Great Russell Street,
The British Museum was founded in 1753, the first national public museum in the world. From the beginning it granted free admission to all 'studious and curious persons'. Visitor numbers have grown from around 5,000 a year in the eighteenth century to nearly 6 million today.
The origins of the British Museum lie in the will of the physician, naturalist and collector, Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753).
Over his lifetime, Sloane collected more than 71,000 objects which he wanted to be preserved intact after his death. So he bequeathed the whole collection to King George II for the nation in return for a payment of £20,000 to his heirs.
The gift was accepted and on 7 June 1753, an Act of Parliament established the British Museum.
The founding collections largely consisted of books, manuscripts and natural specimens with some antiquities (including coins and medals, prints and drawings) and ethnographic material. In 1757 King George II donated the 'Old Royal Library' of the sovereigns of England and with it the privilege of copyright receipt.
The British Museum opened to the public on 15 January 1759 . It was first housed in a seventeenth-century mansion, Montagu House, in Bloomsbury on the site of today's building. Entry was free and given to ‘all studious and curious Persons’.
With the exception of two World Wars, the Museum has remained open ever since, gradually increasing its opening hours and moving from an attendance of 5,000 per year to today's 6 million.
Celts: art and identity
Celts: art and identityBritish Museum24 September 2015 – 31 January 2016Come on a journey tracing what it means to be Celtic. The more you look, the more you'll see…This...
Celts: art and identity + 2 Course Dinner
DINNER OUT! Package includes a great seat for Celts: art and identity, and 2 courses from a set menu at your choice of restaurant from the LOVEtheatre Restaurant Directory....
Celts: art and identity + Entry to the Tower Of London
DISCOVER LONDON! Package includes a ticket to Celts: art and identity plus entry to the Tower Of London - and pay no booking fees. Subject to availability.
Celts: art and identity + London Bus Tour
DISCOVER LONDON! Package includes entry to Celts: art and identity at the British Museum, and a ticket for the Original London Sightseeing Bus Tour.