Friday, 15 March 2013

Visitor Attractions in London-The British Museum in London

The British Museum is one of the most fascinating museums in London, with an excellent collection of diverse and marvelling objects. Each year, the museum attracts millions of visitors both from abroad and within the United Kingdom itself.
The British Museum was established in 1753, with the donation of 71.000 objects from the rich collection of Sir Hans Sloane.

The Museum Building
Since its inception, the museum was situated at the site of the Montague House in Bloomsbury. Not too long, it became evident that this facility did not actually suffice to display and store the museum’s extensive collection of formidable objects. Plans were then made to enlarge the museum’s building. The first part of the building was the Townley Gallery for classical sculpture, but was later demolished so as to provide room for the Smirke Building, which has become the core part of the building first visible to visitors once they arrive on the premises.

The Smirke Building

The idea for the Smirke Building, designed by Sir Robert Smirke in Greek revival style, was conceived in 1823, but the addition was not completed until nearly 30 years later.
It was originally built to house the personal library of King George III. This new building was a quadrangle situated north of the Montague House. The south wing of the Smirke Building eventually replaced the old house.
A domed, circular reading room was added in 1857, and the White Wing, designed by architect John Taylor, was added 30 years later. King Edward VII's Galleries, a Beaux Arts style addition, became part of the British Museum in 1914.

Parthenon Galleries

The Parthenon Galleries, by American John Russell Pope, was built to house the Parthenon sculptures and opened in 1939. However, because of extensive damage suffered during World War II, the Great Court structure had to be rebuilt and was reopened in 1962. Another new wing, opened in 1980, housed public facilities like a restaurant and gift shop.

The Great Court

Finally, the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court opened in 2000. This two-acre square (8000 sq m), enclosed by a glass roof, creates an indoor courtyard with the museum's famed circular reading room in the center. This design made by Norman Foster and Partners makes it easier for visitors to find their way in the museum due to the large open space, very similar to the way the Easter Island Sculpture entrance area below the Louvre Pyramid in Paris works.

The Museum's Collection

The collection found at the British Museum constitutes a great source of fascination and edification for millions of visitors each year. Considering the museum’s largeness, many visitors take more than one day to explore it. Not all of the more than 7 million artifacts are on display, but much of the collection constantly rotates so you'll see something new with each visit.

Elgin Marbles

The Elgin Marbles, the collection of marble sculptures that were taken from the Parthenon in Athens, is one of the museum's most famous attractions. They are located in the purpose-built Parthenon Galleries. The sculptures, also known as the Parthenon Marbles, were obtained by Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin and diplomat in Constantinople in the Ottoman Empire, which at that time included Greece.

Earl Elgin obtained permission "to take away any pieces of stone with old inscriptions or figures thereon", to prevent any more damage by the Turkish. Lord Elgin's collection was at first displayed at his own house, but in 1816, the House of Commons decided to purchase the collection and handed it over to the British Museum.

Egyptian Collection

Another highlight of the British Museum is the extensive Egyptian collection. Besides many sarcophagi and statues, including an enormous one of Pharaoh Ramesses II, the collection is home to the famous Rosetta stone, used by Jean-François Champollion to decipher the hieroglyphic writing.  The text on the stone, created in 196 BC after the end of the Egyptian dynasties, is written in three different writings: Greek, hieroglyphic and demotic (a symplified form of hieroglyphic). The British Museum is also known for its very large and popular collection of Egyptian mummies and coffins. You can even find animal mummies here.

Assyrian collection

The Assyrian collection features relief carvings from the palaces of the Assyrian kings at Nimrud, Khorsabad and Nineveh. The enormous winged bulls from the palace of Sargon II are especially impressive.

Other departments

The many other departments in the museum include Africa, Oceania and the Americas; Sudan; Asia; Coins and Medals; Conservation, Documentation and Science; Greek and Roman Antiquities; the Middle East; Portable Antiquities and Treasure; Prehistory and Europe; and Prints and Drawings.
Are you considering visiting London and the U.K.? Then contact the London official visitor agency-Visit London and Partners at: 08701 566 366     

You can also contact the City of London Information Centre: Opposite St Paul's Cathedral:
City of London, Guildhall, PO Box 270, London, EC2P 2EJ
Telephone: 020 7606 3030

They can offer you credible, pursuable and realistic information and advice on the following fronts: Cheap flights to London, hotels in London, cheap hotels in London, boutique hotels in London, bed and breakfast in London, guest houses in London, holiday apartments in London, timeshare accommodation in London, youth hostels in London, transportation in London, bus tours in London, river tours in London, coach tours of the U.K., entertainment in London, tourist attractions in London etc.

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