One of the largest and most comprehensive museums in the world, the British Museum is dedicated to the exploration of human history, art and culture. It was established in 1753 in Bloomsbury’s Montagu House and was based on the collection of Sir Hans Sloane, a physician and scientist. The collection rapidly expanded over the next two and a half centuries during the years of British colonization and resulted in numerous branch institutions, including the British Museum of Natural History in South Kensington.
The British Museum is renowned for its Greek Revival facade that was designed by Sir Robert Smirke and is fronted by 44 Ionic columns, while sculptures by Sir Richard Westmacott depicting the progress of civilization decorate the main en-trance pediment. The museum boasts the world’s largest collection of Egyptian antiquities (outside of Cairo), including an extensive range of artifacts from the ancient cultures of the Nile Valley.
There’s also an outstanding number of antiquities from the Classical world, ranging from the Greek Bronze Age through to the Roman Empire, together with Assyrian sculptures, Babylonian and Sumerian antiquities. The collection represents the civilizations of Persia, the Arabian Peninsula and Anatolia, as well as the Caucasus and parts of Central Asia.
The Department of Prints and Drawings is internationally renowned and dates back to the 14th century, including significant works by some of the leading European masters. There are Stone Age artifacts from Africa and Iron Age objects from Europe, as well as a broad range of ethnographic items from throughout Asia, Oceania and the Americas.