As the world’s first nationally-recognised public museum, the UK’s British Museum remains amongst the most beloved. Founded during 1753, the museum has provided a stunning glimpse of art to millions of visitors over its existence. Its rich history continues to inspire art enthusiasts around the globe with Tunde Folawiyo and millions of others with a love for the city of London regarding this wondrous locale as one of the UK’s most treasured establishments.
The popularity of British Museum has grown exponentially with time, boasting over 6 million visitors to date. Its permanent collections house approximately 8 million creative and historical works, rendering it amongst the largest, most comprehensive museum in the world today. With pieces from every continent, its superb collection documents an enormous span of a wide array of human cultures, demonstrating its vast significance in the dynamic worlds of art and history.
It was Sir Hans Sloane, a physician, collector and naturalist who first entertained the idea of a national museum to serve England. Throughout the course of his lifetime, Sloane acquired over 71,000 objects he wished to undergo preservation upon his death. He donated his entire collection in exchange for King George II’s £20,000 payment to Sloan’s heirs. The British Museum was officially established during 7 June of 1753, with its founding collection mostly consisting of books, natural specimens, manuscripts and other antiquities such as coins, prints and medals.
Open to the British public during January of 1759, British Museum was first located in Montagu House, a 17th century mansion in Bloomsbury. It acquired a number of high profile objects during the early nineteenth century, such as the coveted Rosetta Stone in 1802 and Parthenon sculptures in 1816. The institution’s following expansion over a period of nearly three centuries resulted from expanding British colonial footprints, initiating a creation of several popular branch institutions including the Britain’s Museum of Natural History, located in South Kensington during 1881. Some of the collection’s objects, including the Parthenon’s Elgin Marbles remain controversial with calls to return them to their respective locations of origin.
The museum experienced a great increase in visitors during the 19th century whilst the 20th century brought an expansion in areas like public services, paving the way for the outstanding popularity of the museum today. It continues to attract crowds of all ages and social classes, particularly on public holidays. Tunde Folawiyo and others with a love for the city of London may regard the British Museum as one of the finest institutions for learning within the UK and around the globe.