British Museum

  • Caroline TullyEmail author
Living reference work entry

Basic Information

Situated in Great Russell Street, London, the British Museum ( was created by an Act of Parliament in 1753 and opened to the public in 1759. Governed by a board of 25 trustees in accordance with the British Museum Act of 1963 and the Museums and Galleries Act of 1992, the museum is a nondepartmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The museum’s stated purpose is “to hold for the benefit and education of humanity a collection representative of world cultures and to ensure that the collection is housed in safety, conserved, curated, researched and exhibited” (British Museum n.d.).

The British Museum originated with the collection belonging to physician and naturalist, Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753), which consisted of natural history specimens, ethnographic material, antiquities, jewelry, coins, medals, prints, and Orientalia. This was combined with a large library of manuscripts assembled by Sir Robert...

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  1. Fitzgerald, N. 2012. Foreword. In The British Museum 2011/2012 review. London: The British Museum.Google Scholar
  2. The British Museum Management and Governance. n.d. Available at: Accessed 24 Aug 2017.
  3. Wilson, D.M. 2002. The British Museum: A history. London: The British Museum Press.Google Scholar

Further Reading

  1. Bohrer, F.N. 1994. The times and spaces of history: Representation, Assyria, and the British Museum. In Museum culture: Histories, discourses, spectacles, ed. D.J. Shearman and I. Rogoff, 197–222. Mineapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  2. Coombes, A.E. 1994. Reinventing Africa: Museums, material culture, and popular imagination in late Victorian and Edwardian England. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Hoberman, R. 2011. Museum trouble: Edwardian fiction and the emergence of modernism. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.Google Scholar
  4. Hooper-Greenhill, E. 1992. Museums and the shaping of knowledge. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Moser, S. 2006. Wondrous curiosities: Ancient Egypt at the British Museum. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  6. Schubert, K. 2009. The curator’s egg: The evolution of the museum concept from the French revolution to the present day. London: Ridinghouse.Google Scholar
  7. Wilson, D.M., ed. 1989. The collections of the British Museum. London: British Museum Publications Ltd.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Historical and Philosophical StudiesUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Sonia Archila
    • 1
  • Michael Ryan
    • 2
  1. 1.Departament of AnthropologyUniversidad de los AndesBogotáColombia
  2. 2.Independent ArchaeologistDublinIreland