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This is it! I've given up work -retired from the rat race and am about to start on a 10 year adventure, doing all those things I've been meaning to do but never had the time to do them. I've offloaded my responsibilities and it is now my time. So follow my adventures and see whether I actually manage anything!

Monday, 20 January 2014

The British Museum (London Museum #9)

The British Museum(a museum of the world, for the world) celebrated its 255th anniversary last week so I thought it would be appropriate to take you on a quick tour.

The National Museums in the UK are free and are all worth a visit but if you are only here for a short time that can be difficult.There are free 30 - 40 minute daily tours in different rooms of the British Museum but for those of you unlikely to be able to visit, here is a little peek at some of the exhibits.

Mummies lying around in the Egyptian room

The Royal Game of Ur: A popular game played in  the Ancient world for about 3000 years.
In  at least 6 graves in the Royal Cemetery  wooden game boards inlaid with shell, red limestone and lapiz lazuli were found. This game was found in grave PG 513, Ur.

Glazed brick panel showing a roaring lion. This was from the reign of NebuchadnezzarII (605-562BC) and was found in Babylon, Southern Iraq.

The Portland Vase - cameo glass possibly made in Rome 15 BC-AD 25. Cameo glass means it is made from two layers of glass where the outer layer is white and is carved away to reveal the inner blue layer. This piece is one of the finest surviving pieces of Roman glass. It is said that this was the inspiration for Wedgewood pottery made in Britain from the mid 18th cent.

Black figured Panathenaic amphora showing a boxing contest made in Athens for the Panathenaic festival of 336BC

Wine jug dating back to 420-400BC showing a two horse chariot race. My favourite piece of Greek art is the sculpture of the discus thrower but that is on loan to Glasgow, Scotland at the moment for an exhibition to celebrate the Commonwealth Games

The Lewis Chessmen.
 These chess pieces are made from carved walrus ivory and were discovered on the Isle of Lewis, Western Isles, Scotland in 1831.

Altogether they found 93 medieval  chess pieces , some of which are here and the rest are in the National Museum of Scotland.

Samurai Armour and helmet.
This display has been put together from a collection of different pieces of armour made between 1500 and 1800. Originally the armour was used as a protection against arrows but in the 1500s the Portuguese used guns as weapons and the Japanese added a  thick metal bullet proof chest plate.
Amitabha Buddha (AD581-618). This giant marble figure represents the Buddha of Infinite Light. It was presented to the Museum by the Chinese Government in 1938.

Cloisonne jar with dragons. This was made for a Ming Dynasty Emperor AD1426-35

Island statue  Hoa Hakanana circa 1400. This statue was donated to the Museum by Queen Victoria in 1869.

Throne of weapons.
Made in Mozambique, 2001
During the Mozambique civil war seven million guns found their way into the country. After the war the people were encouraged to exchange weapons for tools and machinery. Artists then turned the decommissioned weapons into sculptures

The Rosetta Stone.
This was the key to deciphering hieroglyphs

The Rosetta Stone carries an inscription in different languages which helped decipher the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic  script. At the top of the stone the decree is written in hieroglyphics, the middle the same decree was written in Demotic, the everyday langusge of the Egyptians and at the bottom the same decree was written in Greek.

These reliefs are from Assyria and show the Royal Lion Hunts. They were carved about 645-635 BC

This room was built especially to hold the marble sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens. The Parthenon was built between 447 and 438 BC and was dedicated to the goddess Athena

During 1687 the Parthenon was being used as a Turkish Garrison and it was reduced to ruins when gunpowder that was stored there exploded. At the beginning of the 19th cent Lord Elgin had the sculptures removed from the ruins and brought them back to England. An act of Parliament gave them to the British Museum in 1816. Other sculptures from the Parthenon can be seen in the museums of Athens, Paris and Copenhagen. The sculptures are commonly referred to as the 'Elgin Marbles' and are a source of controversy as to whether they should be on display here or be returned to Greece.

I hope you've enjoyed this short tour. The British Museum owns approx 6,000,000 artifacts of which only a small percentage are on display at any one time. Many are loaned to Museums throughout the world whilst others may never see the light of day. The artifacts are used to tell us about the history of the world in which we live and the stories they can tell are fascinating. I have only shown you a handful of some of my favourites. Maybe one day you'll be able to visit and choose your own special pieces.

Linking with Our World Tuesday

Our World Tuesday Graphic


  1. Thank you for that. I have only visited the place with school many years ago and not been since though I had a fleeting glance when I was at Imperial College one day working. I have always wanted to return, hopefully I will soon.

  2. Thank you for sharing these interesting pieces with me. I love museums, and this one has some of the best artifacts I have ever seen! It's truly fascinating to see pieces carved by hands thousands of years ago, with such artistic talent. Wow! If I ever get over there, it's now on my list. :-)

  3. The museum is on our list to visit in June when we come to England for the very first time. Thanks for the advanced tour. Enjoyed it and look forward to seeing those artifacts in person.

  4. I think last time I was there must be 20 years ago ! But it's good to know that you are allowed to take pictures !

  5. I want to go there. Another great collection of photos!

  6. What a wonderful tour of the museum. I am surprised you could take pictures there. Thanks for the tour!
    Have a happy week!

  7. Wow~ Thanks for your wonderful photo tour of the museum ~ so much to see ~ carol, xxx


  8. a free museum with all these works of art to be gawked at.

  9. That is an impressive museum - nice shots.

  10. You can never spend too much time in the British Museum!

  11. Wow - that's so great that your museums are free! What great exhibits you have full of interesting ancient artifacts. Thanks for taking us along on your tour.

  12. All such beautiful photos of the British Museum. I love the colors and textures and the design. I am impressed with the large Buddha.

  13. Wonderful collection of artifacts in the museum.

  14. Nice tour - I think we are planning a visit.

    It makes me wonder who Queen Vic came to "own" and Easter Island Statue to give to the museum.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  15. All free - so much culture and beauty! Lovely shots of this amazing museum.

  16. Thank you for the extensive tour! It is a marvel how lovely ancient art can be and how board games were popular then as they are now. Nice to know life was not just about physical battles and conquests.

  17. Thank you for the tour of the British Museum. The age of those pieces is staggering. Even the building is older than European settlement in Australia. My favourite was the Roman glass vase .

  18. Interesting exhibits! So much to see.

  19. So many treasures! Yes, six million would be a lot to take in in one visit. :))

  20. We went twice during our three-month visit and I would have happily gone again and again, but my "traveling companion" stretched his patience by indulging me the second time. So many places ....

  21. I spent a couple of years in London and to go to the British Museum was one of the most memorable outings.What a treasure grove!

  22. The British Museum was one of my favorite stops all of those years I took students to London and England. They loved the mummies...me, it was the Rosetta stone. It still amazes me. Loved seeing your photos. It was a treat for this displaced Anglophile. genie

  23. Thank you for this lovely mini-tour. An hour in any museum and I have reached my saturation point so i normally have to be very selective about what I actually want to take in.I love the Babylonian lion and have enjoyed those in the museum in Berlin as well. I am still ambivalent about the Elgin marbles. In my heart, they belong on th parthenon but reason tells me that they are much safer in the British Museum . . . I would like to see a reproduction set back in Athens though.
    Thanks again. Goig to a museum for me is like going on a pilgrimage back through the ages.

  24. I like the Egyptian kind of old culture. :)

  25. Oh this is nice, I have seen most of it and enjoyed te museum so much. There are real treasures to see. Your post brings back nice memories

  26. I was struck by the age of the museum itself. I didn't realize there were museums in the 1700s. Such a variety of artifacts. It's on my list for my next visit!


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