As lovely as London was, there was something about the British Museum that interested me the most.
That could’ve been because of my interest in history, but there was just something about it that drew me in. Sure, London is home to other famous locations, like Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Big Ben and the London Bridge, but I wasn’t as eager to see those as I was to see the British Museum. We only had a day in London, so Mum and I decided the British Museum would be the priority.
I was not prepared for the real thing.
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I thought of the museum originally, but I didn’t realise it would have an entirely circular centre. Upon entrance, there are two gift shops off to either side, along with a cloakroom in the shop to the left. While that was all well and good, the real showstopper (before I saw the exhibits, of course) was the huge main hall.
In the centre of the hall was a cylindrical gift shop, wrapped around the base the huge staircase. The shop had tons of things for sale, from books to CDs to posters to bags. As expected, it was packed with shoppers!
There was also an information booth, two small cafés and a ton of doors and hallways leading off to different exhibits.
Now, it should be noted that Mum and I decided to split up for this museum experience. She wanted to go off for a few hours and take photos, while I wanted to go and stare at the Roman exhibits for three hours straight. (It should also be noted that I didn’t do that because there were too many school groups running around yelling – ironically my pet peeve when it comes to museums.)
We split at the first exhibit to the left of the main hall, which was an Egyptian room. Most of the exhibits in the museum stretched over many rooms, and several of the displays were incredibly similar to others, so it was quite difficult to tell what was what with the exception of the style of the art/artefacts and the captions on the walls. Thank goodness for maps!
Despite having a lot of museum to cram in, what stood out for me was the Roman Britain section and the Roman/Greco section.
The Roman Britain section was full of artefacts found in the area, and while only few came from the time-period I studied in school, there was an entire wall dedicated to the Julio-Claudians, which is what I have the most knowledge about. There was a wall of coins that had evidence from every single emperor in the dynasty, from Tiberius to Nero, along with a few from the Year of the Four Emperors (though it was very few). I spent about half an hour at that wall, just standing and gazing at the coins and even taking pictures.
As the school groups advanced, I kept moving.
The Roman/Greco room was dedicated to the everyday life of citizens in both countries, despite the vast differences. One thing they had that was similar to one another was the religion of both regions, with Roman ideas generally taking after Greek ideas and introducing a different spin.
In the centre of the room were four rows of cabinets which described sport and leisure in mainly Rome, as well as fashion. The wall straight ahead (coming from the bronze and terracotta room), with a second level, displayed pots of all shapes and sizes with religious imagery. It was divided into two sections; one for the Olympians, or the twelve main gods of Greece, and one for the story of Homer’s Trojan War. In the centre, there was a small room which held the temporary exhibit, “Damnation and Desecration in Imperial Rome” – aka, the Julio-Claudians and how crazy they were.
There was so much to see, but Mum and I had agreed to meet for lunch. Good thing because I was starving and those kids were seriously driving me nuts at this point.
The food at the museum was delicious. Mum had found a small café in a secluded area, through the cloakroom and past a closed exhibit. I guess she was looking for a quiet spot away from screaming children too because of all the restaurants, it was the least busy!
We were surprised to see mac and cheese on the menu, something we’d both been craving for a while. It was amazing. With the two different kinds of salad, we filled up before making a plan to spent another hour at the museum before heading off to look around London a little more.
In the hour we had, Mum stayed in the café (planning, she says) while I glanced at a few things I missed, like the Rosetta Stone and an area filled Greek statues and inscriptions, including a replica of the Parthenon.
It was an amazing visit and it cannot be done entirely in one day. I wish we had more time, but there were other things to see in London and with only one day…Just means I’ll have to go back. Call me a nerd, but I could’ve easily skipped everything else and spent more time there. But, not surprisingly, they were closing an hour after we left anyway.
Another great thing about this museum? Entrance was free (although donations appreciated) with only special exhibits being monetised.