10 Facts About The British Museum in London

10 Facts About The British Museum in London

The British Museum is one of the most famous museums in the world and houses a lot of interesting artifacts. Its collection is said to span more than two million years of human history. Like any old establishment, it also has a few quirky secrets and factoids that make it special. Thus here are ten facts you may not know about the British Museum, one of London’s top tourist attractions.

The Great Court at the British Museum in London. Photo Credit: © Diliff via Wikimedia Commons.

The Great Court at the British Museum in London. Photo Credit: © Diliff via Wikimedia Commons.

1. The British Museum is the oldest museum in the world

The very first national public museum ever built was the British Museum. It was opened in 1759, twenty years before the prestigious Louvre Museum was opened in France and twenty-two years before the Habsburg Royal family in Vienna, opened the Belvedere Palace to the public of Austria.

2. The British Museum birthed the British Library and London’s Natural History Museum

The British Museum is the permanent home of more than eight million artifacts, originating from every continent in the world. Its collection once grew too large to handle, forcing the Museum to open a separate site in South Kensington to house its natural history specimens. This site was known as the British Museum (Natural History) until 1992 when it was renamed as London’s Natural History Museum.

This growth phenomenon happened again with a collection of books and manuscripts. The collection once again outgrew the museum’s ability to provide space for it, and in 1973 it was moved to a separate site which became the British Library.

3. Three of the most popular exhibits at the British Museum are the Oxus Treasure, the Rosetta Stone, and the Elgin Marbles.

The Oxus Treasure is a selection of metalwork which was found by the Oxus River between 1877-1880. The collection numbers about 180 pieces made in gold and silver, as well as 200 coins. The treasure is said to have survived from the Achaemenid Persian period.

Also referred to as the Parthenon Marbles, the Elgin Marbles are a collection of medieval, marble Greek Sculptures. These sculptures were brought to Great Britain in the early 1800s by the Earl of Elgin, who acquired them from the Parthenon Temple in Athens.

Before it became the name of a world-famous typing course, the name Rosetta Stone belonged to an actual stone that was found in Rosetta, Egypt in 1799. The stone had ancient hieroglyphs carved onto it. Its discovery was instrumental to the translation of Ancient Egyptian writing.

Oxus chariot model at the British Museum. Photo Credit: © Babel Stone via Wikimedia Commons.

Oxus chariot model, part of the Oxus Treasure at the British Museum. Photo Credit: © Babel Stone via Wikimedia Commons.

4. The British Museum is regularly visited by tricksters

Every ancient institution is plagued by its fair share of tricksters who either want to steal or play pranks. In 2002, the Greek gallery was deposed of a marble head sculpture. In 2004, it was said that a thief successfully stole a jewelry collection that dated back to 700 AD and contained earrings, fingernail guards, and other items. In 2005, a relatively unknown trickster who went by the name of Banksy played a prank on the museum staff by placing a painting of a primitive man pushing a shopping cart on display. The painting was left on display for a few days before finally being taken down.

5. The most famous guard at the British Museum was a cat

One of the furry facts about the British Museum is that it has been home a lot of cats over the centuries. These cats patrol the grounds, from the courtyards to the gate. The most famous cat-keeper of the main gate was named Mike and he patrolled the gate from 1909-1929. Upon his death, the museum staff mourned him and his obituary was featured in TIME magazine and in the Evening Standard.

6. The British Museum has been mixed up in a lot of controversies

One of the more controversial facts about the British Museum is that its collection is made up of rare artifacts from different countries in the world. As it turns out, many of those countries want their artifacts back and have demanded that they are returned. However, the British Museum has categorically stated that it will not be returning any of the items. The museum does give its pieces out on loan, sometimes even to the countries that the pieces came from originally.

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Elgin Marbles at the British Museum. Photo Credit: © Andrew Dunn via Wikimedia Commons.

Elgin Marbles at the British Museum. Photo Credit: © Andrew Dunn via Wikimedia Commons.

7. The British Museum was one of the first electrified buildings in London

Electricity did not come to the UK until the late 1800s. Until that time, the only lighting available for the Museum was natural light, as the administration would not approve the use of candles or oil lamps in the galleries for fear of fire hazard. This meant that in periods of poor lighting like fog or winter, the Museum had to be closed down. In 1879, electricity was installed to light up the museum; first in the Front Hall, the Forecourt, and the Reading Room.

