I have an admission to make. I’d been in London six years before I went to the British Museum. Although saying that, the more friends I talk to, the more people admit that they haven’t been either. So this is for those of you who haven’t been before or haven’t been in a while to convince you to go. This is why it’s great:
1. They always do special events – at the moment there’s a South African garden outside, but they’ve also done everything from Chinese calligraphy to Mexican guitar nights with wine-tastings, and they do regular talks and late night openings and really imaginative exhibitions. And as you know, learning stuff + wine = my kind of culture.
2. The building itself is just amazing. 18th century outside, 21st century Norman Foster inside – making the largest indoor courtyard in the world. Its stunning – our froggie friends will hate this but I think its more impressive than the Louvre inside. But you’re better at making toasted cheese sandwiches, so we’re even, non?
3. Although this is controversial, it contains Elgin’s marbles. Turns out Elgin’s marbles are not in fact small round balls that school children play with (not just me who wasn’t sure, m’kay?!) but sculptures taken from the Parthenon in Greece to save them from destruction or because we were once greedy imperialist pigs, depending on your views. Whether or not you agree with the morality of this, they are amazing – sculpted around 2,500 years ago, they feature centaurs and warriors and gods and godesses. Oh and made me realise that gladiator sandals and the “grecian goddess look” are like sooooo 400 BC. Seriously though, the marbles may be sent back to Athens so go see them while you can. And as the museum itself says, its great to see these next to Egyptian, British and other artefacts to compare what was happening round the world at that time.
I swear I have this dress in blue
4. I recognised so much ancient jewellery and clothes that are fashionable nowadays that I reckon most designers must visit for inspiration. Below is some of the fabulous jewellery on show – makes you see the links between then and now.
5. I am really a small child underneath it all. I loved the mummies. And especially this mummified cat which still makes me larf. I also saw a mummified crocodile, baboon and eel. He he.
6. I must admit I was going round the Greek and Egyptian sections thinking – while these guys were doing this amazing art and sculpture and inventing stuff and using science and technology and wearing cool jewellery – what were we Brits doing? Dragging our knuckles along the ground and eating mud? Well turns out I was wrong – us Brits were also sophisticated back then, even before. Below is a Welsh cape from 1600 BC – yes some lucky lady had this on her shoulders almost 3,500 years ago (helpfully modelled by the woman standing behind it). And the Anglo Saxon helmet is quite cool and its from 600-700 AD.
So go in, grab a coffee and have a wander – its best to pick specific things you want to see as you can’t possibly take it all in at once. Or pick up a brochure for A History of the World in 100 objects and be taken from 2 millions years ago to easter island statues.