The British Museum is one of the world’s great museums. With over 8 million pieces in its permanent collection, it features a remarkable representation from around the world. The ways in which some of the artifacts were acquired–some say pilfered, some say protected–is rightly controversial. A sizable portion of the collection was made possible by the long reach of British colonialism. But there’s little argument that the British Museum is an astonishing resource for understanding human history and culture.
The museum is conceptually similar to the Met in New York. You won’t find any dinosaur skeletons here or space shuttles. But you will find plenty of Egyptian mummies, ancient Roman and Greek artifacts, statues of Asian deities, and coverage of the span of human inhabitation of the British Isles.
A mosaic of glazed bricks depicting a lion that formed part of a larger facade to one of Nebuchadnezzar II’s buildings in Babylon. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.
Known as The Cuerdale Hoard, this collection of Viking silver is on display in the British Museum in London. It was found in a lead chest beside the River Ribble at Cuerdale, Lancashire, and consists of around 7500 coins and 1200 pieces of bullion. It is the largest Viking hoard known from Western Europe and has been dated to around AD 905 to 910. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.
Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.
A grand stairway inside the main entrance to the British Museum in London. At right of the frame is The Townley Caryatid, a Roman sculpture dated to about AD 140-170, on display near the main entrance. It was found around 1585-90 near the Via Applie outside Rome. It was acquired by the Peretti family and was kept at the Villa Peretti Montalto, later Negroni. In 1784 the contents of the Villa were sold, and the Caryatid was afterward bought by Charles Townley. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.