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Impressive, but get in early.
British Museum (London)
Member Name: slackjack
British Museum (London)
Date: 03/07/00, updated on 03/07/00 (42 review reads)
Advantages: Free, some truly fantastic things to see.
Disadvantages: hot, crowded. School parties.
On a recent trip to London, and deciding that some culture would be good for us, we decided to visit the British Museum. I remembered it affectionately from my childhood, and my girlfriend had never been and wanted to see it.
The museum is nicely situated for anyone on holiday in London – chances are you’ll find yourself on Oxford Street or Tottenham Court Road at some point, and the museum is only about a five minute walk from there.
We visited on a Friday afternoon, and found the place to be extremely busy. The building is massive – it needs to be to house the enormous quantity of exhibits. Unfortunately, when we visited, the museum was in the process of a major renovation which will eventually create an open court area In the middle of the museum. At the moment though it means some exhibitions have been temporarily closed, and in other parts of the museum some delicate exhibits have been removed to protect them from vibration caused by the building work.
Upon entering the museum (and this may be partly due to the building work having closed some of the rooms) we were a little confused about where to go – there didn’t seem to be any obvious rooms displaying anything – planning a route seemed to be completely out of the question. After climbing a flight of stairs we found ourselves amongst Viking relics. There is an awful lot to see in each room. People who have visited places such as the Science Museum and Natural History Museum may find it a little dry. It’s a very traditional museum, just labelled exhibits in glass cases – none of the buttons to press and flashing lights that are found in many other museums, but then the subject matter wouldn’t really lend itself to that.. In many cases we found that you really would have to be an enthusiast of a subject to want to look at every item in every room – and if you did that, a visit could take weeks. There’s no set p
ath around the museum and at some points this must lead to many of the galleries being missed out, as people head to the more popular areas.
We found the museum incredibly hot – it wasn’t even a particularly hot day, but inside it was stifling. The number of people inside also caused difficulty sometimes – in some places it wasn’t too much of a problem such as the gallery containing the enormous Egyptian carvings and the Elgin Marbles – it just means that you have to wait a couple of moments to see some things. Trying to view the Egyptian mummies though isn’t pleasant. They are one of the museums greatest attraction, and not only are there lots of tourists, but also masses of incredibly annoying school parties letting the kids crawl around on the floor to draw exhibits and fill in work sheets. I realise that letting schools visit is very important, nut it’s a shame when it ruins the enjoyment of the other visitors. It would be nice if there were some rooms set aside for the school parties to write in, or at least some writing surfaces to keep the kids from under your feet.
Even though I remembered it as a fantastic museum, we left feeling rather disappointed. Many of the exhibits are truly amazing, and I’d certainly recommend visiting, but the heat and the number of people meant that we found it tiring and really didn’t want to stay too long. Entrance to the museum is free (although of course donations are gratefully received) so it would be possible to visit several times during a visit to London. I think if we had arrived earlier in the day we’d have found our visit a much more enjoyable experience.
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