I am a medievalist in the process of completing a PhD (involving medieval medicine). I travel as much as possible at home (UK) and abroad. I'm always ready for new experiences!
Published January 5th 2013
See the museum's unseen treasures
The British Museum is packed full of the world's treasures, so much so that usually only a selection of the exhibits can be viewed on one visit. On my first trip to the museum I managed to see the Egyptian wing, the Sutton Hoo Collection, the Rosetta Stone, and a few other treasures from antiquity in a period of three hours. Navigating the museum can be a difficulty due to the size, but also due to the overwhelming crowds. On my visit, the crowd was seven rows deep around the Rosetta Stone, so that I only managed to glimpse the top of it. This made me think that there must be a better way to appreciate the great treasures of this magnificent space. In fact, there is a way to escape the crowds and see some hidden items, as easy as a single phone call.
The public displays are only a small part of the museum. The building is full of corridors, archives stacked to the ceiling with artefacts, and offices of staff full of interesting knowledge. Just seeing the stacks of collections behind the scenes of the museum is an experience in itself. It's a whole world of specimen jars, Victorian oddities, and antique objects that haven't been glimpsed for decades. The expert I spoke with for over an hour was very happy to share his expertise and show some coins not on display to the public.
Tours are not given just for the sake of being behind the scenes, but if you have a serious interest or particular area of knowledge, an appointment can be arranged by phone or by speaking to someone at the information desk (students are particularly welcome). There will certainly be someone at the museum ready to answer your questions and share much more.