the British Library
British Library
moved to St Pancras in 1998. Collecting from the wider world (1850–75)[edit] The opening of the forecourt in 1852 marked the completion of Robert Smirke's 1823 plan, but already adjustments were having to be made to cope with the unforeseen growth of the collections. Infill galleries were constructed for Assyrian sculptures and Sydney Smirke's Round Reading Room, with space for a million books, opened in 1857. Because of continued pressure on space the decision was taken to move natural history to a new building in South Kensington, which would later become the British Museum
British Museum
of Natural History. Roughly contemporary with the construction of the new building was the career of a man sometimes called the "second founder" of the British Museum, the Italian librarian Anthony Panizzi. Under his supervision, the British Museum
British Museum
Library
Library
(now part of the British Library) quintupled in size and became a well-organised institution worthy of being called a national library, the largest library in the world after the National Library
Library
of Paris.[12] The quadrangle at the centre of Smirke's design proved to be a waste of valuable space and was filled at Panizzi's request by a circular Reading Room of cast iron, designed by Smirke's brother, Sydney Smirke.[26] Until the mid-19th century, the museum's collections were relatively circumscribed but, in 1851, with the appointment to the staff of Augustus Wollaston Franks
Augustus Wollaston Franks
to curate the collections, the museum began for the first time to collect British and European medieval antiquities, prehistory, branching out into Asia and diversifying its holdings of ethnography. A real coup for the museum was the purchase in 1867, over French objections, of the Duke of Blacas's wide-ranging and valuable collection of antiquities. Overseas excavations continued and John Turtle Wood
John Turtle Wood
discovered the remains of the 4th century BC Temple of Artemis
Temple of Artemis
at Ephesos, another Wonder of the Ancient World.[27] Scholarship and legacies (1875–1900)[edit] The natural history collections were an integral part of the British Museum until their removal to the new British Museum
British Museum
of Natural History in 1887, nowadays the Natural History Museum. With the departure and the completion of the new White Wing (fronting Montague Street) in 1884, more space was available for antiquities and ethnography and the library could further expand. This was a time of innovation as electric lighting was introduced in the Reading Room and exhibition galleries.[28] The William Burges
William Burges
collection of armoury was bequeathed to the museum in 1881. In 1882, the museum was involved in the establishment of the independent Egypt Exploration Fund
Egypt Exploration Fund
(now Society) the first British body to carry out research in Egypt. A bequest from Miss Emma Turner in 1892 financed excavations in Cyprus. In 1897 the death of the great collector and curator, A.W. Franks, was followed by an immense bequest of 3,300 finger rings, 153 drinking vessels, 512 pieces of continental porcelain, 1,500 netsuke, 850 inro, over 30,000 bookplates and miscellaneous items of jewellery and plate, among them the Oxus Treasure.[29] In 1898 Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild bequeathed the Waddesdon Bequest, the glittering contents from his New Smoking Room at Waddesdon Manor. This consisted of almost 300 pieces of objets d'art et de vertu which included exquisite examples of jewellery, plate, enamel, carvings, glass and maiolica, among them the Holy Thorn Reliquary, probably created in the 1390s in Paris for John, Duke of Berry. The collection was in the tradition of a schatzkammer or treasure house such as those formed by the Renaissance
Renaissance
princes of Europe.[30] Baron Ferdinand's will was most specific, and failure to observe the terms would make it void, the collection should be

placed in a special room to be called the Waddesdon Bequest
Waddesdon Bequest
Room separate and apart from the other contents of the Museum and thenceforth for ever thereafter, keep the same in such room or in some other room to be substituted for it.[30]

These terms are still observed, and the collection occupies room 45, although it will move to new quarters in 2015. New century, new building (1900–25)[edit]

Opening of The North Wing, King Edward VII's Galleries, 1914

Sir Leonard Woolley
Leonard Woolley
holding the excavated Sumerian Queen's Lyre, 1922

By the last years of the 19th century, The British Museum's collections had increased to the extent that its building was no longer large enough. In 1895 the trustees purchased the 69 houses surrounding the museum with the intention of demolishing them and building around the west, north and east sides of the museum. The first stage was the construction of the northern wing beginning 1906. All the while, the collections kept growing. Emil Torday collected in Central Africa, Aurel Stein
Aurel Stein
in Central Asia, D.G. Hogarth, Leonard Woolley and T. E. Lawrence
T. E. Lawrence
excavated at Carchemish. Around this time, the American collector and philanthropist J Pierpont Morgan
J Pierpont Morgan
donated a substantial number of objects to the museum,[31] including William Greenwell's collection of prehistoric artefacts from across Europe which he had purchased for £10,000 in 1908. Morgan had also acquired a major part of Sir John Evans's coin collection, which was later sold to the museum by his son John Pierpont Morgan Junior in 1915. In 1918, because of the threat of wartime bombing, some objects were evacuated to a Postal Tube Railway at Holborn, the National Library
Library
of Wales (Aberystwyth) and a country house near Malvern. On the return of antiquities from wartime storage in 1919 some objects were found to have deteriorated. A conservation laboratory was set up in May 1920 and became a permanent department in 1931. It is today the oldest in continuous existence.[32] In 1923, the British Museum
British Museum
welcomed over one million visitors. Disruption and reconstruction (1925–50)[edit] New mezzanine floors were constructed and book stacks rebuilt in an attempt to cope with the flood of books. In 1931, the art dealer Sir Joseph Duveen offered funds to build a gallery for the Parthenon sculptures. Designed by the American architect John Russell Pope, it was completed in 1938. The appearance of the exhibition galleries began to change as dark Victorian reds gave way to modern pastel shades.[f] However, in August 1939, due to the imminence of war and the likelihood of air-raids, the Parthenon
Parthenon
Sculptures, along with the museum's most valued collections, were dispersed to secure basements, country houses, Aldwych
Aldwych
Underground station, the National Library
Library
of Wales and a quarry. The evacuation was timely, for in 1940 the Duveen Gallery was severely damaged by bombing.[34] Meanwhile, prior to the war, the Nazis had sent a researcher to the British Museum
British Museum
for several years with the aim of "compiling an anti-Semitic history of Anglo-Jewry."[35] After the war, the museum continued to collect from all countries and all centuries: among the most spectacular additions were the 2600 BC Mesopotamian
Mesopotamian
treasure from Ur, discovered during Leonard Woolley's 1922–34 excavations. Gold, silver and garnet grave goods from the Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo
Sutton Hoo
(1939) and late Roman silver tableware from Mildenhall, Suffolk (1946). The immediate post-war years were taken up with the return of the collections from protection and the restoration of the museum after the Blitz. Work also began on restoring the damaged Duveen Gallery. A new public face (1950–75)[edit]

The re-opened Duveen Gallery, 1980

In 1953, the museum celebrated its bicentenary. Many changes followed: the first full-time in house designer and publications officer were appointed in 1964, A Friends organisation was set up in 1968, an Education Service established in 1970 and publishing house in 1973. In 1963, a new Act of Parliament
Act of Parliament
introduced administrative reforms. It became easier to lend objects, the constitution of the board of trustees changed and the Natural History Museum became fully independent. By 1959 the Coins and Medals office suite, completely destroyed during the war, was rebuilt and re-opened, attention turned towards the gallery work with new tastes in design leading to the remodelling of Robert Smirke's Classical and Near Eastern galleries.[36] In 1962 the Duveen Gallery was finally restored and the Parthenon
Parthenon
Sculptures were moved back into it, once again at the heart of the museum.[g] By the 1970s the museum was again expanding. More services for the public were introduced; visitor numbers soared, with the temporary exhibition "Treasures of Tutankhamun" in 1972, attracting 1,694,117 visitors, the most successful in British history. In the same year the Act of Parliament
Act of Parliament
establishing the British Library
British Library
was passed, separating the collection of manuscripts and printed books from the British Museum. This left the museum with antiquities; coins, medals and paper money; prints & drawings; and ethnography. A pressing problem was finding space for additions to the library which now required an extra 1​1⁄4 miles of shelving each year. The Government suggested a site at St Pancras for the new British Library but the books did not leave the museum until 1997. The Great Court emerges (1975–2000)[edit] The departure of the British Library
British Library
to a new site at St Pancras, finally achieved in 1998, provided the space needed for the books. It also created the opportunity to redevelop the vacant space in Robert Smirke's 19th-century central quadrangle into the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court – the largest covered square in Europe – which opened in 2000. The ethnography collections, which had been housed in the short-lived Museum of Mankind at 6 Burlington Gardens
6 Burlington Gardens
from 1970, were returned to new purpose-built galleries in the museum in 2000. The museum again readjusted its collecting policies as interest in "modern" objects: prints, drawings, medals and the decorative arts reawakened. Ethnographical fieldwork was carried out in places as diverse as New Guinea, Madagascar, Romania, Guatemala
Guatemala
and Indonesia and there were excavations in the Near East, Egypt, Sudan and the UK. The Weston Gallery of Roman Britain, opened in 1997, displayed a number of recently discovered hoards which demonstrated the richness of what had been considered an unimportant part of the Roman Empire. The museum turned increasingly towards private funds for buildings, acquisitions and other purposes.[38] The British Museum
British Museum
today[edit] Today the museum no longer houses collections of natural history, and the books and manuscripts it once held now form part of the independent British Library. The museum nevertheless preserves its universality in its collections of artefacts representing the cultures of the world, ancient and modern. The original 1753 collection has grown to over thirteen million objects at the British Museum, 70 million at the Natural History Museum and 150 million at the British Library. The Round Reading Room, which was designed by the architect Sydney Smirke, opened in 1857. For almost 150 years researchers came here to consult the museum's vast library. The Reading Room closed in 1997 when the national library (the British Library) moved to a new building at St Pancras. Today it has been transformed into the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Centre. With the bookstacks in the central courtyard of the museum empty, the demolition for Lord Foster's glass-roofed Great Court could begin. The Great Court, opened in 2000, while undoubtedly improving circulation around the museum, was criticised for having a lack of exhibition space at a time when the museum was in serious financial difficulties and many galleries were closed to the public. At the same time the African collections that had been temporarily housed in 6 Burlington Gardens were given a new gallery in the North Wing funded by the Sainsbury family – with the donation valued at £25 million.[39] As part of its very large website, the museum has the largest online database of objects in the collection of any museum in the world, with 2,000,000 individual object entries, 650,000 of them illustrated, online at the start of 2012.[40] There is also a "Highlights" database with longer entries on over 4,000 objects, and several specialised online research catalogues and online journals (all free to access).[41] In 2013 the museum's website received 19.5 millions visits, an increase of 47% from the previous year.[42] In 2013 the museum received a record 6.7 million visitors, an increase of 20% from the previous year.[42] Popular exhibitions including "Life and Death in Pompeii
Pompeii
and Herculaneum" and "Ice Age Art" are credited with helping fuel the increase in visitors.[43] Plans were announced in September 2014 to recreate the entire building along with all exhibits in the video game Minecraft
Minecraft
in conjunction with members of the public.[44] Governance[edit] The British Museum
British Museum
is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
through a three-year funding agreement. Its head is the director. The British Museum
British Museum
was run from its inception by a 'principal librarian' (when the book collections were still part of the museum), a role that was renamed 'director and principal librarian' in 1898, and 'director' in 1973 (on the separation of the British Library).[45] A board of 25 trustees (with the director as their accounting officer for the purposes of reporting to Government) is responsible for the general management and control of the museum, in accordance with the British Museum Act 1963 and the Museums and Galleries Act 1992.[46] Prior to the 1963 Act, it was chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor
Lord Chancellor
and the Speaker of the House of Commons. The board was formed on the museum's inception to hold its collections in trust for the nation without actually owning them themselves, and now fulfil a mainly advisory role. Trustee
Trustee
appointments are governed by the regulatory framework set out in the code of practice on public appointments issued by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments.[47] Building[edit]

The main entrance to the museum, with Greek temple style portico, 2007

The Greek Revival façade facing Great Russell Street
Great Russell Street
is a characteristic building of Sir Robert Smirke, with 44 columns in the Ionic order
Ionic order
45 ft (14 m) high, closely based on those of the temple of Athena
Athena
Polias at Priene
Priene
in Asia Minor. The pediment over the main entrance is decorated by sculptures by Sir Richard Westmacott depicting The Progress of Civilisation, consisting of fifteen allegorical figures, installed in 1852. The construction commenced around the courtyard with the East Wing (The King's Library) in 1823–1828, followed by the North Wing in 1833–1838, which originally housed among other galleries a reading room, now the Wellcome Gallery. Work was also progressing on the northern half of the West Wing (The Egyptian Sculpture Gallery) 1826–1831, with Montagu House demolished in 1842 to make room for the final part of the West Wing, completed in 1846, and the South Wing with its great colonnade, initiated in 1843 and completed in 1847, when the Front Hall and Great Staircase were opened to the public.[48] The museum is faced with Portland stone, but the perimeter walls and other parts of the building were built using Haytor
Haytor
granite from Dartmoor in South Devon, transported via the unique Haytor
Haytor
Granite Tramway.[49]

The Enlightenment Gallery at museum, which formerly held the King's Library, 2007

Proposed British Museum
British Museum
Extension, 1906

The Reading Room and Great Court roof, 2005

External view of the World Conservation and Exhibition Centre at the museum, 2015

