PrincessaPetra in Bronze Age Gold Cape @ The British Museum, London
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
It is time for yet another fabulous blog post on one of the most intriguing museums in the world – the one and only British Museum – a symphony of cultures and one of London’s most treasured jewels which I had the pleasure and honor to visit during my short, yet amazingly graceful visit during my birthday weekend.
I recall arriving at the British Museum on the very first day fully spent in London, right after the shopping spree on Carnaby Street. I was already satisfied about going to the Too Faced Store, receiving compliments from strangers on the street and the Sun shining brightly in what I thought to be a gloomy London. It was a warm spring day, I was boosting with Energy and I was pretentiously wearing a full pink outfit and sequins for this special ocassion.
This color does wonders on me and it has a healing effect on everyone who sees me.
I will not go a paragraph more without metioning how magical London is in terms of the quick manifestation of my wishes and dreams. If you can imagine the Power of Intention and the Law of Attraction going hand in hand at full speed, it was enough just to think about something in order to notice it simply happening.
Never have I ever encountered such a powerful Energy but in England and Scotland – God bless the Queen.
This time, I clearly stated my wish to see the Egyptian Art collection held by the British Museum, as I have learnt at the Cairo Museum in Egypt I had much to see. It never ceases to amaze me how much Beauty there is to see diving deep into the Art of Egyptology. I am simply fascinated by their culture and civilization – I will always remember how Tutankhamon’s treasure changed my perception and revolutionized my vision on Art, Color, Design, Texture, Manufacture and nevertheless, Wealth and Beauty, and yes, I am aware historians do not even consider him one of the richest Pharaohs/Kings that existed. I was pleased to see that, in spite of having an impressive collection of artefacts indeed, the most important ones (for my consideration) are still held dearly in Egypt. I also payed much attention to Persian Art, as it is one of the finest and most intriguing.
I, as any other citizen of high culture with a strong sense of national identity, would like the treasures of a country to be maintained at origins and only temporarily be displayed in other contexts per request, contract and mutual agreement. I was displeased to learn Nefertiti’s bust is held in Berlin’s Neues Museum. My wish is for the world treasures must be returned to their rightful owners. Considering the Royal status of England, London being one of the richest and most cosmopolitan chic cities I have ever visited, this won’t be much of a problem – not in terms of wealth, nor for its image, I believe – the British Museum will still be one of the most visited venues in the world, with a big gain in reputation and therefore popularity.
We will now embark on an astonishing mission to discover The British Museum’s most precious artefacts in the line of Egyptology but not before revealing not only some general but some intriguing facts about it, as well.
Great Russell Street,
London WC1B 3DG
Free, open daily 10.00–17.30
Fridays: open until 20.30*
* except Good Friday
+44 (0)20 7323 8181
The British Museum, located in the Bloomsbury area of London, United Kingdom, is a public institution dedicated to human history, art and culture. Its permanent collection numbers some 8 million works, and is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence having been widely sourced during the era of the British Empire, and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present. Only 1%, or 80,000 of these objects are on display at any given time in 194 designated store rooms. The British Museum has grown to become one of the largest museums in the world, covering an area of over 92,000 meters square (990,000 square feet).
Designed by Foster and Partners, the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court, commonly referred to simply as the Great Court transformed the Museum’s inner courtyard into the largest covered public square in Europe. It is a 8,000 square meter (2 acres) space enclosed by a spectacular glass roof with the world-famous Reading Room at its center. Visitor numbers have grown from around 5,000 a year in the eighteenth century to nearly 7 million today. It is the second most visited art museum in the world, after the Louvre.
Some of the museum’s most popular and important exhibits include the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles, the Oxus Treasure.
The Rosetta Stone is a stone with writing carved into it. French soldiers found it in Egypt in 1799. It helped people get a better understanding of the Ancient Egyptian writing system called hieroglyphics. Its discovery led to the translation of Ancient Egyptian writing. The stone is named after the city where it was found, Rosetta.
The Elgin Marbles, also known as the Parthenon Marbles, are a series of ancient Greek sculptures made from marble. They were originally part of the Parthenon temple in Athens but they were taken away by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin in the early 1800s.
The Oxus Treasure is a collection of about 180 surviving pieces of metalwork in gold and silver, the majority rather small, plus perhaps about 200 coins, from the Achaemenid Persian period which were found by the Oxus river about 1877-1880.
Now I’ve done a little research and came out with some extraordinary secrets about The British Museum highlighted on their Blog which can delight and surprise even the most enthusiastic Museum fan.
The British Museum is older than the USA
The British Museum is the world’s oldest national public museum. Founded in 1753, it opened its doors in 1759, 17 years before the Declaration of Independence. It was free to all ‘studious and curious persons’, and it’s still free today (but a few other things have changed).
The Museum had its own tube station for over 30 years
MIND THE GAP! That’s the gap between when there was a British Museum tube station and now. The photos above (courtesy of London Transport Museum) show the entrance to the Museum’s underground station in 1921, some gentlemen waiting on the platform in 1903 (with some fabulous hats!) and its construction in 1898. The station opened in 1900, but was closed in September 1933 when the new Holborn station opened, less than 100 yards away.
The British Museum got so big it had to create two other national institutions to cope
Sir Hans Sloane had collected a vast number of natural history specimens, and these were part of the Museum’s collection for over a hundred years. In the 1880s, with space in Bloomsbury at a premium, it was agreed that these collections should move to a new site in South Kensington. London’s Natural History Museum was still officially known as the British Museum (Natural History) until 1992, despite being legally separate since 1963! Similarly, the founding collection contained a huge number of manuscripts and books. The collection continued to grow and grow, until the British Library became a separate institution in 1973. Even then, it remained in the Bloomsbury site until 1997 when it moved to the new building on Euston Road.
