Rainy Day London – Visiting The British Museum

Posted on Posted in Activities/Experiences, Art, London, London Sightseeing

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).

British Museum lions
Lions guarding the British Museum entrance

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.

Courtyard of the British Museum
The new and old buildings of the British Museum co-exist -the courtyard view

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.

Gold coins at the British Museum
Gold coins – a currency method long before my time
Antique cash register at the British Museum
Antique cash register at the British Museum


Credit card history at The British Museum
My parents had a “Mastercharge” card!

Zimbabwe Money at The British Museum

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).

Mask at the British Museum
Ancient mask at the British Museum
Statues at British Museum
No body issues here at the British Museum

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.

Jewelry at the British Museum
Gorgeous jewelry is timeless

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.

The Rosetta Stone
The Rosetta Stone

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?

5 thoughts on “Rainy Day London – Visiting The British Museum

  1. I’ve been there a few times, but you’re right, there’s always more to see. When I was last there, there was a special exhibit about horses—in art and history. I grew up in urban Philadelphia, a million miles from the horsey part of the Philly suburbs, but I quite enjoyed it. On a nice day, you can buy a takeaway lunch and eat in the park across the street. Otherwise, there’s a reasonably priced cafe on the first floor and a much pricier 3rd floor restaurant.

  2. I really enjoyed my visit to the British Museum. I stayed at the nearby Montague Hotel and it was a great location, walking distance to the major sights of London but aware from the fray.

    1. My friend loves the Montague Hotel as it is in a residential area and as you say great location to so much of London- I haven’t stayed there yet but good to know others have enjoyed it.

  3. Looking forward to hearing about your adventure. I would love to take my niece to England (her passion is Dr. Who) for her graduation present in 4 years. She has some maturing to do before I will attempt this along with some changes in what she will eat (she only eats about 10 things). We will see.

    1. Lynn – a Dr Who fan, well there is so much in London to look forward to and map out! The good thing about London is there are always chips (french fries) and really good burger shops now (not McD and other US chains). For me, I’m the picky eater, my niece has been a foodie since she was a toddler eating calamari -it will be interesting to see what she eats in both cities. Either way an adventure for all of us

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