8. The British Museum is popular in the entertainment industry

One of the most interesting facts about the British Museum is that although lots of people may never have seen it in real life, they have experienced its beauty in various movies over the years. The first movie scene ever shot in the Museum was for The Wakefield Cause, in 1921. Eight years after that, Blackmail, by Alfred Hitchcock was also shot there. Scenes from the Hollywood masterpiece, Day of the Jackal were also shot at the Museum in 1973. Most recently, the museum featured in the global hit movie Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014)

9. Not everything about the British Museum is as it seems

Specifically, the railings of the museum. Many people seem to think they are black. In actual fact, they are painted ‘invisible green’. This paint was made popular by a landscape gardener named Humphry Repton. It is used on most of the railings of historic buildings all over London.

Benin brass plaque at the British Museum. Photo Credit: © Michel Wal via Wikimedia Commons.

Benin brass plaque at the British Museum. Photo Credit: © Michel Wal via Wikimedia Commons.

10. A snail once came back to life in the British Museum

The movie Night at the Museum was not totally fiction. Some museum artifacts have indeed been known to come back to life. The most famous of these cases of suspended animation belongs to a snail which was part of a collection of snails that was donated to the natural history collection in 1846. The snail was on display for four years before anyone noticed it was alive. It was moved to more suitable living conditions and died six years later.

NOTE: The British Museum is located in the Bloomsbury area of London at Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG. The nearest London Underground stations are Tottenham Court Road (500m), Holborn (500m), Russell Square (800m) and Goodge Street (800m). The British Museum is open daily from 10.00 am to 17:30 pm. As the British Museum collection is quite extensive, consider a guided tour as part of one of our London Tours.


Text 2. The British Museum

The National Gallery is one of the most popular attractions in the capital for tourists and Londoners alike, as is the world-famous British Museum. With its Grecian-style façade, the British Museum is a temple to the arts and achievements of the world’s civilizations. Antiquities from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, treasures from the Stone and Bronze Ages, ancient art from the Americas to Asia – the richness and variety of the museum’s collections are unrivalled. The museum was founded in 1753 and was first housed in Montagu House in Bloomsbury. This was later replaced by the present building, which was financed by a lottery.

Inside, there are thousands of amazing items on display, including the Sutton Hoo treasure. This formed the contents of a seventh-century royal ship-burial excavated in Suffolk in eastern England in 1939 and is one of the richest of its kind ever to be found in Europe. It was thought to be the resting place of King Redwald of the East Angels tribe.

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Until recently the museum was also home to the world-renowned British Library. The famous round reading Room, with its magnificent dome, has been restored and now forms the centerpiece of the new Great Court; a vast atrium links the museum’s collections.

When the world’s oldest museum, the Ashmolean in Oxford, opened its doors to the public on 24 May 1683, even the use of the term ‘museum’ was a novelty in English. The museum’s original collection was presented to the University of Oxford by Elias Ashmole (1617 – 1692). It contained man-made and natural specimens from every corner of the known world and was already some 50 years old by this time, having been founded by John Tradescant the elder who used to display the collection at his house in Lambeth, London. Today the Ashmolean’s collections range from antiquities to Western and Eastern art.

1. Answer the following questions:

1. Where is the British museum?

2. When was it founded?

3. When was the British museum housed first?

4. How was the building of British museum erected?

5. What amazing items are in the British museum?

6. Is the British museum the oldest museum of Great Britain?

2. Choose the correct answer.

1. The National Gallery is popular among:

a. visitors c. tourists

b. Londoners d. Londoners and tourists

2. The British Museum is a temple to the arts and achievements of the world’s civilizations and has:

a. Grecian — style façade c. Roman – style façade

b. Egyptian – style façade d. Byzantine – style façade

3. The British museum in its collection has:

a. monuments and treasures c. antiquities and old books

b. golden vases and silver statues d. antiquities, treasures and ancient

4. There is ____________ in the British museum too.

a. cinema c. exhibition center

b. British museum d. shop center

5. The museum’s original collection which was presented to the University of Oxford consisted only of:

a. man-made and natural specimens c. man-made specimens

b. wooden specimens d. natural and human-made

Тут вы можете оставить комментарий к выбранному абзацу или сообщить об ошибке.


English listening test and answers: The British Museum is 255 years old

Today is the 255th anniversary of the opening of The British Museum. To celebrate we have some interesting information about the iconic London institution and an English listening test for you to practise your listening skills. Listen to the audio and answer the mutliple-choice questions to find out how good you are at listening for numbers.

