Short read: “incomparably rich treasure chest”
Long read: The British Museum is the big one. The most important museum on the planet, it brims with things of world historical importance. The Rosetta Stone, the Egyptian antiquities and mummies, the Assyrian lion-hunt reliefs, the Parthenon Sculptures, the Black Obelisk, the Enlightenment Gallery, 4,500-year-old “Ginger” (the “pre-dynastic” red head!), the Sutton Hoo treasure, the Portland Vase, Roman gold, Celtic gold, ivories and enamels, tiles and pottery, an astonishing display of instruments for measuring time… here is civilisation, manifest. Here the past turns on its pivots to face the 21st century. The snag is that you can’t see for looking. Both because of the embarrassment of riches and the sheer size of the place (the building covers 13.5 acres – set off in the wrong direction and you have to walk three times too far). Indeed, how you see it is almost as important as what you see. “The best commentary on the revolution of Greek art and the quality of its achievement is…simply to come direct to the Elgin room from the Egyptian and Assyrian ones, as if into an explosion of life, even, as in the frieze, of gaiety.” Which is by way of saying, to see these things with a great guide… well, you’ll never be quite the same again. In short, the secret is to use your time at the British Museum well.
Want another peek? Here’s a Brian tour de force. He’s guiding the Assyrian Lion Hunt. Guiding like this is why he’s the People’s Choice, has people going around chanting, “We want Brian, we want Brian.”
BRITISH MUSEUM TOUR – THE PRACTICALS
The British Museum Tour takes place at 2.15 pm, every* Wednesday
The meeting point is just outside the exit of Russell Square Tube.
N.B. The British Museum tour ends, needless to say, in the British Museum, which is very near three Tube stops: Russell Square, Holborn and Tottenham Court Road.
*Except Dec. 25 and Jan. 1