In 1846 Robert Smirke was replaced as the museum's architect by his brother Sydney Smirke, whose major addition was the Round Reading Room 1854–1857; at 140 feet (43 m) in diameter it was then the second widest dome in the world, the Pantheon in Rome being slightly wider. The next major addition was the White Wing 1882–1884 added behind the eastern end of the South Front, the architect being Sir John Taylor. In 1895, Parliament gave the museum trustees a loan of £200,000 to purchase from the Duke of Bedford all 69 houses which backed onto the museum building in the five surrounding streets – Great Russell Street, Montague Street, Montague Place, Bedford Square and Bloomsbury Street.[50] The trustees planned to demolish these houses and to build around the west, north and east sides of the museum new galleries that would completely fill the block on which the museum stands. The architect Sir John James Burnet
John James Burnet
was petitioned to put forward ambitious long-term plans to extend the building on all three sides. Most of the houses in Montague Place were knocked down a few years after the sale. Of this grand plan only the Edward VII galleries in the centre of the North Front were ever constructed, these were built 1906–14 to the design by J.J. Burnet, and opened by King George V and Queen Mary in 1914. They now house the museum's collections of Prints and Drawings and Oriental Antiquities. There was not enough money to put up more new buildings, and so the houses in the other streets are nearly all still standing. The Duveen Gallery, sited to the west of the Egyptian, Greek & Assyrian sculpture
Assyrian sculpture
galleries, was designed to house the Elgin Marbles by the American Beaux-Arts architect John Russell Pope. Although completed in 1938, it was hit by a bomb in 1940 and remained semi-derelict for 22 years, before reopening in 1962. Other areas damaged during World War II
World War II
bombing included: in September 1940 two unexploded bombs hit the Edward VII galleries, the King's Library received a direct hit from a high explosive bomb, incendiaries fell on the dome of the Round Reading Room but did little damage; on the night of 10 to 11 May 1941 several incendiaries fell on the south-west corner of the museum, destroying the book stack and 150,000 books in the courtyard and the galleries around the top of the Great Staircase – this damage was not fully repaired until the early 1960s.[51] The Queen Elizabeth II Great Court
Queen Elizabeth II Great Court
is a covered square at the centre of the British Museum
British Museum
designed by the engineers Buro Happold
Buro Happold
and the architects Foster and Partners.[52] The Great Court opened in December 2000 and is the largest covered square in Europe. The roof is a glass and steel construction, built by an Austrian steelwork company,[53] with 1,656 uniquely shaped panes of glass. At the centre of the Great Court is the Reading Room vacated by the British Library, its functions now moved to St Pancras. The Reading Room is open to any member of the public who wishes to read there. Today, the British Museum
British Museum
has grown to become one of the largest museums in the world, covering an area of over 92,000 m2 (990,000 sq. ft).[3][not in citation given][54] In addition to 21,600 m2 (232,000 sq. ft)[55] of on-site storage space, and 9,400 m2 (101,000 sq. ft)[55] of external storage space. Altogether the British Museum showcases on public display less than 1%[55] of its entire collection, approximately 50,000 items.[56] There are nearly one hundred galleries open to the public, representing 2 miles (3.2 km) of exhibition space, although the less popular ones have restricted opening times. However, the lack of a large temporary exhibition space has led to the £135 million World Conservation and Exhibition Centre to provide one and to concentrate all the museum's conservation facilities into one Conservation Centre. This project was announced in July 2007, with the architects Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners. It was granted planning permission in December 2009 and was completed in time for the Viking exhibition in March 2014.[57][58] Blythe House
Blythe House
in West Kensington is used by the museum for off-site storage of small and medium-sized artefacts, and Franks House in East London
London
is used for storage and work on the "Early Prehistory" – Palaeolithic
Palaeolithic
and Mesolithic
Mesolithic
– and some other collections.[59] Departments[edit] Department of Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
and Sudan[edit] The British Museum
British Museum
houses the world's largest[h] and most comprehensive collection of Egyptian antiquities (with over 100,000[60] pieces) outside the Egyptian Museum
Egyptian Museum
in Cairo. A collection of immense importance for its range and quality, it includes objects of all periods from virtually every site of importance in Egypt
Egypt
and the Sudan. Together, they illustrate every aspect of the cultures of the Nile
Nile
Valley (including Nubia), from the Predynastic
Predynastic
Neolithic period (c. 10,000 BC) through to the Coptic (Christian) times (12th century AD), a time-span over 11,000 years. Egyptian antiquities have formed part of the British Museum
British Museum
collection ever since its foundation in 1753 after receiving 160 Egyptian objects[61] from Sir Hans Sloane. After the defeat of the French forces under Napoleon at the Battle of the Nile
Battle of the Nile
in 1801, the Egyptian antiquities collected were confiscated by the British army
British army
and presented to the British Museum
British Museum
in 1803. These works, which included the famed Rosetta Stone, were the first important group of large sculptures to be acquired by the museum. Thereafter, the UK appointed Henry Salt as consul in Egypt
Egypt
who amassed a huge collection of antiquities, some of which were assembled and transported with great ingenuity by the famous Italian explorer Giovanni Belzoni. Most of the antiquities Salt collected were purchased by the British Museum
British Museum
and the Musée du Louvre. By 1866 the collection consisted of some 10,000 objects. Antiquities from excavations started to come to the museum in the latter part of the 19th century as a result of the work of the Egypt
Egypt
Exploration Fund under the efforts of E.A. Wallis Budge. Over the years more than 11,000 objects came from this source, including pieces from Amarna, Bubastis
Bubastis
and Deir el-Bahari. Other organisations and individuals also excavated and donated objects to the British Museum, including Flinders Petrie's Egypt
Egypt
Research
Research
Account and the British School of Archaeology in Egypt, as well as the Oxford University
Oxford University
Expedition to Kawa and Faras
Faras
in Sudan.

Room 4 – Colossal red granite statue of Amenhotep III, 1350 BC

Active support by the museum for excavations in Egypt
Egypt
continued to result in important acquisitions throughout the 20th century until changes in antiquities laws in Egypt
Egypt
led to the suspension of policies allowing finds to be exported, although divisions still continue in Sudan. The British Museum
British Museum
conducted its own excavations in Egypt
Egypt
where it received divisions of finds, including Asyut
Asyut
(1907), Mostagedda and Matmar (1920s), Ashmunein
Ashmunein
(1980s) and sites in Sudan such as Soba, Kawa and the Northern Dongola Reach (1990s). The size of the Egyptian collections now stand at over 110,000 objects.[62] In autumn 2001 the eight million objects forming the museum's permanent collection were further expanded by the addition of six million objects from the Wendorf Collection of Egyptian and Sudanese Prehistory.[63] These were donated by Professor Fred Wendorf of Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University
in Texas, and comprise the entire collection of artefacts and environmental remains from his excavations at Prehistoric
Prehistoric
sites in the Sahara Desert
Sahara Desert
between 1963 and 1997. Other fieldwork collections have recently come from Dietrich and Rosemarie Klemm (University of Munich) and William Adams (University of Kentucky). The seven permanent Egyptian galleries at the British Museum, which include its largest exhibition space (Room 4, for monumental sculpture), can display only 4% of its Egyptian holdings. The second-floor galleries have a selection of the museum's collection of 140 mummies and coffins, the largest outside Cairo. A high proportion of the collection comes from tombs or contexts associated with the cult of the dead, and it is these pieces, in particular the mummies, that remain among the most eagerly sought-after exhibits by visitors to the museum. Key highlights of the collections include:

Room 61 – The famous false fresco 'Pond in a Garden' from the Tomb of Nebamun, c. 1350 BC

Room 4 – The Rosetta Stone, key to the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs, 196 BC

Predynastic
Predynastic
and Early Dynastic period (c. 6000 BC – c. 2690 BC)

Mummy
Mummy
of Ginger from Gebelein, (c. 3400 BC) The Battlefield Palette
Battlefield Palette
and Hunters Palette, two cosmetic palettes with complex decorative schemes, (c. 3100 BC) Stela of King Peribsen, Abydos, (c. 2720–2710 BC)

Old Kingdom (2690–2181 BC)

Granite statue of Ankhwa, the shipbuilder, Saqqara, Egypt, 3rd Dynasty, (around 2650 BC) Several of the original casing stones from the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, (c. 2570 BC) Wooden tomb statue of Tjeti, Fifth to Sixth Dynasty, (about 2345–2181 BC)

Middle Kingdom (2134–1690 BC)

Inner and outer coffin of Sebekhetepi, Beni Hasan, (about 2125–1795 BC) Limestone stela of Heqaib, Abydos, Egypt, 12th Dynasty, (1990–1750 BC) Block statue and stela of Sahathor, 12th Dynasty, reign of Amenemhat II, (about 1922–1878 BC)

New Kingdom (1549–1069 BC)

Fragment of the beard of the Great Sphinx of Giza, (14th century BC) Colossal head from a statue of Amenhotep III, (1350 BC) Colossal limestone bust of Amenhotep III, (1350 BC) Amarna
Amarna
Tablets, 99 out of 382 tablets found, second greatest collection in the world after the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin (203 tablets), (1350 BC) List of the kings of Egypt
Egypt
from the Temple of Ramesses II, (1250 BC)

Third Intermediate Period (1069–664 BC)

Mummy
Mummy
case and coffin of Nesperennub, Thebes, (c.800 BC) Statue of Amun in the form of a ram protecting King Taharqa, (683 BC) Inner and outer coffins of the priest Hor, Deir el-Bahari, Thebes, 25th Dynasty, (about 680 BC)

Late Period (664–332 BC)

Saite Sarcophagus of Satsobek, the vizier (prime minister) of the northern part of Egypt
Egypt
in the reign of Psammetichus I, (664–610 BC) Bronze figure of Isis and Horus, North Saqqara, Egypt, (600 BC) Obelisks and sarcophagus of Pharaoh Nectanebo II, (360–343 BC)

Ptolemaic dynasty (305–30 BC)

The famous Rosetta Stone, trilingual stela that unlocked the ancient Egyptian civilisation, (196 BC) Giant sculpture of a scarab beetle, (32–30 BC) Mummy
Mummy
of Hornedjitef
Hornedjitef
(inner coffin), Thebes, (3rd century BC)

Roman Period (30 BC-641 AD)

The Meriotic Hamadab Stela
Hamadab Stela
from the Kingdom of Kush
Kingdom of Kush
found near the ancient site of Meroë in Sudan, 24 BC Lid of the coffin of Soter and Cleopatra from Qurna, Thebes, (early 2nd century AD) Mummy
Mummy
of a youth with a portrait of the deceased, Hawara, (100–200 AD)

Room 64 - Egyptian grave containing a Gebelein predynastic mummy, late predynastic, 3400 BC

Room 4 – Three black granite statues of the pharaoh Senusret III, c. 1850 BC

Room 4 – Three black granite statues of the goddess Sakhmet, c. 1400 BC

Room 4 – Colossal statue of Amenhotep III, c. 1370 BC

Great Court – Colossal quartzite statue of Amenhotep III, c. 1350 BC

Room 4 - Limestone statue of a husband and wife, 1300-1250 BC

Room 63 - Gilded outer coffins from the tomb of Henutmehyt, Thebes, Egypt, 19th Dynasty, 1250 BC

Book of the Dead of Hunefer, sheet 5, 19th Dynasty, 1250 BC

Room 4 - Ancient Egyptian bronze statue of a cat from the Late Period, about 664–332 BC

Room 4 - Green siltstone head of a Pharaoh, 26th-30th Dynasty, 600-340 BC

Great Court - Black siltstone obelisk of King Nectanebo II
Nectanebo II
of Egypt, Thirtieth dynasty, about 350 BC

Room 62 - Detail from the mummy case of Artemidorus the Younger, a Greek who had settled in Thebes, Egypt, during Roman times, 100-200 AD

Department of Greece
Greece
and Rome[edit]

Room 17 – Reconstruction of the Nereid Monument, c. 390 BC

Room 18 – Parthenon
Parthenon
marbles from the Acropolis of Athens, 447 BC

Room 21 – Mausoleum
Mausoleum
at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, mid-4th century BC

The British Museum
British Museum
has one of the world's largest and most comprehensive collections of antiquities from the Classical world, with over 100,000 objects. These mostly range in date from the beginning of the Greek Bronze Age
Bronze Age
(about 3200 BC) to the establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, with the Edict of Milan
Edict of Milan
under the reign of the Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
Constantine I
Constantine I
in 313 AD. Archaeology was in its infancy during the nineteenth century and many pioneering individuals began excavating sites across the Classical world, chief among them for the museum were Charles Newton, John Turtle Wood, Robert Murdoch Smith
Robert Murdoch Smith
and Charles Fellows. The Greek objects originate from across the Ancient Greek world, from the mainland of Greece
Greece
and the Aegean Islands, to neighbouring lands in Asia Minor
Asia Minor
and Egypt
Egypt
in the eastern Mediterranean and as far as the western lands of Magna Graecia
Magna Graecia
that include Sicily and southern Italy. The Cycladic, Minoan and Mycenaean cultures are represented, and the Greek collection includes important sculpture from the Parthenon
Parthenon
in Athens, as well as elements of two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
and the Temple of Artemis
Temple of Artemis
at Ephesos. Beginning from the early Bronze Age, the department also houses one of the widest-ranging collections of Italic and Etruscan antiquities outside Italy, as well as extensive groups of material from Cyprus and non-Greek colonies in Lycia
Lycia
and Caria
Caria
on Asia Minor. There is some material from the Roman Republic, but the collection's strength is in its comprehensive array of objects from across the Roman Empire, with the exception of Britain (which is the mainstay of the Department of Prehistory
Prehistory
and Europe). The collections of ancient jewellery and bronzes, Greek vases (many from graves in southern Italy
Italy
that were once part of Sir William Hamilton's and Chevalier Durand's collections), Roman glass including the famous Cameo glass
Cameo glass
Portland Vase, Roman mosaics from Carthage
Carthage
and Utica in North Africa that were excavated by Nathan Davis, and silver hoards from Roman Gaul
Roman Gaul
(some of which were bequeathed by the philanthropist and museum trustee Richard Payne Knight), are particularly important. Cypriot antiquities are strong too and have benefited from the purchase of Sir Robert Hamilton Lang's collection as well as the bequest of Emma Turner in 1892, which funded many excavations on the island. Roman sculptures (many of which are copies of Greek originals) are particularly well represented by the Townley collection as well as residual sculptures from the famous Farnese collection. Objects from the Department of Greece
Greece
and Rome are located throughout the museum, although many of the architectural monuments are to be found on the ground floor, with connecting galleries from Gallery 5 to Gallery 23. On the upper floor, there are galleries devoted to smaller material from ancient Italy, Greece, Cyprus and the Roman Empire. Key highlights of the collections include: Parthenon

