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London The British Museum

Feb 25, 2008
However, the old things are often the best and whilst the Tate Modern is truly wonderful and the London Eye absolutely exhilarating, a day spent in the British Museum beats them all.

A vivid reminder of British imperialism at its height, a period when subjects of the crown would seek adventure and fortune in all corners of the earth, the British Museum stands proud as testimony to times gone by where the quest for knowledge drove all. Situated in Russell Square in the West part of Central London, the British Museum is best reached by the Russell Square Underground station, and accommodation in the vicinity is ample. Four star hotel accommodation in the area cost between 90 and 200 GBP per night, and 3 star hotels from around 60GBP per night. For the most part it is expensive to stay in London, but the travel system is so good that staying a little way away from the main attractions may often work out to be worth while. One should always consider and be aware of travel costs in London when choosing where to stay. London is divided into 6 zones from the centre out, and travel costs depend accordingly. An all day travelcard for zones 1 and 2 cost 5.30 GBP off peak, 1-4, 5.90GBP off peak, and 1-6 is 7 GBP off peak. Off peak is after 9.30 am every day.

The British Museum itself is located in Zone 1 and is in close proximity to shops, restaurants, and green areas making it a very pleasant full day destination. Like all museums in London, the British Museum is free to enter, but you will see donation boxes the contents of which help to keep the museum going.

The building which has hosted the British Museum since 1754 is Montagu House, considered in the seventeenth century to be one of the grandest buildings in the London area. By the nineteenth century it was apparent that the original building of Montague house that had been restored after fire 1686 was not big enough to contain the constantly expanding collection of the British Museum. The Townley Gallery was the first extension to be added and in 1808 became the home of the sculpture collection whose owner, Charles Townley, the wing was named after. It only lasted for thirty four years however when it was demolished and replace with the Smirk building. It was during these years that Sir Robert Smirke designed the central elements of the building, completing the Greek Revival style construction in 1852, in order to house what was going to be become the King's Library; King George IV's father's personal library made as a gift to the people of Great Britain. It was Sir Robert Smirke's brother who completed the project and finished the front hall and the central section of the south front, as well as the colonnade, forecourt and the railings. Further galleries have been added since, including King Edward VII's galleries that were completed in 1914.

The highlight of the British Museum for many is the Parthenon gallery containing the freeze and pediment sculptures from the great structure in Athens. The entire of the ancient world is represented in the British Museum from Ancient Rome to Mesopotamia, Egypt to China. The contents is vast and to look at all the exhibits and artifacts would take weeks, so doing a little research before hand to decide on the specific areas of interest is recommended. As we said, entrance is free but there will be various exhibits at any one time that will cost to enter, usually around 12 GBP with concessions available. The website for the British Museum contains all the information necessary both in terms of practical visiting and the exhibitions and the artifacts themselves.
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