Over the past twenty years visiting London, I am hesitant to admit I hadn’t visited The British Museum. It’s free! Great Art! The Rosetta Stone (not the language classes)! Classic museum! There were so many reasons for a visit and with each block of free time, I chose to instead walk and explore the city (and a few pubs along the way). It wasn’t until recently that I gave in to a visit as it had been raining the entire week of my business trip. With my hotel a short walk away and a few hours of free time, The British Musuem was calling me. With less than 3 hours to explore, I had to settle for a “drive by” of the museum, which frankly wasn’t even going to touch the surface of the collection (an astounding eight million items).
The British Museum is massive, no other word for the sheer size of the building and the collections. It is free to visit so I entered from a back entrance street, walked past the guard and up the steps to explore the galleries. It was weird (but also quite nice) to just walk in – not buy a ticket, not get my hand stamped, not hand over a reserved timed ticket, etc. I was expecting a bit of stuffiness (it is a museum after all) but I was pleasantly surprised to see the old and new co-exist.
Without a plan for my visit, I walked through galleries, followed hallways with curiousity waiting to be surprised. I found my first surprise when I entered the currency collection at the end of the display. A quick flash of “old lady” entered my head when I realized cash registers and credit cards were a part of the musuem collection? Items that I grew up with were consider museum worthy to teach the next generations. Ouch! Luckily we haven’t completely gone paperless but how many years when your phone or a chip in your hand is your method of payment? It was an interesting room to peruse especially as the rise of the credit card spawned the award points that I so lovingly use.
Realizing the sheer volume of holdings after the currency collection, I decided it was easier for my short visit to focus on the photos (you can take photos without flash).
Moving through the galleries, I was drawn over to the cabinets with the jewelry collection. What girl wouldn’t want to wear the intricate art around their necks? Just looking at the jewelry made me create a time in my head when I could wear the necklace and earrings to complete my outfit to the ball. It’s quite nice to live in the movie in my head.
Seeing the crowds converged around the Rosetta Stone (in a glass enclosure), a photo was tricky. It is quite impressive sight and if you hold your ground you can get close to view the writings.
After viewing the Rosetta Stone, I considered my “drive by” of the British Museum, albeit way too short, complete for the day. Happily the rains led me to the musuem for the first, but not that last time. Have you visited The British Museum? If so, what is your favorite collection, gallery or holding in the collection?