Wednesday, February 19, 2014

British Museum

The British Museum in London is one of the best museum's in the world.  It was established in 1753 and opened to the public in 1759.  Since it is a national museum in the UK, entry to the museum is free.  While there can be fees for special exhibitions the museum's main collection of around 8 million works, is free.  Nice! 

The Younger Memnon statue dates back to 1270 BC
The main collection comes from every continent and is dedicated to human history and culture from its beginnings to present day.

The Rosetta Stone is a big granite slab from Egypt.  It was created in 196 BC and discovered in 1799.  In 1801, a French expedition surrendered it to British troops.

It's massive.  It weighs 760 kg (1,680 lb) and contains text written in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Egyptian demotic script and in Ancient Greek.  This is the stone which provided the key to understanding ancient hieroglyphs.

Back in November 2012, Natalie and I visited the Acropolis Museum in Athens.  So we for sure had to check out the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon.  
Today only about ½ of the statues from the Parthenon have survived.  Roughly 50% of the surviving pieces are held in the British Museum.

It's actually controversial.  Since 1983, the Greek government has been campaigning for the works to be returned to Athens.  The British Museum refuses. 

The museum's reasons are (a) the work is cared for and far too delicate to transport and (b) if museums had to send works back to places of origin then there would be no museums in the world.  Others claim that many pieces being cared for were illegally taken in the first place and that cultural heritage belongs at home.

And it's not just the Greeks.  Egypt wants the Rosetta Stone back.

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