The British Museum Archive is a unique record of the Museum’s activities since it was founded in 1753. Here, archivist Francesca Hillier reveals her 14 favourite items and the incredible stories they tell about the Museum, the history of the collection, and the people who worked here.
27 May 2021
Whether it’s your first visit or you’re seasoned regulars, there’s plenty for families to do at the Museum. We’ve rounded up everything on offer onsite as well as our top picks for at-home fun.
16 March 2021
The Queen’s Gambit is the Netflix drama that made the world chess mad. As it turns out, medieval Europe was ahead of the game by about eight hundred years with what later became the world’s most famous chess pieces, the Lewis Chessmen. Join us as we reveal the secrets of these most enigmatic players.
12 March 2021
We journey deep underground to the Museum’s X-ray lab with Scientist Dan O’Flynn to take a look at six objects, and learn what X-rays can reveal about them.
8 March 2021
For International Women’s Day 2021, we explore the stories of nine pioneering women, from archaeologists to printmakers.
24 February 2021
Hear from a range of women working at the Museum as they shed light on their specialisms, career trajectories and the inspirational power of Rachel Weisz.
28 January 2021
Netflix’s new film The Dig explores the extraordinary discovery of Sutton Hoo – an early 7th century AD ship burial found on the eve of the Second World War. Curator Sue Brunning looks at how the silver screen portrayal compares to the momentous historical excavation.
18 December 2020
Travel back in time to Persepolis, capital of the mighty Persian Achaemenid Empire. Sample Persian hospitality, get access to the awe-inspiring citadel and find out what to do when you’re there – and what not to do if you want to remain alive!
16 December 2020
Looking for an alternative Christmas dinner? Whip up a medieval feast with 11 recipes from the Middle Ages.
14 December 2020
Curator St John Simpson reveals what happened after he saw a rare plaque from ancient Iraq on an online auction site.
4 December 2020
To mark the Great Court’s 20th birthday, we’ve rounded up everything you ever wanted to know about this iconic space – from famous faces who have passed through to how many blue whales would make up the weight of the roof.
30 November 2020
Join us for a time-travelling trip back to Osaka, and visit the central Japanese city in the 19th century as we sample the best sushi in town, experience the wonders of Kabuki theatre and explore the city’s bustling markets.
26 November 2020
In this blog post, curator Jamie Fraser and scientist Caroline Cartwright run you through the archaeology and science involved in tracking down an ancient olive oil factory, and explain how the process of making modern olive oil would be familiar to people in the past.
10 November 2020
As technology advances and the world embraces change, centuries-old skills, practices and traditions can be pushed aside – sometimes disappearing altogether. Find out how skills and practices that are in danger of being lost are being preserved by the Museum and EMKP – the Endangered Material Knowledge Programme.
24 August 2020
As we prepare to reopen our doors, we’ve put together a rundown of 14 things not to miss when you visit the British Museum.
21 August 2020
Our new Collecting and empire trail explores, through 15 objects, the complex histories of how objects came to be in the Museum’s collection.
17 August 2020
As the Museum prepares to open its doors once again, staff and volunteers share the objects they’re most excited to see again.
14 August 2020
In celebration of Afternoon Tea week, food historian Tasha Marks explores the history of the much-loved afternoon treat.
23 July 2020
Chef Giorgio Locatelli recreated a Roman loaf from Herculaneum for our 2013 exhibition on the ancient town – watch the video and recreate the recipe for yourself in this blog.
23 July 2020
Journey back nearly 1,000 years and travel up the Nile to explore the medieval Nubian city of Kulubnarti – now in the north of modern-day Sudan.
17 July 2020
Travel back to the 6th century AD and to the capital city of the Ethiopian Empire of Aksum. From experiencing the breathtaking landscapes and remote churches of the nearby mountains, to exploring the magnificent monuments of the city, we take you through what not to miss. Plus learn how to greet the king, discover the delicacies to try, and find out what to take home as a souvenir of your trip.
14 July 2020
Senior Conservator, Monique Pullan, reflects on her trip to Tahiti to meet communities and exchange knowledge about an incredible Tahitian costume in the Museum’s collection.
10 July 2020
In this week’s Historical City Travel Guide, we journey to Elizabethan London. From the Tower of London to the theatres and bear pits of the south bank, we guide you through the things to see in England’s capital city, as well as providing some tips on what to buy, where to eat and the best inns in town.
