Visiting the British Museum

The following post is a guide to visiting the British Museum. Learn how best to get there, which tours to take, and how to plan your visit.

Or let us show you around on our new British Museum Tour.


Paid and Free Exhibitions

Nearby Attractions

 

Getting There

Tickets & Hours

Public Tours



Getting There

The British Museum is very conveniently located in central London. There are 4 tube stations less than a 10 minute walk away: Russell Square Station (Piccadilly Line), Holborn Station (Piccadilly and Central Lines) Goodge Street Station (Northern Line), and Tottenham Court Road Station (Central Line and Northern Line). Additionally, there are several bus stations nearby.

 

 


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Tickets & Hours

Perhaps the best thing about the British Museum is that it is FREE to visit! The Great Court and several of the galleries cost nothing to visit. However, the British Museum also features a handful of paid exhibitions. Prices for the paid exhibitions range immensely, so see the British Museum website for an up-to-date list. For a full list of the current paid exhibitions, read our ‘Paid and Free Exhibitions’ section below. Members of the British Museum can visit the paid exhibitions for free. To become an annual member, register here.

The galleries are open daily from 10.00–17.30. However, on Fridays the galleries have extended hours and are open until 20:30.

The Great Court, on the other hand, is open daily from 09.00–18.00, and 09.00–20:30 on Fridays.

 


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Public Tours

Daily Eye-Opener Tour: These tours run every 15 minutes between 11:00-15:45 from different areas of the museum. The tours are completely free to follow, are held within one of the free galleries, and typically last 30-40 minutes each. Because there are so many offered throughout the day (more than 1o, typically!) these brief, taster tours are perfect to take if you’re short on time and keen on learning more about the artefacts in a specific room.

  • Cost: FREE!
  • Length of tour: 30-40 minutes
  • Time of tour: Several times, daily

Lunchtime Gallery Talks: The Lunchtime Gallery Talks are held on Tuesdays-Fridays at 13:15 in one of the many galleries. They last 45 minutes and range immensely. For a full list of all the Lunchtime Gallery Talks offered, see their upcoming calendar. The talks are led by one of the museum curators or a guest speaker.

  • Cost: FREE!
  • Length of tour: 45 minutes
  • Time of tour: Tuesdays-Fridays at 13:15

Spotlight Tours: These tours take place every Friday evening as an accompaniment to the late night open hours. They last 20 minutes each, and run on the hour and half hour between 17:00 and 19:30. The topics change every Friday, but each focuses on a particular time period or theme. Click here for the weekly schedule of Spotlight Tours.

  • Cost: FREE!
  • Length of tour: 20 minutes
  • Time of tour: Friday evenings

Around the world in 90 minutes: This signature tour covers several highlights from each of the free galleries. Learn about the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon frieze, and the Lewis Chessmen, amongst many other things. The tour aims to educate guests on important artefacts from various cultures around the world.  At 90 minutes long, this is by far the longest tour offered by the museum. It is also the only paid tour, costing £12 per person. Book your place in advance online.

  • Cost: £12 per person
  • Length of tour: 90 minutes
  • Time of tour: 11:30 and 14:00

Audio Guide: Finally, the British Museum also offers an audio guide which can be picked up from the audio guide desk in the Great Court. The guide costs £6 and is available to use until 30 minutes before closing. Unlike the staff-led tours, the audio guide allows guests the freedom to pick which galleries or specific objects they wish to learn about. In total, there are 260 expert commentaries that are available in several different languages The audio guide also features an interactive map of the museum, making it easy to navigate the many different galleries.

 


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Paid and Free Exhibitions

The exhibitions at the British Museum change every few months, so it’s best to check their website for the most up-to-date list of what’s on. Currently, there are 3 paid exhibitions on offer:


Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds — This exhibition features artefacts from Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus–two lost cities that were once located on the edge of the Nile. For the last 20 years, a team of archaeologists have been excavating objects from the Mediterranean. Each offers insight into the ancient civilisations of Greece and Egypt.

 

 

  • Cost: £16.50, under 16s free
  • Runs from 19 May – 27 November 2016
  • More information

 


South Africa: The Art of a Nation — Explore more than 100,000 years of South African history through art through this exhibition. It features some of the world’s oldest art, as well as more recent pieces that reflect the country’s contemporary culture.

 

 

  • Cost: £12, under 16s free
  • Runs from 27 October 2016 – 26 February 2017
  • More information

 


The American Dream: Pop to the Present — This exhibition features American pop art and prints from the 1960s and onwards. Artists such as Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and Kara Walker are amongst several others whose work is on display. Major political events, such as JFK’s assassination and the Cold War, in addition to several social issues like the AIDS epidemic and racism serve as inspiration in each piece.

 


Additionally, there are a number of completely free exhibitions. Those currently on offer include:

  • Courting to Contract: Love and Marriage in Iran
  • Money Matters
  • Shadow Puppet Theatre from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand
  • French Portrain Drawings from Clouet to Courbet
  • Rock Art: Power and Symbolism in Southern Africa
  • Maggi Hambling — Touch: Works on Paper
  • Defacing the Past Damnation and Desecration in Imperial Rome

 


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Nearby Attractions 

Thanks to its central location, the British Museum is near to many other attractions. Some of our favourites include:

 


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