Visit the British Museum in London: tickets, prices, opening hours

Visiter le British Museum à Londres

Following in the footsteps of human history and culture, the British Museum is one of the richest museums in the world. Under no circumstances should you leave English soil without visiting the British Museum and its wonders.

Just off the bustling Oxford Street, in the heart of Bloomsbury, stands one of the world’s most famous museums: the British Museum. An illustrious witness to the history of mankind, this London museum houses some of the world’s most important collections: over seven million objects from every continent. Every year, the British Museum welcomes over six million visitors, making it Britain’s busiest tourist attraction. Chances are you won’t be able to escape the rule during your stay in London.

Follow our mini-guide to the history and organization of the British Museum.

History of the British Museum

Histoire du British Museum à Londres

The British Museum was established in 1753 by a decision of the British Parliament. It was originally created to house the collections of the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane and the Earl of Oxford. When it opened its doors to the general public in 1759, the British Museum contained eighty thousand objects.

This heritage was enriched at a dazzling pace by the collections of illustrious men such as Captain Cook, the archaeologist William Hamilton and the ambassador from Constantinople. When Napoleon was defeated in Egypt, the British Museum recovered many Egyptian treasures. The museum also acquired numerous British royal items such as books, manuscripts and coins.

A visit to the British Museum promises a return to the past, in the footsteps of the great moments of glory of the British Empire. Sadly, in the early decades of the British Empire, many priceless objects ended up in the British Museum as a result of looting in the British colonies. Rest assured, however, that most of the artifacts and artefacts have been donated and acquired ethically.

In 188O, due to lack of space, all the collections of the natural history branch were transferred to the Naturel History Museum, a museum dedicated to natural history.

In 2000, renowned architect Norman Foster set about enlarging and renovating the entrance to the British Museum: the Great Court. As soon as you start visiting the British Museum, you’ll be dazzled by this incredible central rotunda, made of honeycombed glass and steel.

Among the most emblematic temporary collections in the British Museum’s history: the Terracotta Army of the First Chinese Emperor (2007) and the Pharaoh Tutankhamun (1972). These two exhibitions shattered all the museum’s sales and attendance records.

What to see and do at the British Museum in London

Que voir et faire au British Museum à Londres ?

Photo credit: Flickr – Patrick Lauke

Fancy visiting the British Museum, but wondering what you’re going to see and do? We tell you all – or almost all – of the wonders that await you.

The British Museum is huge, so you won’t be able to discover everything in just a handful of hours. Especially if your aim is really to learn about the civilizations presented. We therefore advise you to pre-select the collections that interest you most, so that you can appreciate their full richness. On the British Museum website, for example, you can download a map of the museum. An audio-guide can also be useful. If you decide to visit the British Museum, here are some of the collections you may come across:

British, European and Prehistoric collections

From prehistory to the present day, this collection is an incredible encyclopedia of the European continent. Follow in the footsteps of our stone-, bronze- and iron-cutting ancestors, discovering their tools, their art and their way of life. Follow us through the Middle Ages and Renaissance to the modern era.

The Greek and Roman collections

This sector is the largest in the British Museum. The Greco-Roman collections dating back to antiquity are monumental, covering the history of a wide period. Artifacts are displayed in twenty-four rooms. If you want to visit the British Museum and its Greco-Roman section, don’t miss the breathtaking reproduction of the Temple of the Nereids and the dizzying Parthenon.

Asian collections

Porcelain from China, sculptures from India, masterpieces featuring Buddha, art from Tibet and Korea – the British Museum’s Asian section is brimming with works from all over Asia. A tour that invites you to understand and immerse yourself in the Asian way of life and beliefs.

The Egyptian collections

The British Museum’s Egyptian galleries are the most spectacular after those in Cairo. The objects on display come from all the periods and numerous sites of ancient Egypt. Hieroglyphics, pharaonic decorations, coffins and mummies, jewels, statues and the Rosetta Stone: you are literally plunged into the heart of this fascinating civilization. Indiana Jones has only himself to blame.

African, Oceanic and American collections

From sub-Saharan Africa to the Pacific Islands, from the Maori culture of New Zealand to the Aboriginal art of Australia and the cult objects of the American peoples, the British Museum offers you a grand tour of the world. If you want to visit the British Museum and this vast department, you’ll need to get organized.

Don’t miss the relics of Easter Island, the artifacts of the ancient Pacific Islanders, the royal artifacts of Africa and the aisles tracing the history of the Mayas, Incas, Aztecs and pyramids of Mexico. There’s also a nod to Indiana Jones as you pass the mysterious and sublime crystal skulls.

Middle East collections

Rich in Mesopotamian antiquities and Islamic works of art, the Middle East department boasts some of the finest and most comprehensive collections in the world. Steles, bas-reliefs, obelisks, statues, sculptures, ceramics, paintings, glassware: the British Museum invites you to discover the artistic and cultural prowess of the Middle East.

How do I get to the British Museum?

The British Museum is located at: Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG.

  • By metro

To visit the British Museum, you can take the subway. The nearest stations areTottenham Court Road, Holborn, Russell Square and Goodge Street.

  • By bus

Another convenient way to get to the British Museum is by bus. Choose between the New Oxfort Street stop (lines 1, 8, 19, 25, 38, 55, 98, 242), the Tottenham Court Road or Gower Street stop (lines 10, 14, 24, 29, 73, 134, 390) or the Southampton Row stop (lines 59, 68, X68, 91, 168, 188).

  • By bike

In a more eco-friendly style, the British Museum is home to a number of bicycle parking facilities. London city center is well served by bicycle paths.

Timetable and prices of the Bristish Museum

Horaires et tarifs du British Museum, Londres

SCHEDULES

Discovering the British Museum is easy on the budget! Admission is free, except for temporary exhibitions.

For those who wish to go further and learn more than just the visuals, there are guided tours in English, in which the history of the museum and its works is explained in detail. To take advantage of these tours, you’ll need to pay an average of €20 for a 3-hour visit.

RATES

  • Monday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Friday: 10am-8.30pm
  • Exceptional closures: December 24 to 26, and January 1

GOOD TO KNOW

– The British Museum is kid-friendly: activity books, interactive games, multimedia guides, family trails, activity bags, everything to make this visit fun and enjoyable for your little ones.

– The British Museum has a fee-paying checkroom. For security reasons, bulky luggage and suitcases are not accepted inside the museum.

– It is not permitted to consume food or drink inside the museum, except in designated areas such as the restaurant and cafés or the Grand Courtyard.

– At weekends and during school vacations, the Ford Centre is transformed into a family picnic area.

– The British Museum allows digital cameras and camcorders in most galleries.

Animals are not allowed in the Museum, with no exceptions, except in cases of disability, in which case you may be accompanied by a guide, assistant or guide animal.