The Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon Marbles, and the Assyrian lion hunt are just some of the myriad art treasures we’ll see in this three-hour, in-depth British Museum tour. Led by a trained archaeologist or historian, this walk not only explores the history of the museum and its controversial history of collecting, but goes in-depth with some of its many works from antiquity. Together, we'll rediscover not only the museum's well-known Ancient Egyptian and Greek treasures, but some of its lesser-known—but no less magnificent—Assyrian, Persian, and Mesopotamian artifacts.
We generally start with a thorough overview of how the British Museum came into existence in the mid-eighteenth century, beginning with the Enlightenment Gallery, formerly known as the King’s Library, the first part of the new museum building. Here we will discuss how the discipline of archaeology evolved from the work of antiquaries and also look at how art history was born here with the study of ancient Greek sculpture and vase painting.
Next we’ll traverse the halls of the museum, visiting its most important rooms. This includes the Egyptian collection, where we’ll explore how ancient texts came to be deciphered in the first place and compare the ways in which hieroglyphs and cuneiform, the two earliest scripts, were cracked. We will also spend some time exploring the Rosetta Stone, and some of the nearly 130,000 pieces of cuneiform tablets from ancient Iraq that are on display. Depending on our interests or our guide’s specialty, we may also focus on the art of ancient Iran and/or ancient Iraq, or delve into the Parthenon Marbles. At the end of our time together we will emerge with a better understanding of this major institution and its key role in intellectual life worldwide, leaving us with a sense of wonder and appreciation.
What is a private tour?
Our private tours are limited exclusively to travelers in your party. They are designed to provide a learning experience that is completely tailored to you and your traveling companions. Private tours give you more flexibility with scheduling (you decide when the walk best fits in your trip), the ability to tailor your itinerary (we'll work to match the itinerary to the interests and dynamics of your group), and more personalized time with your guide.
What is a small group tour?
Our small group tours cover many of the same itineraries as our private tours, but they place you with other travelers in groups of 6 or less. They operate on a pre-scheduled calendar, and are designed to provide an opportunity to engage with and learn from other travelers. Most of our small group tours require at least three (3) participants to run, although there is some variation from walk to walk. However, there is some variation from walk to walk. As you sign up for a tentative walk we display the minimum number required in order to confirm.
Where does the tour start? Where does it end?
The tour meets near the British Museum, in an easy to find location away from the crowds. Your confirmation email will have the exact meeting point details along with a map, and 24/7 phone number. The walking tour ends inside the Museum.
Will we see the Parthenon Marbles?
Yes, they are part of the itinerary. In general, we encourage you to share with us your interests so we can adjust the tour to best meet your expectations.
Do we need to pay a ticket to get in?
No, unless you want to see one of the temporary exhibitions, the museum is free. However, donations are greatly appreciated.
Is the British Museum accessible?
The Great Russell Street entrance has 12 steps with a handrail. There are self-operable lifts on both sides of the steps. There is level access at the Montague Place entrance. The majority of galleries and all special exhibitions are fully accessible.
Is this tour good for kids and teens?
Yes! We have some excellent family friendly guides who can appeal to the learning styles of children. We have a separate British Museum for Families walk
just for families with children 12 and under. When booking, please provide us with information about your children such as favorite school subjects, and hobbies. This way we can match you with the best possible guide.