British Museum


Datos principales

Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG, Reino Unido
+44 20 7323 8299


The British Museum is not only notable for its collection of paintings but also for its artistic objects in general. It owns the Elgin marbles, that originally came from the Pantheon and which were acquired by Lord Elgin during his military campaigns in the area. It also owns the famous Rosetta stone which allowed Egyptian hieroglyphics to be deciphered. It the exhibition rooms there are gigantic stone statues from the Asiatic and Babylonian cultures, Egyptian mummies, Chinese porcelain, and Japanese furniture and screens. There are reproductions of all kinds, such as the rituals of Egyptian life, a Roman house and there is also the body of the Lindow man (over 2000 years old). The museums treasures include precious stones, silver, gold and the strangest and most exquisite pieces. In the section dedicated to painting the most notable works are from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, including paintings by Rubens, Botticelli, Rembrandt, Michelangelo and Raphael. This heterogeneous collection dates back to the 17th century. Sir Hans Sloane, a naturalist by profession, dedicated his life to gathering together all these marvels, which he came across on his various journeys and were also collected by his collaborators. When he made his will in 1753 he left over 50,000 pieces. The price of the collection was symbolic, being as many of the objects were priceless. It cost £20,000 which the State raised with a public lottery. The excellent response meant that the collection was officially opened six years later in 1759, located in Montague House. However, the economic reserves continued to grow as did the collection itself and as a result a special building was built to house the museum. The architect Robert Smirke was commissioned with the project. The British Museum is similar to the National Gallery and the Tate in that all three have their origins in private collections. The British Museum is complemented with one of the biggest libraries in the world, the British Library, which because of its enormous importance is considered an independent institution.

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