Wednesday, December 19, 2012

2 Million Years of History at The British Museum

Returning to London at the end of our trip was something we were really looking forward to. As we were a bit preoccupied with the Reading Music Festival back in August, we were unable to see anything other than the Natural History Museum and a little glimpse of the city's major sights. Picking up where we left off, our first stop was the British Museum, which, like many of the amazing museums we've been to, really requires multiple visits to see everything. 

The Greek Revival facade of the museum

The amazingly designed Great Court

With a focus on human history and culture, the British Museum is home to a huge collection of about 8 million artifacts from every continent. As we wandered among huge Egyptian sculptures, fully intact Greek temples, intricate hieroglyphic tablets, and primitive human tools, we were immediately impressed with the wide range of civilizations and time periods on display. However it was also hard to grasp the immense period of time covered by the museum's artifacts. The oldest man-made piece in their collection, a stone chopping tool found in Tanzania, dates back 1.8 to 2 million years, a time frame impossible to comprehend, and I regularly found myself trying to fathom how these items had survived for so many years and in such good condition. 
Paleolithic hand-axe - 1.2 million years old

Collosal granite statue of Amenhotep III

After our trip to Athens, one of our favorite displays was the Parthenon Gallery, which houses much of the marble sculptures and friezes from the Ancient Acropolis. Although highly controversial, with the Greeks calling for their return to the new Acropolis Museum in Athens, this display helped pull together a lot of the information we gathered in Greece at the beginning of our trip and made our visit to the Acropolis feel more complete. 

Mesopotamian wall relief

Canada is represented too with a totem from Haida Gwaii

One of the best things about London, for both locals and tourists, is that entry into many of the major museums is completely free. Not only do these free attractions help make London a bit more affordable, especially for the always budget-conscious backpacker, but a visit to any of these museums, even the few you aren't quite sure you will enjoy, is completely risk free. Pop in to see one painting, or wander a couple halls, or use the bathroom, without feeling obligated to "get your money's worth". 

The Grenville Library houses many interesting books and items

*Although entry to the museum is free, there is often a fee to visit any temporary exhibits. Check the museum's website to confirm free entry or any applicable admission fees.

By Calli D with 1 comment


Check out this list of top free London museums:

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Calli and Travis returned from a four month trip through Europe more excited than ever to hit the open road. Who knows where they'll end up next...

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