The British Museum is one the most popular tourist destinations in the world and more than 6.7 million visitors from all over the world visit this museum every year. The British Museum in London tells the captivating and fascinating story of human civilization right from the earliest days to the 21st Century. Another interesting thing to note is that this museum houses an extensive collection of objects of historical significance. More than tens of thousands of these objects are usually put on display for tourist and visitors at the very same time.
If your visit to the city of London is restricted to a day or two and if you have time to visit only a single museum in the city, then make sure to choose the British Museum over the other museums in the city. Of course, if you leave London city without visiting this famous old museum, then you will certainly regret it for the most part of your life. So in short, the British Museum in London is a sight you don’t want to miss while you are visiting London.
Several tourists and some natives are not aware of the fact that the British Museum was initially housed in the 17th-Century Montagu House before it was moved to the present Bloomsbury location. The authorities officially opened the British Museum to the public on January 15, 1759. During the first few years, the original collections that were housed in the museum included natural specimens, antiques, ethnographic materials, books, and manuscripts. However, the collections in the museum gradually increased over the years, and today, it contains approximately 8 million objects that cover the two million years of culture and history of the human race.
If you are planning to visit the British Museum, then the most important thing you should realize is that you won’t be able to see all the objects in the museum in a single visit. Moreover, the museum will be always crowded, which means that you can see plenty of people rushing towards the famous objects in the museum. So, if you wish to make the most of your British Museum tour and steer away from the crowd, then you will need to avoid peak visiting times and compile a list of the objects that you want to see while you are visiting the museum. Below are a few of the must-see objects in the British Museum, which you should not miss.
The Rosetta Stone
The Rosetta Stone has played a crucial role in unlocking the hidden mysteries of the Egyptian hieroglyphics. It is actually a decree that is passed by the priests of Egypt on the first anniversary of Ptolemy V’s coronation. The decree that was inscribed on the stone was written in three different languages such as hieroglyphics, Greek, and demotic. Historians and scholars compared the three languages and learned to translate the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.
The Portland Vase
The elegant Portland Vase that you can see in the Roman Empire exhibit on room number 70 is actually a cameo glass vessel, which was estimated to be made between AD 5 and 25 in Rome. Several archeologists and historians believe that this vase was a wedding gift because the pictures in the vase depict love, marriage, and sex. The Portland Vase was loaned to the museum in 1810 and the museum authorities finally purchased it in the year 1945.
The Cat Mummies
The British Museum is very famous among tourists for its fine and abundant collection of mummies. However, several tourists are not aware that the museum also has an excellent collection of cat mummies. These mummified figures or objects are an exciting devotional sidelight of the early Egyptian period, as Egyptians believed that cats were associated with the goddess Bastet. You can see cat mummies along with several human mummies in the Egyptian Room of the museum.
Colossal Granite Head of Amenhotep III
One of the widely popular and fine objects you can see in the British Museum is the gigantic head of a pharaoh, who ruled Egypt between 1390 and 1325 BC, Amenhotep III. The gigantic head of the pharaoh that weighs around 4 tons was originally an in an integral part of temple of Mut in Egypt. Archeologists discovered in the early 18th Century and it was purchased by the British Museum in the year 1823. You can see the Colossal Granite Head of Amenhotep III in the ground floor of the museum.
The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial Helmet
The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial Helmet in the British Museum is one of the iconic objects that were discovered from the Sutton Hoo site. The famous archeologist, Basil Brown discovered this helmet back in the year 1939. The helmet was crushed into about 500 pieces when the archeologist discovered it. However, after a few years, the helmet was restored with the help of historians. You can find this helmet in the World of Sutton Hoo exhibit of the British Museum.