The British Museum is located on Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG. The museum opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 5:30 p.m. Some exhibits may be closed or evening hours extended for special events. The museum admission is free, but some special exhibits may require a fee.
Plan ahead for your visit to the British Museum, where you’ll want at least two hours in the museum itself as well as time to travel there and back. If you’re staying in London as a tourist, many of the local tourist buses, such as the Big Bus Company, feature stops near the museum. You can enjoy a day filled with local color before and after your visit to the museum.
Decide whether you want the audio tour or not. The museum’s extensive collection can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Audio tours are available for a nominal fee that includes headphones and translation into different languages. The tours will allow you to hear the history behind the history.
Obtain a layout map of the museum. Whether you are planning to follow an audio tour, going to wander through yourself or looking for specific exhibits (Rosetta Stone, Royal Lion Hunts or Egyptian mummies), the map will help you identify not only the historical period you are looking for but what exhibits you will find where.
Expect crowding in some areas. The Egyptian Mummies in Room 63 is often crowded with tours, tourists and history buffs. The carefully preserved mummies are on display in climate-controlled containers. You will not be able to touch them, although you can take photographs.
Plan ahead for your children. If you’re visiting with children, they are not necessarily going to be interested in ancient coins, but the museum often features specialized exhibits just for kids. In 2008, an entire set of rooms on the main floor allowed children to ‘touch’ and ‘feel’ some of the actual exhibit pieces alongside replicas of many items including a replica of the Rosetta Stone. Hands-on exhibits are available throughout the museum, as well as a family audio tour hosted by Vid the Martian.
See the Great Court. Upon your arrival at the British Museum you will see the Great Court, a two-acre square enclosure that utilizes space hidden from public view from 1857 to 2000. A glass ceiling provides this inner courtyard with an open, spaciousness that allows visitors to approach multiple exhibits from different directions. The Great Court provides access to the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery, King’s Library, Welcome Trust Gallery and the Joseph Hotung Great Court Gallery. A restaurant and visitor center is also accessible from the Great Court.
During your visit, be sure to see the Rosetta stone. The stone carries an inscription in three different languages that allowed archaeologists to decipher hieroglyphics for the first time. Check out the Nereid Temple, a reconstruction of a temple monument found in Turkey. Other notable exhibits to check out before you leave the museum include:
*Assyrian Winged Bulls – Built for the Assyrian King Sargon II sometime between 721 and 705 B.C., these huge marbles were said to protect the palace against misfortune.
*Greek Vases – Greek vases dating back to the 500s B.C. depict different historical and mythological events including the battles of Hercules.
*Elgin Marbles / Parthenon Sculptures – The Elgin Marbles come from the Parthenon in Athens. Many of the marbles were brought to England in the early 1800s.
*Easter Island Statue – A statue of an ancestral figure, found on Easter Island. These mysterious and imposing figures are a crowd pleaser especially with kids.
*Royal Tombs of Ur – Found in the early 1900s, these artifacts represent a huge piece of early dynastic Mesopotamia.