Saturday, December 18, 2010

British Museum

The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present
The British Museum was established in 1753, largely based on the collections of the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. The museum first opened to the public on 15 January 1759 in Montagu House in Bloomsbury, on the site of the current museum building. Its expansion over the following two and a half centuries was largely a result of an expanding British colonial footprint and has resulted in the creation of several branch institutions, the first being the British Museum (Natural History) in South Kensington in 1887.

The courtyard had been a lost space since 1857. The re-design of the Great Court meant that this hidden space could be seen again.

The design of the Great Court was loosely based on Sir Norman Foster’s concept for the roof of the Reichstag in Berlin, Germany. A key aspect of the design was that with every step in the Great Court the vista changed and allowed the visitor a new view on their surroundings.

Work on the Great Court's magnificent glass and steel roof began in September 1999. The canopy was designed and installed by computer. It was constructed out of 3,312 panes of glass, no two of which are the same.

At two acres, the Great Court increased public space in the Museum by forty per cent, allowing visitors to move freely around the main floor for the first time in 150 years.

Without question, this museum ranks among the best in the world.  I spent about 4 to 5 hours in the museum until it closed at 9:00.  The courtyard is a masterfully planned space allowing access to multiple levels of galleries with ease.  The principle thought that went through my head as I walked through this place was that around me were the intellectual works of thousands of lifetimes worth of ideas and millions of hours of craftsmanship.  Brilliant and awe-inspiring collection of artifacts.   

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