London's Finest
Artefacts and Art Collections

Collections of the British Museum

History of the British Museum dates back to the mid-18th century. It was founded in 1753 and opened to the public six years later. Its original collection that was mainly based on a collection of Sir Hand Sloane expanded tremendously over following centuries and today, the British Museum is home to one of the largest and most impressive collections of artefacts in the world. The number of displayed artefacts and those in depots is estimated to be approximately 8 million.

The Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan has the world’s largest and finest collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts outside Egypt. The collection includes some of the most important objects from virtually all notable archaeological sites in Egypt and Sudan, telling a story about the region from the Neolithic period through the Middle Ages. In total, the collection of the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan contains over 100,000 individual artefacts.

The British Museum collection of ancient Greek and Roman artefacts is just as impressive as that of ancient Egyptian antiquities. The Department of Greece and Rome has one of the most comprehensive collections of the Classical period in the world, encompassing more than 100,000 individual pieces. The majority of artefacts date from the Greek Bronze Age through Late Antiquity but the collection also includes Minoan and Mycenaean objects.

The Department of the Middle East has the finest collection of artefacts from ancient Mesopotamia in the world after Iraq. Among approximately 350,000 artefacts are pieces of priceless value including Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian antiquities.

Encompassing approximately 75,000 objects, the Department of Asia has an impressive collection of artefacts from all over Asia, from the Neolithic period to modern history.

The Department of Prehistory and Europe holds an enormous collection of artefacts from all over Europe from the earliest human-made objects including wedding bands belonging to Queens, to prehistoric items and antiquities of Roman Britain. The Department’s collection also includes one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of horology.

Visitors of the British Museum also have an opportunity to explore one of the world’s finest ethnographic collections from Africa, Oceania and the Americas, encompassing more than 350,000 objects.

The British Museum is also home to the Department of Coins and Medals which takes care of one of the most impressive numismatic collections in the world, the Department of Conservation and Scientific Research, and Libraries and Archives.