The Parthenon
Parthenon
Marbles (Elgin Marbles), (447–438 BC)

Erechtheion

A surviving column, (420–415 BC) One of six remaining Caryatids, (415 BC)

Temple of Athena
Athena
Nike

Surviving frieze slabs, (427–424 BC)

Temple of Bassae

Twenty-three surviving blocks of the frieze from the interior of the temple, (420–400 BC)

Mausoleum
Mausoleum
at Halicarnassus

Two colossal free-standing figures identified as Maussollos and his wife Artemisia, (c. 350 BC) Part of an impressive horse from the chariot group adorning the summit of the Mausoleum, (c. 350 BC) The Amazonomachy
Amazonomachy
frieze – A long section of relief frieze showing the battle between Greeks and Amazons, (c. 350 BC)

Temple of Artemis
Temple of Artemis
in Ephesus

One of the sculptured column bases, (340–320 BC) Part of the Ionic frieze situated above the colonnade, (330–300 BC)

Knidos
Knidos
in Asia Minor

Demeter of Knidos, (350 BC) Lion of Knidos, (350–200 BC)

Xanthos
Xanthos
in Asia Minor

Lion Tomb, (550–500 BC) Harpy Tomb, (480–470 BC) Nereid Monument, partial reconstruction of a large and elaborate Lykian tomb, (390–380 BC) Tomb of Merehi, (390–350 BC) Tomb of Payava, (375–350 BC)

Wider collection Prehistoric
Prehistoric
Greece
Greece
and Italy
Italy
(3300 BC – 8th century BC)

Over thirty Cycladic figures from islands in the Aegean Sea, many collected by James Theodore Bent, Greece, (3300–2000 BC) Material from the Palace of Knossos
Knossos
including a huge pottery storage jar, some donated by Sir Arthur Evans, Crete, Greece, (1900–1100 BC) The Minoan gold treasure from Aegina, northern Aegean, Greece, (1850–1550 BC) Segments of the columns and architraves from the Treasury of Atreus, Peloponnese, Greece, (1350–1250 BC) Elgin Amphora, highly decorated pottery vase attributed to the Dipylon Master, Athens, Greece, (8th century BC) Bronze Statuette of Athletic Spartan Girl

Etruscan (8th century BC – 1st century BC)

Some of the artefacts from the Castellani Tomb in Palestrina, central Italy, (8th–6th century BC) Contents of the Isis Tomb, Vulci, (570–560 BC) Painted terracotta plaques (the so-called Boccanera Plaques) from a tomb in Cerveteri, (560–550 BC) Oscan Tablet, one of the most important inscriptions in the Oscan language, (300–100 BC) Sarcophagus of Seianti Hanunia Tlesnasa
Sarcophagus of Seianti Hanunia Tlesnasa
from Chiusi, (150–140 BC)

Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
(8th century BC – 4th century AD)

Group of life-size archaic statues from the Sacred Way at Didyma, western Turkey, (600–580 BC) Dedicatory Inscription by Alexander the Great from Priene
Priene
in Turkey (330 BC) Head from the colossal statue of the Asclepius of Milos, Greece, (325–300 BC) Bronze sculpture of a Greek poet known as the Arundel Head, western Turkey, (2nd–1st centuries BC) Remains of the Scylla
Scylla
monument at Bargylia, south west Anatolia, Turkey, (200–150 BC)

Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
(1st century BC – 4th century AD)

Cameo glass
Cameo glass
Portland Vase, the most famous glass vessel from ancient Rome, (1–25 AD) Silver Warren Cup
Warren Cup
with homoerotic scenes, found near Jerusalem, (5–15 AD) Discus-thrower (Discobolos)[64] and Bronze Head of Hypnos from Civitella d'Arna, Italy, (1st–2nd centuries AD) Capitals from some of the pilasters of the Pantheon, Rome, (126 AD) Jennings Dog, a statue of a Molossian
Molossian
guard dog, central Italy, (2nd century AD)

Room 12 – A gold earring from the Aegina Treasure, Greece, 1700-1500 BC

Room 18 – Parthenon
Parthenon
statuary from the east pediment and Metopes from the south wall, Athens, Greece, 447-438 BC

Room 19 – Caryatid
Caryatid
and Ionian column from the Erechtheion, Acropolis of Athens, Greece, 420-415 BC

Room 20 – Tomb of Payava, Lycia, Turkey, 360 BC

Room 21 – Fragmentary horse from the colossal chariot group which topped the podium of the Mausoleum
Mausoleum
at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Turkey, c. 350 BC

Room 22 - Gold oak wreath with a bee and two cicadas, western Turkey, c. 350-300 BC

Room 22 – Column from the Temple of Artemis
Temple of Artemis
in Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Turkey, early 4th century BC

Room 22 - Colossal head of Asclepius wearing a metal crown (now lost), from a cult statue on Melos, Greece, 325-300 BC

Room 1 - Farnese Hermes
Hermes
in the Enlightenment Gallery, Italy, 1st century AD

Room 69 - Roman gladiator helmet from Pompeii, Italy, 1st century AD

Room 23 - The famous version of the 'Crouching Venus', Roman, c. 1st century AD

Room 22 – Roman marble copy of the famous 'Spinario (Boy with Thorn)', Italy, c. 1st century AD

Room 22 – Apollo
Apollo
of Cyrene (holding a lyre), Libya, c. 2nd century AD

Department of the Middle East[edit]

Room 9 – Assyrian palace reliefs, Nineveh, 701–681 BC

With a collection numbering some 330,000 works,[65] the British Museum possesses the world's largest and most important collection of Mesopotamian
Mesopotamian
antiquities outside Iraq. A collection of immense importance, the holdings of Assyrian sculpture, Babylonian and Sumerian antiquities are among the most comprehensive in the world with entire suites of rooms panelled in alabaster Assyrian palace reliefs from Nimrud, Nineveh
Nineveh
and Khorsabad. The collections represent the civilisations of the ancient Near East and its adjacent areas. These cover Mesopotamia, Persia, the Arabian Peninsula, Anatolia, the Caucasus, parts of Central Asia, Syria, the Holy Land
Holy Land
and Phoenician settlements in the western Mediterranean from the prehistoric period and include objects from the beginning of Islam in the 7th century. The first significant addition of Mesopotamian
Mesopotamian
objects was from the collection of Claudius James Rich
Claudius James Rich
in 1825. The collection was later dramatically enlarged by the excavations of A. H. Layard at the Assyrian sites of Nimrud
Nimrud
and Nineveh
Nineveh
between 1845 and 1851. At Nimrud, Layard discovered the North-West Palace of Ashurnasirpal II, as well as three other palaces and various temples. He later uncovered the Palace of Sennacherib
Sennacherib
at Nineveh
Nineveh
with 'no less than seventy-one halls'. As a result, a large numbers of Lamassu's, palace reliefs, stelae, including the Black Obelisk
Black Obelisk
of Shalmaneser III, were brought to the British Museum.

Room 6 – Pair of Human Headed Winged Lions and reliefs from Nimrud with the Balawat
Balawat
Gates, c. 860 BC

Room 52 – Ancient Iran
Iran
with the Cyrus Cylinder, considered to be the world's first charter of human rights, 559–530 BC

Layard's work was continued by his assistant, Hormuzd Rassam
Hormuzd Rassam
and in 1852–1854 he went on to discover the North Palace of Ashurbanipal
Ashurbanipal
at Nineveh
Nineveh
with many magnificent reliefs, including the famous Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal
Ashurbanipal
and Lachish
Lachish
reliefs. He also discovered the Royal Library
Library
of Ashurbanipal, a large collection of cuneiform tablets of enormous importance that today number around 130,000 pieces. W. K. Loftus excavated in Nimrud
Nimrud
between 1850 and 1855 and found a remarkable hoard of ivories in the Burnt Palace. Between 1878 and 1882 Rassam greatly improved the museum's holdings with exquisite objects including the Cyrus Cylinder
Cyrus Cylinder
from Babylon, the bronze gates from Balawat, important objects from Sippar, and a fine collection of Urartian
Urartian
bronzes from Toprakkale. In the early 20th century excavations were carried out at Carchemish, Turkey
Turkey
by D. G. Hogarth and Leonard Woolley, the latter assisted by T. E. Lawrence. The Mesopotamian
Mesopotamian
collections were greatly augmented by excavations in southern Iraq
Iraq
after the First World War. From Tell al-Ubaid came the bronze furnishings of a Sumerian temple, including life-sized lions and a panel featuring the lion-headed eagle Indugud found by H. R. Hall in 1919–24. Woolley went on to excavate Ur between 1922 and 1934, discovering the 'Royal Cemeteries' of the 3rd millennium BC. Some of the masterpieces include the 'Standard of Ur', the 'Ram in a Thicket', the 'Royal Game of Ur', and two bull-headed lyres. The department also has three diorite statues of the ruler Gudea from the ancient state of Lagash
Lagash
and a series of limestone kudurru or boundary stones from different locations across ancient Mesopotamia. Although the collections centre on Mesopotamia, most of the surrounding areas are well represented. The Achaemenid
Achaemenid
collection was enhanced with the addition of the Oxus Treasure
Oxus Treasure
in 1897 and objects excavated by the German scholar Ernst Herzfeld
Ernst Herzfeld
and the Hungarian-British explorer Sir Aurel Stein. Reliefs
Reliefs
and sculptures from the site of Persepolis
Persepolis
were donated by Sir Gore Ouseley
Gore Ouseley
in 1825 and the 5th Earl of Aberdeen in 1861. Moreover, the museum has been able to acquire one of the greatest assemblages of Achaemenid silverware in the world. The later Sasanian Empire
Sasanian Empire
is also well represented by ornate silver plates and cups, many representing ruling monarchs hunting lions and deer. Phoenician antiquities come from across the region, but the Tharros
Tharros
collection from Sardinia
Sardinia
and the large number of Phoenician stelae from Carthage
Carthage
are outstanding. Another often overlooked highlight is Yemeni antiquities, the finest collection outside that country. Furthermore, the museum has a representative collection of Dilmun
Dilmun
and Parthian material excavated from various burial mounds at the ancient sites of A'ali
A'ali
and Shakhura in Bahrain. From the modern state of Syria
Syria
come almost forty funerary busts from Palmyra
Palmyra
and a group of stone reliefs from the excavations of Max von Oppenheim at Tell Halaf
Tell Halaf
that was purchased in 1920. More material followed from the excavations of Max Mallowan
Max Mallowan
at Chagar Bazar
Chagar Bazar
and Tell Brak in 1935–1938 and from Woolley at Alalakh
Alalakh
in the years just before and after the Second World War. Mallowan returned with his wife Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie
to carry out further digs at Nimrud
Nimrud
in the postwar period which secured many important artefacts for the museum. The collection of Palestinian material was strengthened by the work of Kathleen Kenyon
Kathleen Kenyon
at Jericho
Jericho
in the 1950s and the acquisition in 1980 of around 17,000 objects found at Lachish
Lachish
by the Wellcome-Marston expedition of 1932–1938. Archaeological digs are still taking place where permitted in the Middle East, and, depending on the country, the museum continues to receive a share of the finds from sites such as Tell es Sa'idiyeh in Jordan. The museum's collection of Islamic art, including archaeological material, numbers about 40,000 objects,[66] one of the largest of its kind in the world. As such, it contains a broad range of pottery, paintings, tiles, metalwork, glass, seals, and inscriptions from across the Islamic world, from Spain
Spain
in the west to India
India
in the east. It is particularly famous for its collection of Iznik ceramics (the largest in the world), a highlight of which is the mosque lamp from the Dome of the Rock, mediaeval metalwork such as the Vaso Vescovali with its depictions of the Zodiac, a fine selection of astrolabes, and Mughal paintings
Mughal paintings
and precious artwork including a large jade terrapin made for the Emperor Jahangir. Thousands of objects were excavated after the war by professional archaeologists at Iranian sites such as Siraf
Siraf
by David Whitehouse and Alamut Castle
Alamut Castle
by Peter Willey. The collection was augmented in 1983 by the Godman bequest of Iznik, Hispano-Moresque
Hispano-Moresque
and early Iranian pottery. Artefacts from the Islamic world are on display in Gallery 34 of the museum. A representative selection from the Department of Middle East, including the most important pieces, are on display in 13 galleries throughout the museum and total some 4,500 objects. A whole suite of rooms on the ground floor display the sculptured reliefs from the Assyrian palaces at Nineveh, Nimrud
Nimrud
and Khorsabad, while 8 galleries on the upper floor hold smaller material from ancient sites across the Middle East. The remainder form the study collection which ranges in size from beads to large sculptures. They include approximately 130,000 cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia.[67] Key highlights of the collections include: Nimrud:

Assyrian palace reliefs
Assyrian palace reliefs
from:

The North-West Palace of Ashurnasirpal II, (883–859 BC) Palace of Adad-nirari III, (811–783 BC) The Sharrat-Niphi Temple, (c. 9th century BC) Temple of Ninurta, (c. 9th century BC) South-East Palace ('Burnt Palace'), (8th–7th century BC) Central- Palace of Tiglath-Pileser III, (745–727 BC) South-West Palace of Esarhaddon, (681–669 BC) The Nabu
Nabu
Temple (Ezida), (c. 7th century BC)

