A guide to the history and contents of the British Museum

The British Museum is one of London’s most fascinating historical attractions; it’s a place which virtually all regular visitors of this city, including Tunde Folawiyo, will be familiar with. Dedicated to human culture and history, it has over 8 million works on display, making it the largest museum of its kind in the entire world. The collection documents the story of humans from every continent, from the beginning of recorded history, up to the present day.

The museum came into being as a result of the instructions of a will left by Sir Hans Slone, a collector and naturalist who passed away in 1753. Over the course of his life, Sloane had accumulated over 71,000 items, which he then bequeathed to King George II. After the king’s acceptance of this gift, an Act of Parliament led to the establishment of the British Museum. The original display included ethnographic material, drawings, prints, medals, coins, manuscripts and books.

The core building which people can see today was constructed in the early 19th century, ninety-nine years after the museum was first founded. It was designed by a man named Sir Robert Smirke, who chose to make a four-winged quadrangle, with employee residences, as well as separate galleries for Assyrian and classical sculpture. Smirke favoured the Greek Revival style of architecture, which is why there are a number of Greek features at the south entrance, such as the pediment and columns.

Tunde FolawiyoOver the years, the museum’s collection has continued to expand, and today, there are more than a dozen departments, including Prints and Drawings, Prehistory and Europe, the Middle East, Greek and Roman Antiquities, Coins and Medias, Asia, Sudan and Africa, to name just a few. Some of the museum’s most popular artefacts are the Greek statues from the Temple of Artemis and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, along with relics such as the Black Obelisk, from the ancient temples of Nineveh and Calah.

The extensive collection of Egyptian artefacts is also popular amongst visitors of this museum. Tunde Folawiyo, and other history lovers, may know that in addition to a wide array of sarcophagi, there are also several famous statues, such as the Rosetta stone, which was once used by the philologist JF Champollion to read a hieroglyphic text.

History is just one of Folawiyo’s many interests. Anyone who wishes to discover more about him can do so by visiting the Tunde Folawiyo profile on Yolasite

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