Sotheby's - The Lewis Chessman
Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby's

What To Do At The British Museum In Two Hours Or Less

Manon Lamy November 21, 2022

The British Museum is so big that sometimes it can be overwhelming. Its permanent collection counts over eight million works. It is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the world. The British Museum hosts some world-famous objects like the Rosetta Stone, sculptures from the Parthenon and Egyptian mummies. 

If there is one museum you want to visit, the British Museum should be on your list. However, you might not want to spend the whole day in there. In all honesty, the whole day might not even be enough to see all the pieces. Here is a guide to the best things to see in the British Museum in two hours or less. Use it if you have a couple of hours to kill or if it’s raining. Knowing London, it probably will be.

Photo by Merve Sehirli Nasir on Unsplash

The Rosetta Stone

If there is one thing you will want to see it’s the world-famous Rosetta Stone. The stone was rediscovered in 1799 and was crucial in understanding how to read hieroglyphs which helped understand a lot of the Egypt culture. The inscription on the stone is a degree that affirms the royal cult of Ptolemy V. Scholars were able to use the Greek writing on the Rosetta Stone to decipher hieroglyphs

The sculptures of the Parthenon

The temples on top of the Athenian Acropolis were richly adorned by stunning statues. And those statues find themselves in the British Museum. These statues, that were once in the temple Athena Parthenos on the Acropolis, are in the room 18 of the museum. You should not miss any of the Parthenon rooms.

Bust of Ramesses the Great

The bust of Ramesses the Great is one you shouldn’t miss. You won’t miss it simply because of its size. It weighs 7.5 tonnes and, while only the bust is on display, you can imagine how big the statue was back in ancient times. If you walk in room 4 of the museum, you won’t miss it. 

Hoa Hakananai’a

The stunning statue of the Moai is one of the most stunning pieces on display in the British Museum.  It comes from the village of Orongo on Rapa Nui, it is one of hundreds of other statues of the island. This statue is very special and is one of the most stunning pieces in the museum. Its in room 24 and its one you wouldn’t want to miss.

The Lewis Chessman

The Chessmen of Lewis or Uig chessmen are chess pieces which were made from walrus ivory in Scotland. They were sculpted around 1150-1175. They are a thing of beauty. Stunning. The chess pieces had been buried off the Scottish island of Lewis and were rediscovered in 1831. It is one of the most famous chess sets in the world. 

Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby’s

The Sutton Hoo helmet

The movie ‘The Dig’ tells the story of the discovery of the Sutton Hoo mask. This movie is definitely one to watch. The mask is incredibly well conserved. It is made of iron and tinned copper. There are warrior motif that symbolises ‘dancing warrior’ and ‘fallen warrior’. 

This is just a short list of the many things you can do in the British Museum. There are of course many more rooms you can visit should you choose to. If you choose to do the bare minimum or spend hours and hours there, you will not be disappointed by what the British Museum has to offer.

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Manon is in her final year of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham. She has just returned from studying abroad in Vienna, Austria. She joined Freshered in February 2022 as a freelance journalist where she covers everything from Formula 1 to international politics.