Sculptures:

Pair of Human Headed Lamassu
Lamassu
Lions, (883–859 BC) Human Headed Lamassu
Lamassu
Bull, sister piece in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (883–859 BC) Human Headed Lamassu
Lamassu
Lion, sister piece in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, (883–859 BC) Colossal Statue of a Lion, (883–859 BC) Stela and Statue of King Ashurnasirpal II, (883–859 BC) The Black Obelisk
Black Obelisk
of Shalmaneser III, (858–824 BC) Stela of Shamshi-Adad V, (824–811 BC) Rare Head of Human Headed 'Lamassu', recovered from the South-West Palace of Esarhaddon, (811–783 BC) Bilingual Assyrian lion weights
Assyrian lion weights
with both cuneiform and Phoenician inscriptions, (800–700 BC)

Nineveh:

Assyrian palace reliefs
Assyrian palace reliefs
and sculptures from:

South-West Palace of Sennacherib, (705–681 BC) North-Palace of Ashurbanipal, (c. 645 BC), including the Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal
Ashurbanipal
and Lachish
Lachish
relief The famous Garden Party Relief, (645 BC) White Obelisk of Ashurnasirpal I, (1050–1031 BC)

Royal Library
Library
of Ashurbanipal:

A large collection of cuneiform tablets of enormous importance, approximately 22,000 inscribed clay tablets, (7th century BC) The Flood Tablet, relating part of the famous Epic of Gilgamesh, (7th century BC) Taylor Prism, hexagonal clay foundation record, (691 BC)

Khorsabad
Khorsabad
and Balawat:

Alabaster
Alabaster
bas-reliefs from the Palace of Sargon II, (710–705 BC) Pair of Human Headed Winged Lamassu
Lamassu
Bulls, (710–705 BC) The Balawat Gates
Balawat Gates
of Shalmaneser III, (860 BC)

Ur:

The Standard of Ur
Standard of Ur
with depictions of war and peace, (2600 BC) Queen's Lyre
Queen's Lyre
and gold drinking cup from Queen Puabi's tomb, (2600 BC) The Ram in a Thicket, one of pair, the other is in Philadelphia, (2600–2400 BC) The Royal Game of Ur, an ancient game board, (2600–2400 BC)

Wider collection:

Plastered human skull
Plastered human skull
from Jericho, a very early form of portraiture, Palestine, (7000–6000 BC) Tell Brak
Tell Brak
Head, one of the oldest portrait busts from the Middle East, north east Syria, (3500–3300 BC) Uruk Trough, one of the earliest surviving works of narrative relief sculpture from the Middle East, southern Iraq, (3300–3000 BC) Statue of Idrimi
Statue of Idrimi
from the ancient city of Alalakh, southern Turkey, (1600 BC) A fine collection of Urartian
Urartian
bronzes, which now form the core of the Anatolian collection, eastern Turkey, (9th–6th centuries BC) Tablet of Shamash, depicting the sun-god Shamash, from Sippar, Iraq, (early 9th century BC) Two large Assyrian stelae from Kurkh, southern Turkey, (850 BC) Shebna Inscription
Shebna Inscription
from Siloam
Siloam
near Jerusalem, Israel, (7th century BC) East India
India
House Inscription from Babylon, Iraq, (604–562 BC) Lachish
Lachish
Letters, group of ostraka written in alphabetic Hebrew from Lachish, Israel, (586 BC) Cylinder of Nabonidus, foundation cylinder of King Nabonidus, Sippar, Iraq, (555–540 BC) The famous Oxus Treasure, the largest ancient Persian hoard of gold artefacts, (550–330 BC) The Punic-Libyan Inscription
Punic-Libyan Inscription
from the Mausoleum
Mausoleum
of Ateban, Dougga, Tunisia, (146 BC) Amran Tablets
Amran Tablets
found near Sana'a, Yemen, (1st century BC) Two limestone ossuaries from caves in Jerusalem, (1st century AD)

Room 56 – The 'Ram in a Thicket' figure, one of a pair, from Ur, Southern Iraq, c. 2600 BC

Room 56 – The famous 'Standard of Ur', a hollow wooden box with scenes of war and peace, from Ur, c. 2600 BC

Room 56 - Sculpture of the god Imdugud, lion-headed eagle surmounting a lintel made from sheets of copper, Temple of Ninhursag
Ninhursag
at Tell al-`Ubaid, Iraq, c. 2500 BC

Room 56 - Statue of Kurlil, from the Temple of Ninhursag
Ninhursag
in Tell al-`Ubaid, southern Iraq, c. 2500 BC

Room 56 – The famous Babylonian 'Queen of the Night relief' of the goddess Ishtar, Iraq, c. 1790 BC

Room 57 - Carved ivory object from the Nimrud
Nimrud
Ivories, Phoenician, Nimrud, Iraq, 9th–8th century BC

Room 6 – Depiction of the hypocrite, Jehu, King of Israel on the Black Obelisk
Black Obelisk
of Shalmaneser III, Nimrud, c. 827 BC

Room 10 – Human Headed Winged Bulls from Khorsabad, companion pieces in the Musée du Louvre, Iraq, 710–705 BC

Room 55 – Cuneiform Collection, including the Epic of Gilgamesh, Iraq, c. 669-631 BC

Room 55 – Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal
Ashurbanipal
(detail), Nineveh, Neo-Assyrian, Iraq, c. 645 BC

Room 55 - Panel with striding lion made from glazed bricks, Neo-Babylonian, Nebuchadnezzar II, Southern Iraq, 604–562 BC

Room 52 – A chariot from the Oxus Treasure, the most important surviving collection of Achaemenid
Achaemenid
Persian metalwork, c. 5th to 4th centuries BC

Room 53 - Stela said to come from Tamma' cemetery, Yemen, 1st century AD

Room 53 - Alabaster
Alabaster
statue of a standing female figure, Yemen, 1st-2nd centuries AD

Room 34 - Cylindrical lidded box with an Arabic inscription recording its manufacture for the ruler of Mosul, Badr al-Din Lu'lu', Iraq, c. 1233 – 1259 AD

Department of Prints and Drawings[edit] The Department of Prints and Drawings holds the national collection of Western prints and drawings. It ranks as one of the largest and best print room collections in existence alongside the Albertina in Vienna, the Paris collections and the Hermitage. The holdings are easily accessible to the general public in the Study Room, unlike many such collections.[68] The department also has its own exhibition gallery in Room 90, where the displays and exhibitions change several times a year.[69] Since its foundation in 1808, the prints and drawings collection has grown to international renown as one of the richest and most representative collections in the world. There are approximately 50,000 drawings and over two million prints.[69] The collection of drawings covers the period from the 14th century to the present, and includes many works of the highest quality by the leading artists of the European schools. The collection of prints covers the tradition of fine printmaking from its beginnings in the 15th century up to the present, with near complete holdings of most of the great names before the 19th century. Key benefactors to the department have been Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode, Richard Payne Knight, John Malcolm, Campbell Dodgson, César Mange de Hauke and Tomás Harris. There are groups of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, (including his only surviving full-scale cartoon), Dürer (a collection of 138 drawings is one of the finest in existence), Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt, Claude and Watteau, and largely complete collections of the works of all the great printmakers including Dürer (99 engravings, 6 etchings and most of his 346 woodcuts), Rembrandt
Rembrandt
and Goya. More than 30,000 British drawings and watercolours include important examples of work by Hogarth, Sandby, Turner, Girtin, Constable, Cotman, Cox, Gillray, Rowlandson and Cruikshank, as well as all the great Victorians. There are about a million British prints including more than 20,000 satires and outstanding collections of works by William Blake
William Blake
and Thomas Bewick.[citation needed]. The great eleven volume Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires Preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum
British Museum
compiled between 1870 and 1954 is the definitive reference work for the study of British Satirical prints. Over 500,000 objects from the department are now on the online collection database, many with high quality images.[70] A 2011 donation of £1 million enabled the museum to acquire a complete set of Pablo Picasso's Vollard Suite.[71]

Rogier van der Weyden
Rogier van der Weyden
- Portrait of a Young Woman, c. 1440

Hieronymus Bosch
Hieronymus Bosch
- A comical barber scene, c. 1477-1516

Sandro Botticelli
Sandro Botticelli
- Allegory
Allegory
of Abundance, 1480-1485

Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
– The Virgin and Child
Virgin and Child
with Saint Anne
Saint Anne
and the Infant Saint John the Baptist
John the Baptist
(prep for 'The Burlington House Cartoon'), c. 1499–1500

Michelangelo
Michelangelo
– Studies of a reclining male nude: Adam
Adam
in the fresco 'The Creation of Man' on the vault of the Sistine Chapel, c. 1511

Raphael
Raphael
– Study of Heads, Mother and Child, c. 1509-11

Titian
Titian
– Drowning of the Pharaoh's Host in the Red Sea, 1515–17

Albrecht Dürer
Albrecht Dürer
- Drawing of a walrus, 1521

Hans Holbein the Younger
Hans Holbein the Younger
- Portrait of Anne Boleyn, 1536

Peter Paul Rubens
Peter Paul Rubens
- Drawing of a lioness, c. 1614-1615

Francisco de Zurbarán
Francisco de Zurbarán
- Head of a monk, 1625–64

Claude Lorrain
Claude Lorrain
- Drawing of mules, including one full-length, 1630-1640

Rembrandt
Rembrandt
– The Lamentation at the Foot of the Cross, 1634–35

Thomas Gainsborough
Thomas Gainsborough
- Drawing of a woman with a rose, 1763-1765

JMW Turner
JMW Turner
- Watercolour of Newport Castle, 1796

Isaac Cruikshank
Isaac Cruikshank
- 'The happy effects of that grand system of shutting ports against the English!!', 1808

John Constable
John Constable
- London
London
from Hampstead Heath
Hampstead Heath
in a Storm, (watercolour), 1831

James McNeill Whistler
James McNeill Whistler
- View of the Battersea side of Chelsea Reach, London, (lithograph), 1878

Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh
- Man Digging in the Orchard (print), 1883

Department of Britain, Europe and Prehistory[edit]

Display case of Renaissance
Renaissance
metalware from the Waddesdon Bequest

The Department of Britain, Europe and Prehistory
Prehistory
was established in 1969 and is responsible for collections that cover a vast expanse of time and geography. It includes some of the earliest objects made by humans in east Africa over 2 million years ago, as well as Prehistoric and neolithic objects from other parts of the world; and the art and archaeology of Europe from the earliest times to the present day. Archeological excavation of prehistoric material took off and expanded considerably in the twentieth century and the department now has literally millions of objects from the Paleolithic
Paleolithic
and Mesolithic periods throughout the world, as well as from the Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron age
Iron age
in Europe. Stone Age material from Africa has been donated by famous archaeologists such as Louis and Mary Leakey, and Gertrude Caton–Thompson. Paleolithic
Paleolithic
objects from the Sturge, Christy and Lartet collections include some of the earliest works of art from Europe. Many Bronze Age
Bronze Age
objects from across Europe were added during the nineteenth century, often from large collections built up by excavators and scholars such as Greenwell in Britain, Tobin and Cooke in Ireland, Lukis and de la Grancière in Brittany, Worsaae in Denmark, Siret at El Argar
El Argar
in Spain, and Klemm and Edelmann in Germany. A representative selection of Iron Age artefacts from Hallstatt
Hallstatt
were acquired as a result of the Evans/Lubbock excavations and from Giubiasco
Giubiasco
in Ticino
Ticino
through the Swiss National Museum. In addition, the British Museum's collections covering the period AD 300 to 1100 are among the largest and most comprehensive in the world, extending from Spain
Spain
to the Black Sea
Black Sea
and from North Africa to Scandinavia; a representative selection of these has recently been redisplayed in a newly refurbished gallery. Important collections include Latvian, Norwegian, Gotlandic and Merovingian
Merovingian
material from Johann Karl Bähr, Alfred Heneage Cocks, Sir James Curle and Philippe Delamain respectively. However, the undoubted highlight from the early mediaeval period are the magnificent items from the Sutton Hoo
Sutton Hoo
royal grave, generously donated to the nation by the landowner Edith Pretty. The department includes the national collection of horology with one of the most wide-ranging assemblage of clocks, watches and other timepieces in Europe, with masterpieces from every period in the development of time-keeping. Choice horological pieces came from the Morgan and Ilbert collections. The department is also responsible for the curation of Romano-British
Romano-British
objects – the museum has by far the most extensive such collection in Britain and one of the most representative regional collections in Europe outside Italy. It is particularly famous for the large number of late Roman silver treasures, many of which were found in East Anglia, the most important of which is the Mildenhall Treasure. The museum purchased many Roman-British objects from the antiquarian Charles Roach Smith
Charles Roach Smith
in 1856. These quickly formed the nucleus of the collection. Objects from the Department of Prehistory
Prehistory
and Europe are mostly found on the upper floor of the museum, with a suite of galleries numbered from 38 to 51. Most of the collection is stored in its archive facilities, where it is available for research and study. Key highlights of the collections include: Stone Age (c. 3.4 million years BC – c. 2000 BC)