9 July 2020
With the holidays fast approaching, food historian and writer Tasha Marks explores the fascinating history of a favourite summer-time treat.
18 June 2020
Bored with banana bread? Whip up a classical feast with nine recipes from ancient Greece and Rome.
12 June 2020
Travel back to the 13th century BC and to Thebes – one of ancient Egypt’s most important cities. Ramesses II is reigning pharaoh and Thebes is a bustling city with impressive monuments, flourishing trade, delicious food and lively festivals.
31 May 2020
Dreaming of a day out? Join us as we take you on a virtual whistle-stop tour of some London sights through the prints and drawings collections.
29 May 2020
In this week’s historical city travel guide, we journey back 2,500 years to Classical Athens. From getting your culture fix at festivals and plays, to indulging in drinking parties, shopping and the local delicacies, we run through what not to miss in Greece’s most famous ancient city.
22 May 2020
We’re taking a trip back to early 19th-century Japan and visiting Edo – modern-day Tokyo – as curator Alfred Haft reveals the unmissable sights, the cuisine you’ve got to try and the best places to stay in this historical travel guide.
15 May 2020
In this week’s historical city travel guide, we journey back 2,000 years with curator Francesca Bologna to visit the capital of the Roman Empire. From witnessing edge-of-your-seat chariot races, to relaxing in the baths and sampling the local delicacies, we explore what not to miss in the vibrant world of 1st century AD Rome.
7 May 2020
Journey back over 2,600 years with curator Gareth Brereton as we visit the Assyrian capital city of Nineveh. Discover the sights, shopping destinations, entertainment and local delicacies not to be missed (and the areas to steer clear of).
5 May 2020
From Michelangelo to mirror caskets, our conservators continue the centenary celebrations for the Departments of Collection Care and Scientific Research by sharing the projects they’re working on.
29 April 2020
If you are looking for crafty things to do at home with the kids, try creating your own origami inspired by the Museum’s collection of Japanese prints. Based on the ancient art of Japanese paper folding, these designs and many more feature in Origami, Poems and Pictures, published by Nosy Crow, in collaboration with the British Museum.
27 April 2020
Janina Ramirez reveals four special objects that we couldn’t fit into our upcoming BBC Museums in Quarantine episode, and ponders how the events of 2020 might be remembered by historians of the future.
22 April 2020
Bonnie Greer OBE, playwright, critic and former Trustee of the British Museum, explores her own identity and the concept of the ‘Era of Reclamation’ through the story of three journeys taken at different points in her life. Looking at the present and future as well as the past, she considers why more than ever in this time of pandemic, reclamation and human connection matters to us, and the role of the Museum in understanding our shared history.
9 April 2020
We all need a little inspiration sometimes, especially while we’re stuck inside. We asked Museum staff to share their inspirational stories and powerful objects from the collection (and beyond) – we hope they inspire you too.
8 April 2020
Newly appointed Trustee Mary Beard introduces you to her top five objects in the collection, and reveals a moment in the Museum that started her journey to becoming Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge
27 March 2020
Whether it’s a virtual visit or a Curator’s corner, there are plenty of ways to keep exploring the British Museum online – here are our favourite ones.
9 March 2020
We’re all familiar with dust. We’ve seen it gathering on windowsills or on the tops of cupboards, but what exactly is it? And how do we keep the Museum dust-free? Our Conservation and Scientific Research teams zoom in on the microscopic world of dust, and explain how they work to help preserve the Museum’s collection.
12 February 2020
To kick off the centenary year of the Departments of Scientific Research and Collection Care, we look back on some of the Museum’s most exciting scientific discoveries of recent times.
8 January 2020
Bonnie Greer OBE, playwright, critic and former British Museum Trustee, explores her relationship with the Museum and what she calls the ‘Era of Reclamation’ – a time for conversations around ownership, not only of ourselves and our identities but of what we believe belongs to us.
21 August 2019
As the Museum launches free LGBTQ tours, Dan Vo explains why it’s so important for museums and galleries to explore these often underrepresented histories.
15 January 2019
Join us as we celebrate 260 years since the Museum first opened its doors on 15 January 1759. From cats to conservation, we’ve compiled the biggest and best numbers from the last two and a half centuries.
