The British Museum holds in trust for the nation and the world a collection of art and antiquities from ancient and living cultures. Housed in one of Britain's architectural landmarks, the collection is one of the finest in existence, spanning two million years of human history. Access to the collections is free.
The British Museum was founded in 1753 to promote universal understanding through the arts, natural history and science in a public museum. Since its foundation, the British Museum has been guided by three important principles: that the collections are held in perpetuity in their entirety; that they are widely available to all who seek to enjoy and learn from them and that they are curated by full-time specialists.
The British Museum's international standing and its key role in the display of the world's and nation's heritage make it one of the most-visited public buildings in London, contributing to its cultural and economic life. London's largest covered public square, the Great Court has changed the face of Bloomsbury as a cultural quarter.
As a social enterprise the British Museum has exceptional reach. It creates a context in which cultures can be seen, experienced and studied in depth or compared and contrasted across time and space to inspire and delight over five million visitors a year. Through its public, curatorial, exhibition and education programmes the Museum engages with the public to advance understanding of the collections and cultures they represent.