Palaeolithic
Palaeolithic
material from across Africa, particularly Olduvai, Kalambo Falls, Olorgesailie
Olorgesailie
and Cape Flats, (1.8 million BC onwards) One of the 11 leaf-shaped points found near Volgu, Saône-et-Loire, France and estimated to be 16,000 years old[72] Ice Age art from France including the Wolverine pendant of Les Eyzies, Montastruc decorated stone and Baton fragment, (c. 12–11,000 BC) Ice Age art from Britain including the decorated jaw from Kendrick and Robin Hood Cave Horse, (11,500–10,000 BC) Rare mesolithic artefacts from the site of Star Carr
Star Carr
in Yorkshire, northern England, (8770–8460 BC) Terracotta
Terracotta
figurine from Vinča, Serbia, (5200–4900 BC) Callaïs bead jewellery from Lannec-er-Ro'h and triangular pendant from Mané-er-Hroëk, Morbihan, Brittany, western France, (4700–4300 BC) Section of the Sweet Track, an ancient timber causeway from the Somerset Levels, England, (3807/6 BC) A number of Carved Stone Balls
Carved Stone Balls
from Scotland, Ireland and northern England, (3200–2500 BC) The three Folkton Drums, made from chalk and found in Yorkshire, northern England, (2600–2100 BC)

Bronze Age
Bronze Age
(c. 3300 BC – c. 600 BC)

Jet beaded necklace from Melfort in Argyll, Scotland, (c.3000 BC) Gold lunula
Gold lunula
from Blessington, Ireland, one of nine from Ireland, Wales and Cornwall, (2400–2000 BC) Early Bronze Age
Bronze Age
hoards from Snowshill, Driffield
Driffield
and Barnack
Barnack
in England, Arraiolos
Arraiolos
and Vendas Novas
Vendas Novas
in Iberia and Neunheilingen
Neunheilingen
and Biecz
Biecz
in central Europe (2280–1500 BC) Contents of the Rillaton Barrow
Rillaton Barrow
including a gold cup, and the related Ringlemere Cup, England, (1700–1500 BC) Bronze Age
Bronze Age
hoards from Zsujta, Forró and Paks- Dunaföldvár
Dunaföldvár
in Hungary, (1600–1000 BC) Large ceremonial swords or dirks from Oxborough and Beaune, western Europe, (1450–1300 BC) Bronze shields from Moel Hebog and Rhyd-y-gors, Wales, (12th–10th centuries BC) Gold hoards from Morvah
Morvah
and Towednack
Towednack
in Cornwall, Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire and Mooghaun in Ireland, (1150–750 BC) Dunaverney flesh-hook
Dunaverney flesh-hook
found near Ballymoney, Northern Ireland and part of the Dowris Hoard
Hoard
from County Offaly, Ireland, (1050–900 BC & 900–600 BC) Late Bronze Age
Bronze Age
gold hoard from Abia de la Obispalía, Spain
Spain
and an intricate gold collar from Sintra, Portugal, (10th–8th centuries BC)

Iron Age (c. 600 BC – c. 1st century AD)

Basse Yutz Flagons, a pair of bronze drinking vessels from Moselle, eastern France, (5th century BC) Morel collection of La Tène material from eastern France, including the Somme-Bionne
Somme-Bionne
chariot burial and the Prunay
Prunay
Vase, (450-300BC) Important finds from the River Thames
River Thames
including the Wandsworth Shield, Battersea Shield
Battersea Shield
and Waterloo Helmet, as well as the Witham Shield from Lincolnshire, eastern England, (350–50 BC) Pair of gold collars called the Orense Torcs
Orense Torcs
from northwest Spain, (300–150 BC) Other gold neck collars including the Ipswich Hoard
Hoard
and the Sedgeford Torc, England, (200–50 BC) Winchester Hoard
Hoard
of gold jewellery from southern England and the Great Torc from Snettisham in Norfolk, East Anglia, (100 BC) Cordoba and Arcillera
Arcillera
Treasures, two silver Celtic hoards from Spain, (100–20 BC) Lindow Man
Lindow Man
found by accident in a peat bog in Cheshire, England, (1st century AD) Stanwick Hoard
Hoard
of horse and chariot fittings and the Meyrick Helmet, northern England, (1st century AD) Lochar Moss Torc
Lochar Moss Torc
and two massive pairs of bronze armlets from Muthill and Strathdon, Scotland, (50–200 AD)

Romano-British
Romano-British
(43 AD – 410 AD)

Tombstone of Roman procurator Gaius Julius Alpinus Classicianus
Gaius Julius Alpinus Classicianus
from London, (1st century AD) Ribchester, Guisborough and Witcham
Witcham
helmets once worn by Roman cavalry in Britain, (1st–2nd centuries AD) Elaborate gold bracelets and ring found near Rhayader, central Wales, (1st–2nd centuries AD) Bronze heads of the Roman Emperors Hadrian
Hadrian
and Claudius, found in London
London
and Suffolk, (1st–2nd centuries AD) Vindolanda Tablets, important historical documents found near Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland, (1st–2nd centuries AD) Wall-paintings and sculptures from the Roman Villa at Lullingstone, Kent, south east England,1st–4th centuries AD) Capheaton and Backworth
Backworth
treasures, remnants of two important hoards from northern England, (2nd–3rd centuries AD) Stony Stratford Hoard
Hoard
of copper headdresses, fibulae and silver votive plaques, central England, (3rd century AD) Gold jewellery deposited at the site of Newgrange, Ireland, (4th century AD) Thetford Hoard, late Roman jewellery from eastern England, (4th century AD)

Early Mediaeval (c. 4th century AD – c. 1000 AD)

Part of the Asyut, Domagnano, Artres, Sutri, Bergamo and Belluno Treasures, (4th–7th centuries AD) Lycurgus Cup, a unique figurative glass cage cup, and the Byzantine Archangel ivory
Archangel ivory
panel, (4th–6th centuries AD) The Sutton Hoo
Sutton Hoo
treasure and Taplow burial, with some of the greatest finds from the early Middle Ages in Europe, England, (6th–7th centuries AD) Two Viking hoards from Norway
Norway
known as the Lilleberge Viking Burial and Tromsø Burial
Tromsø Burial
and the Cuerdale Hoard
Hoard
from England, (7th–10th centuries AD) Irish reliquaries such as the Kells Crozier
Kells Crozier
and Bell Shrine of St. Cuileáin, (7th–11th centuries AD) Early Anglo Saxon Franks Casket, a unique ivory container from northern England, (8th century AD) A number of important pseudo-penannular brooches including the Londesborough Brooch
Londesborough Brooch
and the Breadalbane Brooch, Ireland and Scotland, (8th–9th centuries AD) Carolingian cut gems known as the Lothair Crystal
Lothair Crystal
and Saint-Denis Crystal, central Europe, (9th century AD) Anglo-Saxon Fuller and Strickland Brooches with their complex, niello-inlaid design, England, (9th century AD) Seax of Beagnoth, iron sword with long Anglo-Saxon Runic inscription, London, England, (10th century AD) The earlier of the River Witham swords

Mediaeval (c. 1000 AD – c. 1500 AD)

A number of mediaeval ivory panels including the Borradaile, Wernher and John Grandisson Triptychs, (10th–14th centuries AD) The famous Lewis chessmen
Lewis chessmen
found in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, (12th century AD) Reliquary of St. Eustace
Reliquary of St. Eustace
from the treasury of Basel Munster, Switzerland, (12th century AD) The unique Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle
Citole, an early form of guitar, central England, (1280–1330 AD) Savernake Horn, elephant ivory horn with silver gilt mounts, England and Scotland, (1325–1350 AD) Asante Jug, mysteriously found at the Asante Court in the late 19th century, England, (1390–1400 AD) Holy Thorn Reliquary
Holy Thorn Reliquary
bequeathed by Ferdinand de Rothschild as part of the Waddesdon Bequest, Paris, France, (14th century AD) Dunstable Swan Jewel, a gold and enamel brooch in the form of a swan, England, (14th century AD) A silver astrolabe quadrant from Canterbury, southeastern England, (14th century AD) Magnificent cups made from precious metal such as the Royal Gold Cup and the Lacock Cup, western Europe, (14th–15th centuries AD) The later of the River Witham swords

Renaissance
Renaissance
to Modern (c. 1500 AD – present)

The Armada Service, 26 silver dishes found in Devon, south west England, late 16th to early 17th centuries AD Early Renaissance
Renaissance
Lyte Jewel, presented to Thomas Lyte of Lytes Cary, Somerset by King James I of England, (1610) Huguenot
Huguenot
silver from the Peter Wilding bequest, England, (18th century AD) Pair of so-called Cleopatra Vases from the Chelsea porcelain factory, London, England, (1763) Jaspar ware vase known as the Pegasus Vase made by Josiah Wedgwood, England, (1786) Two of Charles Darwin's chronometers used on the voyage of HMS Beagle, (1795–1805) The Hull Grundy Gift of jewellery, Europe and North America, (19th century AD) Oak clock with mother-of-pearl engraving designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, (1919) Silver tea-infuser designed by Marianne Brandt
Marianne Brandt
from the Bauhaus
Bauhaus
art school, Germany, (1924) The Rosetta Vase, earthenware pottery vase designed by the contemporary British artist Grayson Perry, (2011)

The many hoards of treasure include those of Mildenhall, Esquiline, Carthage, First Cyprus, Lampsacus, Water Newton, Hoxne, and Vale of York, (4th–10th centuries AD)

Room 2 – Handaxe, Lower Palaeolithic, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, c. 1.2 million years BC

Room 3 – Swimming Reindeer
Swimming Reindeer
carving, France, c. 13,000 years BC[73]

Room 2 – Ain Sakhri
Ain Sakhri
lovers, from the cave of Ain Sakhri, near Bethlehem, c. 9000 BC[74]

Room 51 – Mold gold cape, North Wales, Bronze Age, c. 1900–1600 BC

Room 50 - Wandsworth Shield, Iron Age shield boss in La Tène style, England, 2nd century BC

Room 50 - Gold torc found in Needwood Forest, central England, 75 BC

Room 49 - Bronze head of a Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
Claudius, from Rendham in Suffolk, eastern England, 1st century AD

Room 49 – Hinton St Mary Mosaic
Hinton St Mary Mosaic
with face of Christ in the centre, from Dorset, southern England, 4th century AD

Room 49 - Corbridge Lanx, silver tray depicting a shrine to Apollo, northern England, 4th century AD

Room 41 - Silver objects from the Roman Coleraine
Coleraine
Hoard, Northern Ireland, 4th-5th centuries AD

Room 41 – Sutton Hoo
Sutton Hoo
helmet, Anglo-Saxon, England, early 7th century AD

Room 40 - Ivory statue of Virgin and Child, who is crushing a dragon under her left foot from Paris, France, 1310-1330 AD

Room 40 - Chaucer Astrolabe, the oldest dated in Europe, 1326 AD

Room 40 – Royal Gold Cup
Royal Gold Cup
or Saint Agnes Cup, made in Paris, France, 1370–80 AD

Room 45 – Holy Thorn Reliquary, made in Paris, c. 1390s AD

Room 38 – Mechanical Galleon
Mechanical Galleon
clock, Augsburg, Germany, around 1585 AD

Room 38 - Carillon clock with automata by Isaac Habrecht, Switzerland, 1589 AD

Room 39 - Ornate clock made by Thomas Tompion, England, 1690 AD

Department of Asia[edit] Main article: The British Museum
British Museum
Department of Asia

Room 95 – The Sir Percival David collection of Chinese ceramics

The scope of the Department of Asia is extremely broad; its collections of over 75,000 objects cover the material culture of the whole Asian continent (from East, South, Central and South-East Asia) and from the Neolithic
Neolithic
up to the present day. Until recently, this department concentrated on collecting Oriental antiquities from urban or semi-urban societies across the Asian continent. Many of those objects were collected by colonial officers and explorers in former parts of the British Empire, especially the Indian subcontinent. Examples include the collections made by individuals such as Charles Stuart, James Prinsep, Charles Masson, Sir Alexander Cunningham, Sir Harold Deane and Sir John Marshall. A large number of Chinese antiquities were purchased from the Anglo-Greek banker George Eumorfopoulos in the 1930s. In the second half of the twentieth century, the museum greatly benefited from the bequest of the philanthropist PT Brooke Sewell, which allowed the department to purchase many objects and fill in gaps in the collection.[75][76][77] In 2004, the ethnographic collections from Asia were transferred to the department. These reflect the diverse environment of the largest continent in the world and range from India
India
to China, the Middle East to Japan. Much of the ethnographic material comes from objects originally owned by tribal cultures and hunter-gatherers, many of whose way of life has disappeared in the last century. Particularly valuable collections are from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
(much assembled by the British naval officer Maurice Portman), Sri Lanka (especially through the colonial administrator Hugh Nevill), Northern Thailand, south-west China, the Ainu of Hokaidu in Japan (chief among them the collection of the Scottish zoologist John Anderson), Siberia and the islands of South-East Asia, especially Borneo. The latter benefited from the purchase in 1905 of the Sarawak
Sarawak
collection put together by Dr Charles Hose, as well as from other colonial officers such as Edward A Jeffreys. In addition, a unique and valuable group of objects from Java, including shadow puppets and a gamelan musical set, was assembled by Sir Stamford Raffles. The principal gallery devoted to Asian art in the museum is Gallery 33 with its comprehensive display of Chinese, Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asian objects. An adjacent gallery showcases the Amaravati sculptures and monuments. Other galleries on the upper floors are devoted to its Japanese, Korean, painting and calligraphy, and Chinese ceramics collections. Key highlights of the collections include:[78]

The most comprehensive collection of sculpture from the Indian subcontinent in the world, including the celebrated Buddhist
Buddhist
limestone reliefs from Amaravati excavated by Sir Walter Elliot[79] An outstanding collection of Chinese antiquities, paintings, and porcelain, lacquer, bronze, jade, and other applied arts The most comprehensive collection of Japanese pre-20th century art in the Western world, many of which originally belonged to the surgeon William Anderson and diplomat Ernest Mason Satow