31 October 2018
Our curators have picked 10 of their frightening favourites from the Museum’s Prints and Drawings collection – from ghosts to ghouls, and a witches’ Sabbath to skeletons…
26 June 2018
A new audio commentary tour exploring LGBTQ histories in the Museum’s collection has just been launched. Head of Interpretation and Volunteers, Stuart Frost, highlights objects from the tour and looks at stories that, until recently, have been overlooked or underrepresented in museums and galleries.
13 June 2018
To conclude our Pleasant vices series, Tasha Marks explores our complex relationship with sugar.
25 May 2018
As part of the Pleasant vices series, food historian Tasha Marks invited brewers Michaela Charles and Susan Boyle to help her recreate a 5,000-year-old beer.
18 May 2018
Food historian Tasha Marks explores the chocolate heyday of London and recreates Sir Hans Sloane’s hot chocolate recipe as part of our Pleasant vices series.
11 May 2018
As part of our series on ‘pleasant vices’, food historian Tasha Marks shares her top 5 aphrodisiacs from the British Museum’s collection.
5 April 2018
From the ancient Egyptians to the Sámi people of northern Europe, music has been an integral part of societies around the world. To celebrate the Museum’s first major musical festival this April, here are 15 extraordinary instruments from history that hit just the right note!
4 April 2018
The world’s oldest bridge, located in the south of Iraq, is soon to be to be saved for future generations thanks to the Museum’s pioneering emergency heritage management project.
28 March 2018
In the latest in our series on the Museum’s history, Archivist Francesca Hillier takes a look at the iconic Round Reading Room at the centre of the Bloomsbury building.
2 March 2018
Curator Sushma Jansari explains Holi, and highlights some of the remarkable paintings in the Museum’s collection depicting aspects of this Hindu festival.
23 February 2018
Ben Alsop, Curator of the Citi Money Gallery at the British Museum, looks at objects in the collection relating to the female suffrage movement.
22 February 2018
Tavian Hunter explores the Museum’s Asia collection to uncover six examples of black presence and connections within Asian works of art.
13 February 2018
For Valentine’s Day, we’ve compiled 14 sensational smooches and other symbols of love from around the world. Pucker up…
6 February 2018
Author and historian Diane Atkinson reveals some of the stories of the women who fought for the vote, and how the British Museum became a target for their efforts.
29 December 2017
We mark time in many different ways. One unit – the month – has been in use for thousands of years. We use their names all the time, but what do the months’ names mean and where do they come from? Take a closer look…
21 December 2017
Curator Ilona Regulski reveals how a British Museum research project is using new ways to connect people in Egypt with their incredible past.
18 December 2017
From pediments to capitals, we take a look at some of the key features of ancient Greek architecture and how it has inspired our own building in Bloomsbury
7 December 2017
From Boudicca to the Amazons, historian, author and broadcaster Bettany Hughes uncovers the truth behind some of the most famous warrior women in history.
7 November 2017
When the Museum’s World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre was built, it meant that many objects could be moved from off-site stores to the Bloomsbury site. Assistant Storage Manager Jolyon Drew explains this intricate process.
3 November 2017
The written word is central to the Baha’i Faith, the youngest of the world religions, whose Prophet-Founder Bahá’u’lláh was born 200 years ago. Hilary Freeman of the UK National Baha’i Archives Team tells the story behind some of the original writings of Bahá’u’lláh, currently on display in the Museum.
26 October 2017
Jennifer Wexler and Neil Wilkin trace the roots of supernatural stories told today by studying two unique objects from a misty period of our ancient past.
24 October 2017
Alex Oma-Pius is Artistic Director of IROKO Theatre Company, who are regular performers at the Museum. For Black History Month, he tells the stories of some of the highlight objects he’s encountered in the Sainsbury African Galleries.
19 October 2017
It’s never too early to start learning about history! Melany Rose and Jane Batty talk about how the Museum is engaging kids (and their families) with some of our special exhibitions.
9 October 2017
Playwright, producer and director Patricia Cumper is also a British Museum Trustee. Here, she looks at what Black History Month has meant to her, and how the British Museum can help to tell these stories to the world.
22 September 2017
Find out what a dental anthropologist does all day, and how tooth decay can lead to exciting new discoveries.
11 September 2017
Senior Curator Judith Swaddling uncovers the ancient Greek origins of the long-distance endurance race, revealing the original ‘marathon runner’.
30 August 2017
Millions of Muslims make the journey to Mecca each year. Here are a few of the key things you should know about this incredible pilgrimage.
19 August 2017
Photography is not even 200 years old, and yet has changed the way we think about the world. Archivist Francesca Hillier and Senior Photographer Kevin Lovelock reveal the intriguing history of photography at the British Museum.
