The British Museum, London

The British Museum, London

I visited the British Museum in London on an afternoon when I only had about two hours to go through it before closing. I most emphatically do not recommend touring the museum that way, as there are some amazing relics and things of beauty to see there.

Because I was limited on time, I had only two must-see items. In order to maximize my chance of seeing them successfully, I looked up their location online. Items on display at the British Museum are located in rooms that are numbered. I also made sure I had a map of the building so I could see where the rooms were located. This saved me a lot of time, which meant I had more time for actually looking at the displays.

My first must-see item was the Rosetta Stone because… well, for goodness’ sake, it’s The Rosetta Stone.

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The other was a bit more obscure. I really wanted to see the Lewis Chessmen because earlier that year I had completed a fabulous Bible study by Beth Moore titled Esther:  It’s Tough Being a Woman. The cover featured these very expressive chess pieces.

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I had no idea they were artifacts. But as it turns out, the Lewis Chessmen are kind of a big deal. Carved from ivory walrus tusks, they were discovered in 1831 on the Isle of Lewis (Outer Hebrides of Scotland). They date from the 12th century and are believed to be Norwegian in origin. I snapped a picture of the queen to share with the ladies in my study group.

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After I’d seen the two things that I most wanted to see, I was free to do a little exploration. I headed to the two areas of museums that always draw my attention: jewelry and majolica.

First the jewelry. Check out this exquisite livery collar.

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I believe that’s Saint George slaying the dragon, and I think there are diamonds on his sword, armor, and horse. Fancy!

Also, there was this “Royal Gold Cup” which dates from the 14th century.

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But the item I saw that almost made me laugh out loud about was this plate, dated 1544:

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The sign describes it as follows: “Dish, Coriolanus implored by his mother not to attack Rome.”  Look closely at what his mama is doing to implore him. Weird!

I could have easily spent an entire day at the Museum, maybe two. There are statues from the Parthenon in Greece (Elgin Marbles) that date from nearly 500 BC, which I am sad to say I breezed right past in order to get to the rooms in which my treasures were located. The Museum’s collection of ancient artwork – not just from Greece, but also Rome and Assyria – is unparalleled. There are things of beauty and things so old you will wonder how they have survived the ravages of time. If you have even a slight appreciation for art or history, the British Museum should be high on your list of places to visit in London. Just make sure you allow more than two hours for it.

The British Museum is located on Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Telephone +44 (0)20 7323 8299. The nearest Tube stations are Tottenham Court and Holborn, both about a ten minute walk away. The Museum is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm, and on Fridays until 8:30 pm. Admission is free.

 

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