East Asia

A large collection of Chinese ritual bronzes, (from c. 1500 BC onwards) Huixian Bronze Hu, an identical pair of bronze vessels from the Eastern Zhou period, China, (5th century BC) Japanese antiquities from the Kofun period
Kofun period
excavated by the pioneering archaeologist William Gowland, (3rd–6th centuries AD) The famous Admonitions Scroll
Admonitions Scroll
by Chinese artist Gu Kaizhi, (344–406 AD) The colossal Amitābha
Amitābha
Buddha
Buddha
from Hancui, China, (585 AD) A set of ceramic Tang dynasty tomb figures of Liu Tingxun, (c.728 AD) Seated Luohan from Yixian, one from a set of eight surviving statues, China, (907–1125 AD) A fine assemblage of Buddhist
Buddhist
paintings from Dunhuang, western China, collected by the British-Hungarian explorer Aurel Stein, (5th–11th centuries AD) Pericival David collection of Chinese ceramics, (10th–18th centuries AD) Ivory stand in the form of a seated lion, Chos-'khor-yan-rtse monastery in Tibet, (13th century AD) Pair of ceramic Kakiemon elephants
Kakiemon elephants
from Japan, (17th century AD) Japanese prints including The Great Wave off Kanagawa, (1829–32)

South Asia

Excavated objects from the Indus Valley sites of Mohenjo-daro, and Harappa, Pakistan, (2500–2000 BC) Sandstone fragment of a Pillar of Ashoka with Brahmi
Brahmi
inscription from Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, India, (238 BC) The Kulu Vase
Kulu Vase
found near a monastery in Himachal Pradesh, one of the earliest examples of figurative art from the sub-continent, northern India, (1st century BC) Copper plate from Taxila, with important Kharoshthi inscription, Pakistan, (1st century BC – 1st century AD) Indo-Scythian sandstone Mathura Lion Capital and Bracket figure from one of the gateways to the Great Stupa at Sanchi, central India, (1st century AD) Bimaran Casket and Wardak Vase, reliquaries from ancient stupas in Afghanistan, (1st–2nd centuries AD) Relic deposits from the stupas at Manikyala, Ahin Posh, Sanchi
Sanchi
and Gudivada, (1st–3rd centuries AD) Seated Buddha
Buddha
from Gandhara, and other Gandhara objects from Kafir Kot, Jamal Garhi
Jamal Garhi
and Takht-i-Bahi, Pakistan, (1st–3rd centuries AD) The Buddhapad Hoard
Hoard
of bronze images from southern India, (6th–8th centuries AD) Stone statue of Buddha
Buddha
from the Sultanganj hoard, Bihar, eastern India. (7th–8th centuries AD) Statue of Tara
Statue of Tara
from Sri Lanka and the Thanjavur Shiva
Thanjavur Shiva
from Tamil Nadu, southern India, (8th century & 10th century AD) Statue of the goddess Ambika found at Dhar
Dhar
in central India, (1034 AD) Sculpture of the two Jain tirthankaras Rishabhanatha
Rishabhanatha
and Mahavira, Orissa, India, 11th–12th century AD

South-east Asia

Earthenware tazza from the Phùng Nguyên culture, northern Vietnam, (2000–1500 BC) Pottery vessels and sherds from the ancient site of Ban Chiang, Thailand, (10th–1st centuries BC) Bronze bell from Klang, Malaysia, (2nd century BC) Group of six Buddhist
Buddhist
clay votive plaques found in a cave in Patania, Penang, Malaysia (6th–11th centuries AD) The famous Sambas Treasure
Sambas Treasure
of buddhist gold and silver figures from west Borneo, Indonesia, (8th–9th centuries AD) Two stone Buddha
Buddha
heads from the temple at Borobodur
Borobodur
in Java, Indonesia, (9th century AD) Sandstone Champa
Champa
figure of a rampant lion, Vietnam, (11th century AD) Stone figure representing the upper part of an eleven-headed Avalokiteśvara, Cambodia, (12th century AD) Bronze figure of a seated Buddha
Buddha
from Bagan, Burma, (12th–13th centuries AD) Hoard
Hoard
of Southern Song dynasty
Southern Song dynasty
ceramic vessels excavated at Pinagbayanan, Taysan
Taysan
Municipality, Philippines, (12th–13th centuries AD) Statue of the Goddess Mamaki from Candi Jago, eastern Java, Indonesia, (13th–14th centuries AD) Inscribed bronze figure of a Buddha
Buddha
from Fang District, part of a large SE Asian collection amassed by the Norwegian explorer Carl Bock, Thailand, (1540 AD)

Room 33 - One of the hu from Huixian, China, 5th century BC

Room 33 - A hamsa sacred goose vessel made of crystal from Stupa 32, Taxila, Pakistan, 1st century AD

Room 33 - Stone sculpture of the death of Buddha, Gandhara, Pakistan, 1st-3rd centuries AD

Room 33a - Amaravati Sculptures, southern India, 1st century BC and 3rd century AD

Room 91a - Section of the Admonitions Scroll
Admonitions Scroll
by Chinese artist Gu Kaizhi, China, c. 380 AD

Room 33 - Gilded bronze statue of the Buddha, Dhaneswar Khera, India, 5th century AD

The Amitābha Buddha from Hancui
Amitābha Buddha from Hancui
on display in the museum's stairwell, China, 6th century AD

Room 33 - The luohan from Yixian made of glazed stoneware, China, 907-1125 AD

Sculpture of Goddess Ambika found at Dhar, India, 1034 AD

Sculpture of the two Jain tirthankaras Rishabhanatha
Rishabhanatha
and Mahavira, Orissa, India, 11th-12th century AD

Room 33 - Western Zhou bronze ritual vessel known as the "Kang Hou Gui", China, 11th century BC

Room 33 - A crowned figure of the Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
Khasarpana Avalokiteśvara, India, 12th century AD

Room 33 - Covered hanging jar with underglaze decoration, Si Satchanalai (Sawankalok), north-central Thailand, 14th-16th centuries AD

Room 33 - Hu-shaped altar flower vessel, Ming dynasty, China, 15th -16th centuries AD

Room 33 - An assistant to the Judge of Hell, figure from a judgement group, Ming dynasty, China, 16th century AD

Room 33 - Statue of Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
Avalokiteshvara, gilded bronze. Nepal, 16th century AD

Portrait of Ibrâhîm 'Âdil Shâh II (1580–1626), Mughal Empire
Mughal Empire
of India, 1615 AD

Room 90 - Courtesans of the Tamaya House, attributed to Utagawa Toyoharu, screen painting; Japan, Edo period, late 1770s or early 1780s AD

Room 33 - Statue of Buddha
Buddha
from Burma, 18th-19th century AD

Room 33 - Figure of seated Lama; of painted and varnished papier-mâché, Ladakh, Tibet, 19th century AD

Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas[edit]

Room 24 – The Wellcome Trust
Wellcome Trust
Gallery of Living and Dying, with Hoa Hakananai'a, a moai, in the centre

The British Museum
British Museum
houses one of the world's most comprehensive collections of Ethnographic
Ethnographic
material from Africa, Oceania and the Americas, representing the cultures of indigenous peoples throughout the world. Over 350,000 objects[80] spanning thousands of years tells the history of mankind from three major continents and many rich and diverse cultures; the collecting of modern artefacts is ongoing. Many individuals have added to the department's collection over the years but those assembled by Henry Christy, Harry Beasley and William Oldman are outstanding. Objects from this department are mostly on display in several galleries on the ground and lower floors. Gallery 24 displays ethnographic from every continent while adjacent galleries focus on North America
North America
and Mexico. A long suite of rooms (Gallery 25) on the lower floor display African art. There are plans in place to develop permanent galleries for showcasing art from Oceania and South America. Africa

Room 25 – Collection of African throwing knives

The Sainsbury African Galleries display 600 objects from the greatest permanent collection of African arts and culture in the world. The three permanent galleries provide a substantial exhibition space for the museum's African collection comprising over 200,000 objects. A curatorial scope that encompasses both archaeological and contemporary material, including both unique masterpieces of artistry and objects of everyday life. A great addition was material amassed by Sir Henry Wellcome, which was donated by the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum in 1954. Highlights of the African collection include objects found at megalithic circles in The Gambia, a dozen exquisite Afro-Portuguese ivories, a series of soapstone figures from the Kissi people in Sierra Leone and Liberia, Asante goldwork and regalia from Ghana
Ghana
including the Bowdich collection, the rare Akan Drum
Akan Drum
from the same region in west Africa, the Benin and Igbo-Ukwu
Igbo-Ukwu
bronze sculptures, the beautiful Bronze Head of Queen Idia, a magnificent brass head of a Yoruba ruler and quartz throne from Ife, a similar terracotta head from Iwinrin Grove near Ife, the Apapa Hoard
Hoard
from Lagos, southern Nigeria, an Ikom monolith from Cross River State, the Torday collection of central African sculpture, textiles and weaponry from the Kuba Kingdom including three royal figures, the unique Luzira Head from Uganda, processional crosses and other ecclesiastical and royal material from Gondar
Gondar
and Magdala, Ethiopia
Ethiopia
following the British Expedition to Abyssinia, excavated objects from Great Zimbabwe
Great Zimbabwe
(that includes a unique soapstone, anthropomorphic figure) and satellite towns such as Mutare
Mutare
including a large hoard of Iron Age soapstone figures, a rare divining bowl from the Venda
Venda
peoples and cave paintings and petroglyphs from South Africa. Oceania The British Museum's Oceanic collections originate from the vast area of the Pacific Ocean, stretching from Papua New Guinea
New Guinea
to Easter Island, from New Zealand to Hawaii. The three main anthropological groups represented in the collection are Polynesia, Melanesia
Melanesia
and Micronesia
Micronesia
Aboriginal art
Aboriginal art
from Australia
Australia
is considered separately in its own right. Metal working was not indigenous to Oceania before Europeans arrived, so many of the artefacts from the collection are made from stone, shell, bone and bamboo. Prehistoric
Prehistoric
objects from the region include a bird-shaped pestle and a group of stone mortars from Papua New Guinea. The British Museum
British Museum
is fortunate in having some of the earliest Oceanic and Pacific collections, many of which were put together by members of Cook's and Vancouver's expeditions or by colonial administrators such as Sir George Grey, Sir Frederick Broome and Arthur Gordon, before Western culture significantly impacted on indigenous cultures. The Wilson cabinet of curiosities from Palau
Palau
is another example of pre-contact ware. The department has also benefited greatly from the legacy of pioneering anthropologists such as Bronisław Malinowski
Bronisław Malinowski
and Katherine Routledge. In addition, the Māori collection is the finest outside New Zealand with many intricately carved wooden and jade objects and the Aboriginal art
Aboriginal art
collection is distinguished by its wide range of bark paintings, including two very early bark etchings collected by John Hunter Kerr. A poignant artefact is the wooden shield found near Botany Bay
Botany Bay
during Cook's first voyage in 1770. A particularly important group of objects was purchased from the London
London
Missionary Society in 1911, that includes the unique statue of A'a from Rurutu Island, the rare idol from the isle of Mangareva and the Cook Islands deity figure. Other highlights include the huge Hawaiian statue of Kū-ka-ili-moku or god of war (one of three extant in the world) and the famous Easter Island statues Hoa Hakananai'a
Hoa Hakananai'a
and Moai
Moai
Hava. Americas The Americas collection mainly consists of 19th and 20th century items although the Paracas, Moche, Inca, Maya, Aztec, Taino and other early cultures are well represented. The Kayung totem pole, which was made in the late nineteenth century in the Queen Charlotte Islands, dominates the Great Court and provides a fitting introduction to this very wide-ranging collections that stretches from the very north of the North American continent where the Inuit
Inuit
population has lived for centuries, to the tip of South America where indigenous tribes have long thrived in Patagonia. Highlights of the collection include Aboriginal Canadian objects from Alaska and Canada collected by the 5th Earl of Lonsdale and the Marquis of Lorne, the Squier and Davis collection of prehistoric mound relics from North America, a selection of pottery vessels found in cliff-dwellings at Mesa Verde, a collection of turquoise Aztec
Aztec
mosaics from Mexico
Mexico
(the largest in Europe), important artefacts from Teotihuacan and Isla de Sacrificios, several rare pre-Columbian manuscripts including the Codex Zouche-Nuttall and Codex Waecker-Gotter, a spectacular series of Mayan lintels from Yaxchilan
Yaxchilan
excavated by the British Mayanist Alfred Maudslay, a very high quality Mayan collection that includes sculptures from Copan, Tikal, Tulum, Pusilha, Naranjo
Naranjo
and Nebaj (including the celebrated Fenton Vase), a group of Zemi Figures from Vere, Jamaica, a number of prestigious pre-Columbian gold and votive objects from Colombia, ethnographic objects from across the Amazon region including the Schomburgk collection, two rare Tiwanaku
Tiwanaku
pottery vessels from Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca
and important items from Tierra del Fuego donated by Commander Phillip Parker King.