21 July 2017
Curator St John Simpson explores how the Museum’s collection of postcards from the port city of Aden in Yemen capture snapshots of social history.
19 July 2017
The Museum’s objects from Egypt span from prehistory to the present. In 2016 the modern Egypt project was launched to bring the collection into the 21st century. Objects from housewares and everyday items to ephemera and photographs can tell stories about historical, economic and cultural developments in Egypt over the past century.
3 July 2017
Assistant Collections Manager George Benson talks about hoisting the Rainbow Flag over the British Museum for Pride, and why its importance isn’t just restricted to LGBTQ people.
27 June 2017
In an age when talking about ‘the birds and the bees’ doesn’t cut it anymore, Education Manager Melany Rose explains an important new offering at the Museum for schools.
23 June 2017
Museum Archivist Francesca Hillier takes us through the fascinating history of the first building to house the British Museum’s collection, Montagu House.
22 June 2017
Head of Interpretation Stuart Frost explains how his team collaborates with colleagues across the organisation to help develop new permanent exhibits and temporary special exhibitions.
20 June 2017
Artist Bern O’Donoghue explains the moving story behind her work Dead Reckoning ahead of its installation in the Museum as part of Refugee Week 2017.
24 May 2017
Did you know that the Museum has a conservation studio just for East Asian paintings? The Hirayama Studio opened in 1994 and continues to use traditional techniques to preserve, protect and display these amazing works. Here, student Matthias Sotiras writes about his five months spent in this unique work environment.
3 May 2017
We’re celebrating two decades of the Portable Antiquities Scheme – the organisation recording archaeological finds in England and Wales – with our new Treasure 20 campaign. Treasure Registrar Ian Richardson introduces the project and outlines how you can vote for your favourite dazzling discovery from the last 20 years!
18 April 2017
Museum Archivist Francesca Hillier explains how the collection got too big for one institution, and why you won’t find dinosaurs in Bloomsbury.
24 March 2017
Inspiration for Indiana Jones? No, not our curator Jago Cooper, but Colonel Percy Fawcett, whose incredible true story is now told through a new film, The Lost City of Z. Curators Jago Cooper and Kate Jarvis take a look at some of the objects associated with his expeditions to the Amazon.
15 March 2017
How do you capture the ancient resonances of phrases that mean nothing to modern audiences? How do you invest them with meaning and emotion without a set of explanatory footnotes that kill all spontaneity? Oxford University professor Richard Bruce Parkinson worked with actress and writer Barbara Ewing to record a dramatic reading of one of the finest works of Egyptian poetry The Tale of Sinuhe.
8 March 2017
Did you know that the word ‘museum’ literally means a temple to the muses, all of whom were female (albeit allegorical)? This International Women’s Day, take a look at some of the very real women represented in the Museum’s collection today. Your guides are some of the many women curators who are continuing to tell these important stories to the world.
2 March 2017
For World Book Day, we’re celebrating all things literary. From some of the earliest writing from 5,000 years ago to our favourite fiction, discover the different ways people around the world have shared ideas through books in their many forms!
14 February 2017
The Beatles sang ‘All you need is love’. Curator Lloyd de Beer isn’t convinced. There’s also room for lust and sex, apparently…
31 January 2017
Kyoko Kusunoki joined the Hirayama Studio last year as Conservator of Japanese Paintings. In this blog Kyoko discusses some of the projects she has been working on, including preparing for the exhibition Hokusai: beyond the Great Wave.
28 January 2017
Happy New Year! Today millions of people across the world are gathering with family and celebrate the Lunar New Year. Here’s a handy guide to how this is celebrated in China – from the origins of the Chinese zodiac to the traditions and superstitions surrounding the festivities.
26 January 2017
As the year of the rooster approaches, the Chinese scroll mounters in the Hirayama Studio have plenty to crow about…
14 January 2017
You may think you know the British Museum, but there’s always more to discover. Here, we highlight a few secrets to delight and surprise even the most enthusiastic Museum fan. Never afraid to jump on a bandwagon, we’ve compiled a handy listicle of some of the weird and wonderful facts that make the British Museum unique. Maybe you knew it all already? If you did, you probably work here already…
23 August 2016
Nick Harris, Digital Creative Producer chats with Curator of Modern Money, Tom Hockenhull, and Museum Historian, Marjorie Caygill, about how the Museum dealt with the threat from German bombers during the Blitz.
