Secrets of the British Museum…Well if the Paddington movie is anything to go by, London’s British Museum holds more than a few secrets. The British Museum was founded by Sir Hans Sloan in 1753. Sloan was an avid collector during his life and at his death had over 71,000 objects in his collection. This collection he bequeathed to the nation. In the same year, an Act of Parliament established the British Museum. Six years later the Museum opened to the public and has always had free admission “for enquiring minds”. Apart from some time during the two World Wars the Museum has remained open ever since. Today more than 6 million people visit annually.
There are many interesting pieces including the Rosetta Stone and preserved Egyptian mummies. The first Egyptian mummy was bequeathed in 1756. It is interesting to note that the Museum’s Assyrian collections have formed the basis of understanding the ancient Middle Eastern script, cuneiform, while the Rosetta Stone helped unlock the mysteries of hieroglyphics. Thousands of years later, following Captain Cook’s around the world voyage, several pieces were donated including a Tahitian mourners dress. Today the Museum is one of London’s biggest attractions with an astounding number of collections, and where a visit will yield some interesting and fascinating secrets and possibly some questions of your own.
Fun Fact: Eccentric donations have included, a trunk of a tree gnawed by a beaver, a stone resembling a loaf of bread and a live tortoise from North America…
Extra Fun Fact: The Winged Bull exhibit was ambushed by a gang of robbers as it was being transported to the Museum in the 18th century. You can still see a mark from a musket ball on the statue today.
The British Museum has all the information.
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