British Museum | History & Facts

British Museum, located in London A comprehensive national museum that has particularly impressive collections in ethnography and archaeology.

British Museum | History & Facts

British Museum, located in London A comprehensive national museum that has particularly impressive collections in ethnography and archaeology. It is situated within the Bloomsbury district in the Camden borough. Camden.

The museum was established by an Act of Parliament in 1753 The museum was initially built upon three different collections: the ones belonging to Sir Hans Sloane; Robert Harley 1 St. Earl of Oxford and the Earl of Oxford; and Robert Cotton. The collection (which also contained a large number of manuscripts as well as other library material) was housed at Montagu House, Great Russell Street, and opened by the general public in 1759. The current museum building is constructed with the Greek Revival style by Sir Robert Smirke, was built on the site of Montagu House in the period 1823 to 1952, and was the subject of numerous subsequent modifications and additions. Its famed circular Reading Room was built in the 1850s. Under its copper dome were famous scholars like Karl Marx, Virginia Woolf, Peter Kropotkin, and Thomas Carlyle. In 1881, the natural history collections were moved to a new structure situated in South Kensington to form the Natural History Museum and in 1973, the British Library of the Museum was merged with an act by Parliament along with various other collections to form the British Library. The majority of the library's collection was kept in the museum until the new library was established in 1997. St. Pancras in 1997. When the books were removed After the books were removed, the interior of the Reading Room was repaired and returned to its original design. The Great Court (designed by Norman Foster) was an edifice with a glass roof, which was built around the Reading Room, was built. It was completed in the Great Court and the refurbished Reading Room opened to the public in the year 2000. The building was also renovated in time to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the museum's opening the King's Library (1823-27), the first part of the newly-formed British Museum to have been built. The library now hosts an ongoing exhibit of The Age of Enlightenment.

The collection of British Museum's most renowned collections include the Elgin Marbles that were taken away at the beginning of the nineteenth century, from the Parthenon at Athens and then shipped to England through an arrangement with Thomas Bruce, 7th Lord Elgin. The Greek government repeatedly demanded returning of the marble however the British Museum--claiming, as one of its reasons that it had rescued the marble from certain damages and degradation--was not willing to accept it in the end, and the matter continued to be a contentious issue. Other items that are part of the collection include Greek statues of The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus and also from the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus as well as The Rosetta Stone, which provided the means to read the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs; the black Obelisk as well as other Assyrian artifacts from the temples and palaces located at Calah (modern Nimrud) and Nineveh and exquisite silver, gold and shellwork of the ancient Mesopotamian Ur city Ur as well as the known as the Portland Vase, a 1st-century-CE cameo-shaped glass vessel discovered close to Rome as well as treasure from the burial of a ship in the 7th century CE discovered at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk; and Chinese ceramics from the Ming and various dynasties.

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