How is it possible that I have lived in London for so many years but have never ventured to the British Museum? I have rectified this now but it seems odd that such a predominant institution in London had escaped my attention previously. I blame the funny location; tucked between Holborn and Tottenham Court road, you walk down some little side streets and suddenly your faced with this huge, imposing building towering before you, ready to be explored.
The British Museum is one of those wonderful free museums in London, holding artefacts from civilisations across the globe. The building itself, with it's vast glass ceiling which floods the atrium with light, encompasses the original buildings under one roof and has an array of rooms and galleries separated by region. The museum is so huge that it would be impossible to see everything in one day and my advice would be to pick a handful of things to see, or pick up a floor guide which gives you different options for must see items, depending on your time limit.
I had already decided before I went that I wanted to see China, South Asia and Southeast Asia, Islamic World and Ancient Cyprus so those were the galleries I focused on. And boy is there a lot to see. After two hours in China, South Asia and Southeast Asia I had only managed to adequately view 2 thirds of the contents of the gallery, but decided to move on to the Islamic world before it was too late.
The museum contents is pretty mind-blowing; sculptures, paintings, ceramics, jewellery, tiles, clothing, furniture and calligraphy all create a narrative of a particular time, place or culture. The array of different items in the China, South Asia and Southeast Asia gallery and the insight into such a extensive culture was interesting. However my favourite was the Islamic World gallery which contained ceramics and tiles, in true Middle Eastern style, with gorgeous colouring and intricate patterns for your eyes to dance over.
Egypt will be on my radar next time I visit. To plan your visit to the British Museum, visit their website.