The British museum not far from SGI English school in London

The British Museum

The British Museum is very close to Saint George International and is a regular stop on our famous student social programme which visits London’s best things on offer. After English classes, it is a truly wonderful experience to walk around the incredible building to take a look at all the incredible objects from ancient history from all over the world. There is something for everyone to enjoy and all of the SGI students who visit always say that it is one of the best things to see and do in London during their study holiday. The best thing about the museum is that it is free to enter. Yes, that’s unbelievable, isn’t it? The museum doors are open to the public every day from 10am to 17:30. When you come to SGI to make your English perfect, do not miss out on visiting this great place. You won’t regret it!

English listening test

Here is a little audio with some interesting facts about the British museum. Use it as a listening test to see how good you are at recognising numbers. There are questions below the mp3 for you to answer. When you click on an answer, you will find out if you are right or wrong immediately. English listening test British Museum

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Listening test full transcript

The British Museum opened to the public for the first time in 1759. Back then, only 75 people a day visited the museum. Things have changed a lot in the past 255 years. The busiest day for the museum in 2013 was Friday 16th August, when there were 33,848 visitors. And 2013’s busiest month was July with 747,036 visits. The most popular exhibition in 2013 was called, ‘Life and Death in Pompeii’. The original target that the museum hoped for was 250,000 people, but by the time the exhibition closed more than 471,000 people had seen the display. The most popular exhibition ever was in 1972, when approximately 1.6 million people paid to see ‘Tutankhamen’. Among the thousands of incredible items on display is the famous Rosetta Stone. This is an extremely important text written on a granite slab in 3 languages (Greek, hieroglyphs and Egyptian). The stone dates from 196 BC and arrived at the British museum in 1802. You can also see the controversial Elgin Marbles (bought by the museum in 1816 for £35,000), a statue from Easter Island carved around 1200 AD and a gigantic bust of the Egyptian, Amenohotep III who was Pharaoh from 1390 to 1325 BC. In total there were 6,701,036 visits last year, which was a record for the museum. The previous best ever figure was 2008, when there were 5.9m people who came through the British museum doors.


The British Museum

Прочитайте текст «The British Museum»и ответьте на вопросы преподавателя.

The British Museum.

The British Museum has one of the largest libraries in the world. It has a copy of every book that is printed in the English language, so that there are more than six million books there. They receive nearly two thousand books and papers daily.
The British Museum Library has a very big collection of printed books and manuscripts, both old and new. You can see beautifully illustrated old manuscripts which they keep in glass cases.
You can also find there some of the first English books printed by Caxton. Caxton was a printer who lived in the fifteenth century. He made the first printing-press in England.
In the reading-room of the British Museum many famous men have read and studied.
Charles Dickens, a very popular English writer and the author of ‘David Copperfield’, ‘Oliver Twist’, ‘Dombey and Son’ and other books, spent a lot of time in the British Museum Library.

Британский музей имеет одну из крупнейших библиотек в мире. Он имеет копию каждой книги, напечатанной на английском языке, так что есть больше чем шесть миллионов изданий. Они получают около двух тысяч книг и статей ежедневно.
В Британском музее Библиотека имеет очень большую коллекцию старопечатных книг и рукописей, как старые, так и новые. Вы можете увидеть прекрасно иллюстрированных древних рукописей, которые они держат в стеклянных витринах.
Вы также можете найти там некоторые из первых английских книг, напечатанных по Какстон. Кэкстон был принтер, который жил в пятнадцатом веке. Он создал первый печатный станок в Англии.
В читальном зале британского музея многие известные люди читали и учились.
Чарльз Диккенс, очень популярный английский писатель, автор ‘Дэвид Копперфилд’, ‘Оливер Твист’, ‘Домби и сын’ и других книг, провел много времени в библиотеке британского музея.

О библиотеках

Есть много больших и малых библиотек повсеместно в нашей стране. Они имеют миллионы книг на разных языках. Вы можете найти здесь самых старых и новейших книг.
В каждой школе есть библиотека. Учащиеся приходят в библиотеку, чтобы взять книги на разную тематику.
В школьной библиотеке, где Олег исследований-это хорошо. Это большой чистый номер. Есть четыре больших окна в нем. Стены светло-синий. Есть много полок с книгами. Вы можете найти книги по литературе, физике, истории, химии, географии, биологии и другим предметам. Есть книги на английском языке, тоже.
На стенах вы можете увидеть фотографии некоторых великих писателей и поэтов.
На столе возле окна всегда можно увидеть красивые весенние и осенние цветы.
Олег любит ходить в библиотеку. Он всегда может найти там что-то новое, что-то ему нужно.