British Museum

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Coordinates: 51°31′10″N 0°07′37″W / 51.519444°N 0.126944°W / 51.519444; -0.126944

6,049,000 (2007–2008)[1]
5,569,981 (2009)[2]

The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects,[3] 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.[a]

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. Some objects in the collection, most notably the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon, are the objects of intense controversy and calls for restitution to their countries of origin.

Until 1997, when the British Library (previously centred on the Round Reading Room) moved to a new site, the British Museum was unique in that it housed both a national museum of antiquities and a national library in the same building. The museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and as with all other national museums in the United Kingdom it charges no admission fee.[4] Since 2002 the director of the museum has been Neil MacGregor.[5] Conservative Peer Lord Sainsbury has pledged to donate £25 million to the Museum to aid funding for a large scale extension, set to make it the world's largest museum by collection upon completion.

Like other publicly funded national museums in the United Kingdom, the British Museum does not levy an admission charge.

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