Friday, 13 January 2012

British Museum (2/1000, 3/1000 & 4/1000)

On 6th January 2012 I took myself off to the British Museum, which I'm still amazed I'd never been to before this visit.

The British Museum appears in my book 5 times in total, and out of those entries I did 3. 

Those 3 things were...

"Do the British Museum in your lunchbreak" (2/1000)
(#553 in the book)

My start time...
I got to the museum at lunchtime so though this would be a good way to start. The book guides you through the main area's of the museum and points out their specific points of interest. It takes you through the Great Court and through to Ancient Civilisations taking in the famous Rosetta Stone.

Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egyptian Granodiorite inscribed with a decree written in 3 texts - Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script and Ancient Greek (top to bottom on the stone). It is widely thought as a major key to the modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Once you've seen the stone, the guide takes you to see the Elgin Marbles.

Elgin Marbles
These marbles (the above picture show's just one, they go around all the walls in this gallery) are classical Greek structure's, inscriptions and architectural that were part of the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens. They were brought by the British government in 1816 and placed at the British Museum. These marbles have been in much discussion between the British and Greek government since then as the Greek want them back in Athens, and well, we brought them so we want them to stay here! That argument is still going on today...

Next the guide takes you up the West Stairs taking in some beautiful Turkish and North African mosaics on the way up.

Now we're in the Egyptian Galleries. The guide tells you to take in all the lavish Egyptian coffins - of which there are many! The picture below gives you an idea...

After you've made your way through the vast amount of coffins, a "how to guide" to mummification and then the Queen of the Night relief of a Mesopotamian goddess (possibly of sexual love and war) it takes you down the East Stairs and into the Enlightenment Room. Possibly my favourite room in the museum.

The Enlightenment Room
This room is an 18th Century room of Reason, Discovery and Learning, full to the rafters of books and specimens from between 1680 and 1820. The type of information here completely changed the way people viewed how the world was. What an amazing time to have lived.

The Enlightenment Room is the last stop on the guide. And although you don't realise it, you've been around the whole of the museum pretty much. You end up on the other side of the museum from where you started.

... and my finish time
So... I did all that in 36 minutes. So that leaves you plenty of time to eat a sandwich afterwards before heading back to work!

"Sit in the Great Court at the British Museum" (3/1000)
 (#284 in the Book)
the Great Court
The Great Court is the largest enclosed courtyard in Europe and it is a truly wonderful space. The roof is made up of 3,300 glass triangles. So the book tells you to sit in this magnificent space... which is exactly what I did (with a a scone and butter! Nom).

"Get eye to eye with four London corpses" (4/1000)
(#584 in the book)

Well, as you can see from this next entry, the book gives you 4 well preserved  dead people to see. Two of them are in the British Museum. So let's meet them;

This is Ginger and he's over 5000 years old (3400 BC approx.). He is a Predynastic mummy who was burried with goods including the pottery vessels in the picture, which were filled with food to go with him in the afterlife. He's named Ginger for his red hair which from the photo below you can see quite clearly.

And our next corpse is...

Lindow Man
Everyone, this is Lindow Man. He's 2000 years old, 25 years old when he died and was found in a peat bog in Manchester in 1984. He died of a violent death with a big hole in his skull and broken ribs as an example of some of his injuries. 

I'll hopefully come back and update this entry in the future when I go and visit the other two corpses. 

So... they were the entries I did for the British Museum. The two I didn't/couldn't do were 1) "Stay Late in a Museum" where the museum is open until 8.30pm on a Friday, but I was there in the afternoon. There are two other museums with late openings which I will try and do instead. And 2) "Sleep Somewhere Extraordinary" where you get to spend the night in a museum - but you need accompany an 8-15 year old. Luckily I have a 8 year old niece so I'm going to try my best to persuade her to do that!

Once I'd done the bit's from the book, I took the guide map that I brought from the museum, and went to all of their top attractions. There was a lot to see, but it was a useful way to see the other bits of the museum that you didn't get a chance to see properly in the "do the museum in your lunchtime" entry.

Although the British Museum was very interesting, the majority of the museum is to do with Ancient History, and I gotta admit, I am much more of a Modern History girl. It is still somewhere that you should go, if only to sit and take in the splendour of the Great Court and have a look in the Enlightenment Room. Please don't forget to leave a donation when you are there, they won't be able to continue to let us see all these amazing items without donations.

The British Museum's website is and it is located at Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. The nearest London Underground station will be Tottenham Court Road which is a 5 minute walk to the museum. Holborn and Russell Square stations are also close by. There are a number of buses that stop near the museum too. They're also on twitter too... @britishmuseum so go follow! 

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