The Museum was one of the first buildings to use electric lighting
Until the late 19th century the Museum was lit by natural daylight. Candles, oil lamps and gas lamps were not used in the galleries for fear of fire, and so the Museum was often forced to close early due to poor light in winter or during a London fog. As such, the Museum became one of the first public buildings in London to install electric lighting. In 1879 experimental electric lighting was provided in the Front Hall, the Reading Room and in the Forecourt. Although this early lighting system was unreliable, the Reading Room was able to stay open until 19.00 during the winter. Within 10 years an improved system had been extended to most of the public areas.
The Museum has been a popular film set
With 15 films to its name, the British Museum has a recognisable role in the movie world. The cameras first arrived in 1921 for The Wakefield Cause, and were here again in 1973 for Hollywood classic, Day of the Jackal. In 1929, Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail was shot in the Museum, becoming one of the first movies to feature the Schüfftan process – a special effect that uses mirrors to make it appear that the actors are on a vast set. You can see it in action in the clip below.
Younger readers might remember its appearance in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014). Sian Toogood was broadcast manager on the film: ‘The limitations of what is possible within the British Museum meant that Fox only filmed here for three nights, from the moment the gates closed to the public to 07.00 the next day. They had 200 crew on site, a 40-tonne crane, helium balloon lights so large they couldn’t fit through the front door when inflated, and a myriad of other lights, cameras and stands. A visual effects crew also 3D-scanned key spaces and dozens of objects to populate the film. Then there were the horses (outside) and the monkeys (inside).’
Each year around 50 film crews come to film everything from documentaries to music videos, so Night at the Museum won’t be the last time we see the Museum on the silver screen.
The British Museum is the largest indoor space on Google Street View
In November 2015 the Museum broke a modern record. Mapped out and presented digitally, the Museum became the largest indoor space on Google Street View. You can explore it at your leisure from the comfort of your own home (or the discomfort of the bus, or anywhere really), plus there are stories of thousands of highlight objects at the Google Cultural Institute.
Banksy had an unofficial exhibit at the Museum
In May 2005, world-famous street artist Banksy snuck a rock depicting a caveman with a shopping trolley into the British Museum. It stayed there for two days before anyone noticed it. He even added his own sign, saying the cave painting showed, ‘early man venturing towards the out-of-town hunting grounds’. It has since disappeared, and nobody’s sure where it is today!
A British Museum snail holds the record for longest suspended animation
Yep, you read that correctly. Of all the things in the British Museum that could come back to life, the world record for the longest period spent ‘dead’ before reanimation goes to a humble snail. Donated in 1846 (so when the natural history collection was still in Bloomsbury), the snail belonged to a collection put together in Egypt and Greece. They were stuck onto cardboard for display, and remained there for four years until the zoologist William Baird noticed that one of them had started producing a strange mucus-like membrane in an apparent attempt to stop itself drying out. The snail was quickly rescued from its papery captivity and rehoused with a living partner, where it lived until its (actual) death in 1852.
The British Museum is the UK’s most popular attraction
With around 6.5 million annual visitors, the British Museum is the UK’s most visited attraction, more popular than the Tate, the National Gallery and even Blackpool Pleasure Beach!
The Museum loans more objects than any other institution in the world
As a museum of the world, for the world, it’s vitally important that the objects in the collection are shared with as many people as possible. In 2015/16 over 5,000 objects were sent across the globe on loan, making us the most sharing museum on the planet.
If you are in London and share my passion for Egyptian Art, my personal recommendation is to visit the international exhibition ‘Pharaoh – King of Egypt’.
As previously presented on my blog, Egyptian Pharaohs presented themselves as all-powerful and pious: brave military leaders who extended the boundaries of Egypt, while satisfying the gods.
Pharaohs styled themselves as ‘ruler of the Two Lands’, uniting Egypt, and as ‘son of Ra’, as if directly descended from the gods. They were an intermediary between the people and these gods, responsible for building temples and performing rituals, ensuring Egypt’s safety from enemies, and maintaining its prosperity.
The exhibition explores the ideals, symbolism and ideology of Egyptian kingship, but also seeks to uncover the realities behind these images. The rulers of this land were not always male, nor even always Egyptian. At times, Egypt was divided by civil war, conquered by foreign powers or ruled by competing kings. Assassination plots and coups are also attested. While some kings were revered – such as Thutmosis III who expanded Egypt’s empire to its largest extent – others were the subject of satire. Many of the objects surviving from ancient Egypt project the image Pharaoh wanted us to see – but this exhibition also explores the realities and challenges of ruling an ancient Empire.
Alongside monumental statues, beautifully carved stone reliefs from ancient temples, and glittering gold jewellery, the exhibition also features more unusual objects: the colourful inlays used to decorate a Pharaoh’s palace; diplomatic letters to Egypt’s allies inscribed on clay tablets; images of Persian, Greek and Roman rulers who acted as Pharaoh; a papyrus recording a trial for temple robbery; the wooden bow of one of the king’s troop commanders.
In spite of the short duration of my remarkable visit at the British Museum and my fascination with the Egyptian Art on display which captivated my attention and distracted my path from other important highlights which I will surely admire in the very near future, please delight yourselves with the pictures I have taken and the thought I will be back soon with another wonderful episode on the Natural History Museum.
Enjoy with Joy!
Your Majestic Highness
The Most Serene,