Credit: MorgueFileThe British Museum is one of London's jewels. It has a collection covering human history from its very beginning. The museum holds millions of items, making it the largest of its kind in the world. The museum was first opened in January, 1759. According to the BBC around 5.5 million visitors come each year. Its shear size makes it impossible to see everything in one visit, so here are some of the best collections to check out.
The British Museum's ancient Egypt galleries contain some of the most popular artefacts on display. It is usually always busy, but worth braving the crowds to see them. The tomb-chapel of Nebamun is lined with paintings dating back to 1350 BC. The paintings came from the tomb of Nebamun and the gallery has been constructed to give visitors an idea of what walking through the actual tomb was like.
Credit: MorgueFileThe Egyptian sculpture room houses the renowned Rosetta Stone. The large stone was engraved in 196 BC with three different languages of the period - Ancient Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and Demonic. Each language section says the same thing. It also houses large busts of Ramessess II from 1250 BC and Amenhotep III from 1350 BC.
The Egyptian death and after life galleries house the ever popular mummies. Included here is a wooden statue from 1300 BC that was found in Ramesses I's tomb. Amongst the coffins on display is the beautifully painted case of Artemidorus.
Credit: Wikipedia Creative CommonsThe Medieval Europe galleries are another excellent section to visit if you have limited time. It has excellent examples of gold jewellery, fine weaponry, and religious artefacts. Highlights in these galleries are the Hebrew astrolabe, an instrument used to tell time in ancient Spain, and the Lewis Chessmen, thought to have originally come from Scandinavia in the 12th century.
The Roman Empire spread far and wide. The Roman occupation of Britain was significant, leaving many influences on the buildings, the economy, and the culture. The British Museum has an excellent collection of objects from this period, which began around 55 BC. Here you'll find fine jewellery, such as the Juliana bracelet, the Jet pendant, and an intricate ring. It also has examples of weapons, such as the Fulham Sword, and javelin heads. The items on display and their descriptions provide insightful information about what life was like during Roman Britain.
Several galleries of the museum are dedicated to different periods of ancient Greek history. Of particular interest to time strapped visitors are the galleries featuring artefacts from the Minoans and Mycenaen cultures. Minoan culture was located on the island of Crete from around 1950 BC forward. The culture is known for its stone work, jewellery, pottery, and grand palaces. Highlights of the Minoan gallery include a bronze bull, and a gold pendant from the Aigina treasure. The Mycenaean culture flourished during the Greek Bronze age, a period spanning from 3200 to 1100 BC. It is this period in history that inspired stories of Greek myths that are still familiar today. The Mycenaean culture influenced large areas of Greece. Check out the beautiful necklace made of blue glass beads and gold, a gold goblet, and some beautiful examples of pottery.
While these highlights certainly don't cover everything you can see at the British Museum, they are amongst the best highlights to visit if you only have a short time to spend there. You will be able to get a map of the museum when you enter, so you can easily navigate its vast halls. Entry to the the museum if free for all ages, except some special exhibits which may carry a fee. There are several gifts shops to explore, with some lovely, albeit expensive mementos to take home. To get to the museum from central London on public transport take the Piccadilly or Central line tube to Holborn station, or the Northern line to Tottenham Court Road station. The museums is open 7-days a week from 10am to 5.30pm, with a late opening until 8.30pm on Fridays.