Room 26 - Stone pipe representing an otter from Mound City, Ohio, USA, 200 BC - 400 AD

Room 2 - Stone tomb guardian, part human part jaguar, from San Agustín, Colombia, c. 300-600 AD

Room 1 - Maya maize god statue from Copán, Honduras, 600-800 AD

Room 24 - Gold Lime Flasks (poporos), Quimbaya Culture, Colombia, 600-1100 AD

Room 27 - Lintel 25 from Yaxchilan, Late Classic, Mexico, 600-900 AD

Room 24 - Bird pectoral made from gold alloy, Popayán, Colombia, 900-1600 AD

Room 24 – Rapa Nui statue Hoa Hakananai'a, 1000 AD, Wellcome Trust Gallery

Room 27 - Double-headed serpent
Double-headed serpent
turquoise mosaic, Aztec, Mexico, 1400-1500 AD

Room 27 - Turquoise Mosaic Mask, Mixtec-Aztec, Mexico, 1400-1500 AD

Room 2 - Miniature gold llama figurine, Inca, Peru, about 1500 AD

Room 25 - Part of the famous collection of Benin brass plaques, Nigeria, 1500-1600 AD

Room 25 - Detail of one of the Benin brass plaques in the museum, Nigeria, 1500-1600 AD

Room 25 - Benin ivory mask
Benin ivory mask
of Queen Idia, Nigeria, 16th century AD

Room 24 - Hawaiian feather helmet or mahiole, late 1700s AD

Great Court - Two house frontal totem poles, Haida, British Columbia, Canada, about 1850 AD

Room 25 - Mask (wood and pigment); Punu people, Gabon, 19th century AD

Room 25 - Otobo masquerade in the Africa Gallery, Nigeria, 20th century AD

Room 25 - Modern interpretation of kente cloth from Ghana, late 20th century AD

Department of Coins and Medals[edit] Main article: British Museum
British Museum
Department of Coins and Medals The British Museum
British Museum
is home to one of the world's finest numismatic collections, comprising about a million objects, including coins, medals, tokens and paper money. The collection spans the entire history of coinage from its origins in the 7th century BC to the present day and is representative of both the East and West. The Department of Coins and Medals was created in 1861 and celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2011.[81] Department of Conservation and Scientific Research[edit] This department was founded in 1920. Conservation has six specialist areas: ceramics & glass; metals; organic material (including textiles); stone, wall paintings and mosaics; Eastern pictorial art and Western pictorial art. The science department[82] has and continues to develop techniques to date artefacts, analyse and identify the materials used in their manufacture, to identify the place an artefact originated and the techniques used in their creation. The department also publishes its findings and discoveries. Libraries and archives[edit] This department covers all levels of education, from casual visitors, schools, degree level and beyond. The museum's various libraries hold in excess of 350,000 books, journals and pamphlets covering all areas of the museum's collection. Also the general museum archives which date from its foundation in 1753 are overseen by this department; the individual departments have their own separate archives and libraries covering their various areas of responsibility, which can be consulted by the public on application. The Anthropology
Anthropology
Library
Library
is especially large, with 120,000 volumes.[83] However, the Paul Hamlyn Library, which had become the central reference library of the British Museum and the only library there freely open to the general public, closed permanently in August 2011.[84] The website and online database of the collection also provide increasing amounts of information. British Museum
British Museum
Press[edit] The British Museum
British Museum
Press (BMP) is the publishing business and a division of the British Museum
British Museum
Company Ltd., a company and a charity (established in 1973) wholly owned by the trustees of the British Museum.[85] The BMP publishes both popular and scholarly illustrated books to accompany the exhibition programme and explore aspects of the general collection. Profits from their sales goes to support the British Museum.[85] Scholarly titles are published in the Research
Research
Publications series, all of which are peer-reviewed. This series was started in 1978 and was originally called Occasional Papers. The series is designed to disseminate research on items in the collection. Between six and eight titles are published each year in this series.[86] Controversy[edit]

A few of the Elgin Marbles
Elgin Marbles
(also known as the Parthenon
Parthenon
Marbles) from the East Pediment
Pediment
of the Parthenon
Parthenon
in Athens.

It is a point of controversy whether museums should be allowed to possess artifacts taken from other countries,[citation needed] and the British Museum
British Museum
is a notable target for criticism. The Elgin Marbles, Benin Bronzes
Benin Bronzes
and the Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone
are among the most disputed objects in its collections, and organisations have been formed demanding the return of these artefacts to their native countries of Greece, Nigeria
Nigeria
and Egypt
Egypt
respectively. Parthenon
Parthenon
Marbles claimed by Greece
Greece
were also claimed by UNESCO
UNESCO
among others for restitution. From 1801 to 1812, Elgin's agents took about half of the surviving sculptures of the Parthenon, as well as sculptures from the Propylaea and Erechtheum. In recent years, controversies pertaining to reparation of artefacts taken from the Old Summer Palace
Old Summer Palace
in Beijing
Beijing
during the Anglo-French invasion of China in 1860 have also begun to surface.[87] The ransacking and destruction of the Chinese palaces has led to unhealed historical wounds in Chinese culture. Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
condemned the French and British for their plundering.[88] The British Museum
British Museum
and the Victoria & Albert Museum, among others, have been asked since 2009 to open their archives for investigation by a team of Chinese investigators as a part of an international mission to document lost national treasures. However, there have been fears that the United Kingdom may be asked to return these treasures.[89] As of 2010[update], Neil MacGregor, the Director of the British Museum, said he hoped that both British and Chinese investigators would work together on the controversial collection, which continues to result in resentment in China.[90] The British Museum
British Museum
has refused to return these artefacts, stating that the "restitutionist premise, that whatever was made in a country must return to an original geographical site, would empty both the British Museum and the other great museums of the world".[91] The museum has also argued that the British Museum Act of 1963 legally prevents any object from leaving its collection once it has entered it. Nevertheless, it has returned items such as the Tasmanian Ashes after a 20-year-long battle with Australia.[92] The British Museum
British Museum
continues to assert that it is an appropriate custodian and has an inalienable right to its disputed artefacts under British law. In 2016, the British Museum
British Museum
moved its bag searches to marquees in the front courtyard and beside the rear entrance. This has been criticised by heritage groups as out-of-character with the historic building. The British Museum
British Museum
clarified that the change was purely logistical to save space in the main museum entrance and did not reflect any escalation in threat.[93] Disputed items in the collection[edit]

Elgin Marbles
Elgin Marbles
– claimed by Greece
Greece
and backed by UNESCO
UNESCO
among others for restitution[94] Benin Bronzes
Benin Bronzes
– claimed by Nigeria, 30 pieces sold by the British Museum privately to the Nigerian government in the 1950s[95] Ethiopian Tabots – claimed by Ethiopia[96][97] Four stolen drawings (Nazi plunder) – Compensation paid to Uri Peled for the amount of £175,000 by the British Museum[98] Achaemenid
Achaemenid
empire gold and silver artefacts from the Oxus Treasure
Oxus Treasure
– claimed by Tajikistan[99] Aboriginal human remains – returned to Tasmania
Tasmania
by the British Museum[92] Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone
– claimed by Egypt[100] Some 24,000+ scrolls, manuscripts, paintings, scriptures, and relics from the Mogao Caves, including the Diamond Sutra
Diamond Sutra
– claimed by the People's Republic of China[101]

Galleries[edit]

Building

Main Staircase, Discobolus
Discobolus
of Myron (the Discus-Thrower)

British Museum
British Museum
Reading Room

Ceiling of the Great Court and the black siltstone obelisks of Nectanebo II, c. 350 BC

Detail of an Ionic capital on a pilaster in the Great Court

African Garden – created by BBC TV
BBC TV
programme Ground Force

Museum Galleries

Department of Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
and Sudan

Room 4 – Egyptian Sculpture, view towards the Assyrian Transept

Room 4

Room 4

Department of the Middle East

The British Museum, Room 6 – Assyrian Sculpture

Room 8 – Pair of Lamassu
Lamassu
from Nimrud
Nimrud
& reliefs from the palace of Tiglath-Pileser III

Room 7 – Reliefs
Reliefs
from the North-west palace of Ashurnasirpal II, Nimrud

Room 89 – Nimrud
Nimrud
& Nineveh
Nineveh
Palace Reliefs

Room 10 – Nineveh, The Royal Lion Hunt

Department of Greece
Greece
and Rome

Room 18 – Ancient Greece

Room 20a – Tomb of Merehi & Greek Vases, Lycia, 360 BC

Room 85 – Portrait Sculpture, Roman

Room 83 – Roman Sculpture

Room 84 – Towneley Roman Sculptures

Main Staircase – Discobolus, Roman

Main Staircase – Townley Caryatid, Roman, 140–160 AD

Digital and online[edit] The museum has a collaboration with the Google Cultural Institute to bring the collection online.[102]

Exhibitions

Forgotten Empire Exhibition (October 2005 – January 2006)

Room 5 – Exhibitions Panorama

Room 5 – The Persepolis
Persepolis
Casts

Room 5 – Exhibitions Relics

Room 5 – The Cyrus Cylinder

Notes[edit]

^ Sculptures and applied art are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum
British Museum
houses earlier art, non-Western art, prints and drawings, and art of a later date is at Tate
Tate
Modern. The National Gallery, holds the National Collection of Western European Art, with Tate Britain
Tate Britain
deposited with British Art
Art
from 1500. ^ By the Act of Parliament
Act of Parliament
it received a name – the British Museum. The origin of the name is not known; the word 'British' had some resonance nationally at this period, so soon after the Jacobite rebellion of 1745; it must be assumed that the museum was christened in this light.[9] ^ The estimated footage of the various libraries as reported to the trustees has been summarised by Harris (1998), 3,6: Sloane 4,600, Harley 1,700, Cotton 384, Edwards 576, The Royal Library
Library
1,890. ^ This was perhaps rather unfortunate as the title to the house was complicated by the fact that part of the building had been erected on leasehold property (the Crown lease of which ran out in 1771); perhaps that is why George III
George III
paid such a modest price (nominally £28,000) for what was to become Buckingham Palace. See Howard Colvinet al. (1976), 134. ^ Understanding of the foundation of the National Gallery
National Gallery
is complicated by the fact that there is no documented history of the institution. At first the National Gallery
National Gallery
functioned effectively as part of the British Museum, to which the trustees transferred most of their most important pictures (ex. portraits). Full control was handed over to the National Gallery
National Gallery
in 1868, after the Act of Parliament
Act of Parliament
of 1856 established the Gallery as an independent body. ^ Ashmole, the Keeper of the Greek and Roman Antiquities appreciated the original top-lighting of these galleries and removed the Victorian colour scheme, commenting:

The old Elgin Gallery was painted a deep terracotta red, which, though in some ways satisfactory, diminished its apparent size, and was apt to produce a depressing effect on the visitor. It was decided to experiment with lighter colours, and the walls of the large room were painted with what was, at its first application, a pure cold white, but which after a year's exposure had unfortunately yellowed. The small Elgin Room was painted with pure white tinted with prussian blue, and the Room of the metopes was painted with pure white tinted with cobalt blue and black; it was necessary, for practical reasons, to colour all the dadoes a darker colour[33]

^ Ashmole had never liked the Duveen Gallery:

It is, I suppose, not positively bad, but it could have been infinitely better. It is pretentious, in that it uses the ancient Marbles to decorate itself. This is a long outmoded idea, and the exact opposite of what a sculpture gallery should do. And, although it incorporates them, it is out of scale, and tends to dwarf them with its bogus Doric features, including those columns, supporting almost nothing which would have made an ancient Greek artist architect wince. The source of daylight is too high above the sculptures, a fault that is only concealed by the amount of reflection from the pinkish marble walls. These are too similar in colour to the marbles...These half-dozen elementary errors were pointed out by everyone in the Museum, and by many scholars outside, when the building was projected.[37]

It was not until the 1980s that the installation of a lighting scheme removed his greatest criticism of the building. ^ The Cairo
Cairo
Museum has 200,000 artefacts, with leading collections reposited at the Egyptian Museum
Egyptian Museum
of Berlin
Berlin
(100,000), Musée du Louvre (60,000), Petrie Museum (80,000), The Metropolitan Museum of art (26,000), University of Pennsylvania (42,000), Ashmolean Museum (40,000), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (40,000), Museo Egizio, Turin (32,500 objects).

References[edit]

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and the British Museum
British Museum
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British Museum
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Ephesus
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British Museum
Press, p. 5 ^ a b Caygill, Marjorie. "Creating a Great Museum: Early Collectors and The British Museum". Fathom. Archived from the original on 6 October 2007. Retrieved 13 November 2007.  ^ " British Museum
British Museum
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British Museum
for the purpose of compiling an anti-Semitic history of Anglo-Jewry, which, at the time, with its 562 pages and a bibliography of some 600 items, was an effort more ambitious than hitherto attempted.  ^ Wilson, David, M. (2002). The British Museum: A History. London: The British Museum
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British Museum
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plans £100m complex for blockbusters". The Guardian. London. p. 10. Retrieved 5 July 2007.  ^ " British Museum
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Egyptologist's View: The Return of Egyptian Antiquities is Not an Issue". Touregypt. Retrieved 4 July 2010.  ^ " Ancient Egypt
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and Sudan". British Museum. 14 June 2010. Archived from the original on 6 February 2007. Retrieved 4 July 2010.  ^ Tony Kitto, "The celebrated connoisseur: Charles Townley, 1737–1805" Minerva Magazine May/June 2005, in connection with a British Museum
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Research
Research
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– Conservation and Scientific Research". thebritishmuseum.ac.uk.  ^ See the "Facilities and Services" tab on the home page for each department for details on each library; not all are kept at Bloomsbury. Anthropology
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sold precious bronzes". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 27 April 2010.  ^ Johnson, Andrew (23 November 2008). " Ethiopia
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demands stolen crown back". Independent. Retrieved 24 August 2016.  ^ Hoffman, Barbara T. (2006). Art
Art
and Cultural Heritage: Law, Policy and Practice. Cambridge University Press. p. 5. ISBN 9780521857642.  ^ "News – Getting the Nazi stolen art back". Channel 4 News. 27 March 2007. Retrieved 4 July 2010.  ^ Harding, Luke (10 April 2007). "Tajik president calls for return of treasure from British Museum". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 27 April 2010.  ^ " Egypt
Egypt
calls for return of Rosetta Stone". BBC
BBC
News. 21 July 2003. Retrieved 27 April 2010.  ^ Larmer, Brook (June 2010). "Caves of Faith". National Geographic: 136–138. Retrieved 15 January 2015.  ^ " British Museum
British Museum
Online". 

