One of the things that I love about London is that the museums here are mostly free (and they usually have awesome gift shops). London is a crazy expensive city, but you can see the Elgin Marbles for free. Isn’t that something?
Of course, one of my favourites is The British Museum in Bloomsbury (for how to get there, opening hours and what’s on, click HERE). Back in 1753, Sir Hans Sloane left his amazing collection of books, manuscripts, and objects to the British public, with the idea that it would be free to anyone who loved that kind of thing (“curious and studious persons” in the parlance of the era). What is lovely is that it has been on the same site and free ever since, though it has largely expanded itself.
The entrance is imposing, with it’s high columns and neo-classical Parthenon-like frontage. The building itself is part of the charm, with it’s marble inlaid floors, moulded ceilings, and wide stair cases, which 6 million people a year (up from 5000 in the year it opened) have worn smooth and shiny.
Of course, I have my favourites in this building. Famous for housing, controversially, the Elgin Marbles, and the Rosetta stone, which I always try to stop by on a visit, the Egyptian statuary, the mummies and the Greek and Roman statues are always a go to, for me. However, there are so many things that I have never seen before in the museums huge collection, and this time, I came across a section on the Americas, and explored more deeply into the Viking and Celtic collection (normally I love to check out the Medieval items too, but I only took in a few of them on this trip).
After all that walking, usually about 3 hours for me, the café downstairs does a really good cup of tea and a raison scone, which are fortifying. There’s something about this much history and beauty in one place that is kind of overwhelming. Somewhere back in history someone made these incredible things, each one a marvel on it’s own. Those people who loved these things, and who created them had hopes, dreams, a family, and a belief system, all of which is lost to us. Our lives are kind of a grain of sand, and most of us will never achieve or create something that will last or have meaning like just one of the objects kept here. It’s both humbling and inspiring.
It also makes me feel connected somehow, to people long gone who wanted to create something beautiful and lasting. Their creations, whether intended to be found or to be lost in the burial of the dead, connect us back to them, through thousands of years, and remind me that we’re not so different.
Anyway you want to look at it, it’s a wonderful place to go for inspiration. One of London’s finest. Find out more HERE.