Further reading[edit]

Anderson, Robert (2005). The Great Court and the British Museum. London: The British Museum
British Museum
Press Arrowsmith, Rupert Richard. Modernism and the Museum: Asian, African and Pacific Art
Art
and the London
London
Avant Garde. Oxford University
Oxford University
Press, 2011, pp. 103–164. ISBN 978-0-19-959369-9. Arrowsmith, Rupert Richard. "The Transcultural Roots of Modernism: Imagist Poetry, Japanese Visual Culture, and the Western Museum System", Modernism/modernity Volume 18, Number 1, January 2011, pp. 27–42. ISSN 1071-6068. Caygill, Marjorie (2006). The British Museum: 250 Years. London: The British Museum
British Museum
Press Caygill, Marjorie (2002). The Story of the British Museum. London: The British Museum
British Museum
Press Cook, B. F. (2005). The Elgin Marbles. London: The British Museum Press Esdaile, Arundell (1946) The British Museum
British Museum
Library: a Short History and Survey. London: Allen & Unwin Jenkins, Ian (2006). Greek Architecture and its Sculpture in The British Museum. London: The British Museum
British Museum
Press Francis, Frank, ed. (1971) Treasures of the British Museum. London: Thames & Hudson (rev. ed., 1975) Moser, Stephanie (2006). Wondrous Curiosities: Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
at The British Museum. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press Reade, Julian (2004). Assyrian Sculpture. London: The British Museum Press Reeve, John (2003). The British Museum: Visitor's Guide. London: The British Museum
British Museum
Press Wilson, David M. (2002). The British Museum: a history. London: The British Museum
British Museum
Press

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to British Museum.

Official website The British Museum
British Museum
from The Survey of London British Museum
British Museum
elevation Charity Commission. The British Museum
British Museum
Trust Ltd., registered charity no. 1140844.  Works by British Museum
British Museum
at Project Gutenberg Works by or about British Museum
British Museum
at Internet Archive

v t e

The British Museum

Building

Great Court King's Library Round Reading Room

Departments and objects

Africa, Oceania and Americas

Akan Drum Aubin Codex Benin Bronzes Briggs Enigma Codex Kingsborough Double-headed serpent Hoa Hakananai'a Throne of Weapons Kayung totem pole Tree of Life Yaxchilan
Yaxchilan
Lintel 24

Ancient Egypt and Sudan

Colossal head of Amenhotep III Gebelein predynastic mummies Hunters Palette Rhind Mathematical Papyrus Rosetta Stone Sphinx of Taharqo Younger Memnon

Asia

Admonitions Scroll Bimaran casket Kanishka casket Mathura lion capital Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art Seated Buddha
Buddha
from Gandhara Statue of Tara The Great Wave off Kanagawa

Greece and Rome

Bassae
Bassae
Frieze Elgin Marbles Esquiline Treasure Farnese Diadumenos Harpy Tomb Jennings Dog Lion of Knidos Minoan Bull-leaper Nereid Monument Portland Vase Warren Cup

Middle East

Black Obelisk
Black Obelisk
of Shalmaneser III Burney Relief Cylinder of Nabonidus Cyrus Cylinder Flood tablet (Gilgamesh) Library
Library
of Ashurbanipal Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal Oxus Treasure Taylor Prism Lachish
Lachish
reliefs Babylonian Chronicles Kurkh Monoliths

Prehistory and Europe

Franks Casket Holy Thorn Reliquary Hoxne Hoard Lewis chessmen Lindow Man Mildenhall Treasure Ringlemere Cup Royal Gold Cup Sutton Hoo Sutton Hoo
Sutton Hoo
helmet Sutton Hoo
Sutton Hoo
purse-lid Swimming Reindeer Vindolanda Tablets

Prints and Drawings

Dürer's Rhinoceros Epifania I Modi Isabella Brant The Ancient of Days The Disasters of War The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies Triumphal Arch

Other

Coins and Medals Conservation and Scientific Research Libraries and Archives Portable Antiquities and Treasure A History of the World in 100 Objects

Other

British Museum Act 1902 British Museum Act 1963 Directors Films shot at the British Museum Friends Royal Commission on the British Museum Trustees Secretum

Category Commons

v t e

Museums and galleries in London

List of museums in London

National museums

British Library British Museum Geffrye Museum Horniman Museum National Army Museum National Gallery National Portrait Gallery Natural History Museum Royal Air Force Museum Sir John Soane's Museum Wallace Collection

Imperial War Museums

Churchill War Rooms HMS Belfast Imperial War Museum
Imperial War Museum
London

Royal Museums Greenwich

Cutty Sark National Maritime Museum Queen's House Royal Observatory

Science Museum Group

Science Museum

Tate

Tate
Tate
Britain Tate
Tate
Modern

Victoria and Albert Museum

V&A Museum of Childhood

Designated collections

Courtauld Gallery Dulwich Picture Gallery Firepower – The Royal Artillery Museum Hunterian Museum Jewish Museum Library
Library
and Museum of Freemasonry London
London
Transport Museum Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology Royal Academy of Arts

Museum of London

Museum of London
London
Docklands

Royal Collection Trust

Queen's Gallery Royal Mews

Historic Royal Palaces

Banqueting House, Whitehall Hampton Court Palace Kensington Palace Kew Palace Tower of London

National Trust

2 Willow Road 575 Wandsworth Road Blewcoat School Carlyle's House Eastbury Manor House Fenton House George Inn Lindsey House

restricted

Morden Hall Park Osterley Park Rainham Hall Red House Roman Baths Sutton House

English Heritage

Apsley House Chiswick House Down House Eltham Palace Jewel Tower Kenwood House
Kenwood House
(Iveagh Bequest) London
London
Wall Marble Hill House Ranger's House
Ranger's House
(Wernher Collection) Winchester Palace

The London
London
Museums of Health & Medicine (selected)

Florence Nightingale Museum Foundling Museum Freud Museum Museum of the Order of St John Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret Wellcome Collection

Other

Arsenal Football Club Museum Bank of England
Bank of England
Museum Barbican Art
Art
Gallery Benjamin Franklin House Bruce Castle Charles Dickens Museum David Zwirner Gallery Dennis Severs' House Design Museum Dr Johnson's House Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art Fashion and Textile Museum Flowers Gallery Garden Museum Guildhall Art
Art
Gallery Handel & Hendrix in London Hayward Gallery Hogarth's House Institute of Contemporary Arts Leighton House Museum London
London
Museum of Water & Steam Marlborough Gallery Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising Museum of Croydon Museum of Immigration and Diversity Museum of Richmond Orleans House
Orleans House
Gallery The Redfern Gallery Royal Academy of Music Museum Saatchi Gallery Serpentine Galleries Sherlock Holmes Museum Two Temple Place Twickenham Museum Whitechapel Gallery White Cube William Morris Gallery Victoria Miro Gallery

Category

v t e

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
of the United Kingdom

Headquarters: 100 Parliament Street, London, SW1A 2BQ

Executive agencies

The Royal Parks The National Archives

Non-departmental public bodies

Advisory

Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art
Art
and Objects of Cultural Interest Theatres Trust Treasure Valuation Committee

Executive

Arts Council England British Film Institute British Library British Museum Equality and Human Rights Commission Gambling Commission Geffrye Museum Historic England Horniman Museum Horserace Betting Levy Board Imperial War Museum Information Commissioner's Office National Gallery National Heritage Memorial Fund National Maritime Museum National Museums Liverpool National Portrait Gallery Natural History Museum Royal Armouries Science Museum Group Sir John Soane's Museum Sport England Sports Grounds Safety Authority Tate UK Anti-Doping UK Sport Victoria and Albert Museum VisitBritain VisitEngland Wallace Collection

Tribunal

Horserace Betting Levy Appeal Tribunal

Public corporations

BBC

BBC
BBC
Trust

Channel Four Television Corporation Historic Royal Palaces Ofcom S4C

S4C
S4C
Authority

Ministers

Secretary of State

Matt Hancock

Minister of State

Minister of State for Digital and Culture: Margot James

Under-Secretaries of State

Sport and Civil Society: Tracey Crouch Arts, Heritage and Tourism: John Glen Ceremonials, First World War
First World War
commemorations and DCMS Business in the Lords: Lord Ashton of Hyde

Category

v t e

London
London
landmarks

Buildings and structures

Bridges

Albert Bridge Blackfriars Bridge Hungerford Bridge and Golden Jubilee Bridges Lambeth Bridge London
London
Bridge Millennium Footbridge Southwark Bridge Tower Bridge Vauxhall Bridge Waterloo Bridge Westminster Bridge

Entertainment venues

Cinemas

Empire, Leicester Square BFI IMAX Odeon, Leicester Square

Football stadia

Wembley Stadium
Wembley Stadium
(national stadium) Craven Cottage
Craven Cottage
(Fulham) The Den
The Den
(Millwall) Emirates Stadium
Emirates Stadium
(Arsenal) Loftus Road
Loftus Road
(Queens Park Rangers) London
London
Stadium (West Ham United) Selhurst Park
Selhurst Park
( Crystal
Crystal
Palace) Stamford Bridge (Chelsea) The Valley (Charlton Athletic) White Hart Lane
White Hart Lane
(Tottenham Hotspur)

Other major sports venues

All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club The Championship Course
The Championship Course
(rowing) Crystal
Crystal
Palace National Sports Centre Lord's
Lord's
(cricket) Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park The Oval
The Oval
(cricket) Twickenham Stadium
Twickenham Stadium
(rugby)

Theatres

Adelphi Apollo
Apollo
Victoria Coliseum Criterion Dominion Lyceum Old Vic Palladium Royal National Theatre Royal Opera House Shakespeare's Globe Theatre Royal, Drury Lane Theatre Royal Haymarket Vaudeville

Other

Alexandra Palace Brixton Academy ExCeL Hammersmith Apollo O2 Arena Royal Albert Hall Royal Festival Hall Wembley Arena

Government

10 Downing Street Admiralty Arch Bank of England City Hall County Hall Guildhall Horse Guards Mansion House National Archives Old Bailey Palace of Westminster Royal Courts of Justice Scotland Yard SIS Building

Museums and galleries

British Museum Cutty Sark Golden Hinde HMS Belfast Imperial War Museum Madame Tussauds Museum of London National Gallery National Maritime Museum Natural History Museum Royal Academy of Arts Royal Observatory Science Museum Tate
Tate
Britain Tate
Tate
Modern Tower of London Victoria and Albert Museum

Places of worship

All Hallows-by-the-Tower BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Bevis Marks Synagogue Methodist Central Hall Regent's Park
Regent's Park
Mosque St Martin-in-the-Fields St Mary-le-Bow St Paul's Cathedral Southwark Cathedral Westminster Abbey Westminster Cathedral

Retailing

Shops

Fortnum & Mason Hamleys Harrods Liberty Peter Jones Selfridges

Shopping centres and markets

Borough Market Brent Cross Burlington Arcade Kensington Arcade Leadenhall Market The Mall Wood Green One New Change Petticoat Lane Market Royal Exchange Westfield London Westfield Stratford City

Royal buildings

Partly occupied by the Royal Family

Buckingham Palace Clarence House Kensington Palace St James's Palace

Unoccupied

Banqueting House Hampton Court Palace Kew Palace The Queen's Gallery Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace

Skyscrapers

Broadgate Tower 1 Canada Square 8 Canada Square 25 Canada Square 1 Churchill Place 20 Fenchurch Street Heron Tower Leadenhall Building The Shard St George Wharf Tower 30 St Mary Axe Tower 42

Structures

Albert Memorial ArcelorMittal Orbit Big Ben Cleopatra's Needle Crystal
Crystal
Palace transmitting station London
London
Eye London
London
Wall Marble Arch The Monument Nelson's Column Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain
Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain
("Eros") Thames Barrier Wellington Arch

Transport

City Airport Heathrow Airport Charing Cross station Clapham Junction station Euston station King's Cross station Liverpool Street station London
London
Bridge station Paddington station St Pancras station Stratford station Victoria station Waterloo station Victoria Coach Station Emirates Air Line cable car

Other

Barbican Estate Battersea Power Station British Library BT Tower Kew Gardens Lambeth Palace Lloyd's building London
London
Zoo Oxo Tower St Bartholomew's Hospital Smithfield Market Somerset House

Parks

Royal Parks

Bushy Park Green Park Greenwich Park Hampton Court Park Hyde Park Kensington Gardens Regent's Park Richmond Park St. James's Park

Other

Battersea Park Burgess Park Clapham Common College Green Epping Forest Finsbury Park Gunnersbury Park Hampstead Heath Holland Park Mitcham Common Osterley Park Trent Park Victoria Park Wandsworth Common Wimbledon Common

Squares and public spaces

Covent Garden Horse Guards Parade Leicester Square Oxford Circus Parliament Square Piccadilly
Piccadilly
Circus Sloane Square Trafalgar Square

Streets

Aldwych Baker Street Bishopsgate Bond Street Carnaby Street Chancery Lane Charing Cross Road Cheapside Cornhill Denmark Street Fenchurch Street Fleet Street Haymarket Jermyn Street Kensington High Street King's Road Lombard Street The Mall Oxford Street Park Lane Piccadilly Portobello Road Regent Street Shaftesbury Avenue Sloane Street Strand Tottenham Court Road Victoria Embankment Whitehall

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 134857252 LCCN: n79107735 ISNI: 0000 0001 2342 8817 GND: 38379-X SUDOC: 026472309 BNF: cb11871460b (data) ULAN: 500125180 NLA: 35022119 NDL: 00640103 BNE: XX102

.