22 October 2015
Pairing drawings of BA Fine Art students from Central Saint Martins with the works that inspired them during their visit to the Prints and Drawings Study Room Wayfinding explores drawing as a tool that artists, both emerging and established, use to find their way.
27 August 2015
Amelia Dowler discusses the mystery of the Fetter Lane hoard, and how coins minted in Alexandria, Egypt between AD 58 and AD 284 ended up in Roman Britannia.
8 December 2014
Carole Weiss and Jin Xian Qiu reveal the work that took place behind the scenes in the Hirayama Studio to prepare a Ming dynasty silk painting by artist Zhu Bang to go on display.
5 December 2014
To celebrate the 250th anniversary of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, the British Museum loaned the sculpture of the river-god Ilissos from the West pediment of the Parthenon. Neil MacGregor, Director of The British Museum shares some of the history of the long standing friendship between the first great museums of the European Enlightenment.
19 November 2014
Computer 3D technology is being increasingly adopted in museums to aid with conservation, curatorial research and interpretation. Here Matthew Cock explains how scans of the British Museum’s collection of Assyrian reliefs take by a team CyArk provide a fantastic resource that we can use to help people better understand and engage with these objects.
6 November 2014
Clarissa von Spee explains the significance of German expressionist sculptor Ernst Barlach’s most important work, Der Schwebende (The Hovering), and how the work managed to survive the First World War. On display as part of the exhibition Germany: memories of a nation, 16 October 2014 to 25 January 2015.
31 July 2014
Colourful beads for collars and wigs or earrings? Anna Hodgkinson has been updating over 200 of the Collections online record of items of glass jewellery from the New Kingdom in the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan.
26 June 2014
Due to the nature of human remains from ancient Egypt and Nubia, evidence for tattooing is scarce. However in the Ancient lives, new discoveries exhibition, one of the mummies on display is so well preserved the British Museum has located a tattoo and other marks on her skin. Marie Vandenbeusch discusses the significance of this discovery.
2 June 2014
Amandine Mérat and Emily Taylor have been working on reordering the Museum’s Egyptian textiles collection not by provenance or date but by technique. By conducting a close visual examination of technique, and drawing on knowledge of their cultural background, they hope to determine the possible original function of many of the textiles.
4 April 2014
Martin Findell is a Research Associate at the University of Leicester. He is particularly interested in the problems of understanding the relationship between spelling and sound change in the early Germanic languages, and in the uses and abuses of runes in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In this blog Martin discusses some of the runic writing on display in Vikings: life and legend.
17 March 2014
Cancer is one of the world’s most common causes of death today, but there is little evidence from before industrialisation: almost nothing is known about the history of the disease in the past. Michaela Binder and Neal Spencer discuss illuminating new evidence of early human cancer.
7 February 2014
In May 2013 a team of scientists led by the British Museum, Natural History Museum and Queen Mary University of London discovered a series of footprints left by early humans in ancient estuary mud over 800,000 years ago at Happisburgh, Norfolk. Nicholas Ashton, Curator of Palaeolithic and Mesolithic collections at the British Museum has been working on the Happisburgh Palaeolithic excavations.
30 July 2013
In the next blog by Sally Grainger, chef and author of The Classical Cookbook, Sally experiments with cooking in replica of a clibanus oven.
9 July 2013
Jago Cooper has just returned from an exploratory research visit to the uninhabited national park on the island of Mona in Puerto Rico. In this blog, Jago details his findings which were rather unexpected.
13 December 2012
Researcher Michaela Binder reflects on four months of analysis on skeletons from the ancient Egyptian town of Amara West, and what this new research can tell us about how they lived.
16 November 2012
This year, British Museum curators have collaborated with scientists and medical experts to perform a CT scan of a naturally-preserved mummy know as the Gebelein Man. Detailed images created from the scans’ high resolution X-rays allow us to look inside his body and learn about his life – and death – in ways never before possible. Daniel Antoine tells us what we have been able to discover about the Gebelein Man.
10 January 2012
The Hallaton helmet was shown in public today for the first time since it was buried 2,000 years ago. JD Hill reveals to us the significance of this discovery and the work behind the scenes that has led up to its display.
17 August 2011
With Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman opening in two months, the British Museum has asked contributors from the craft world to share their thoughts on the importance of craft today. First up is Teleri Lloyd-Jones is Assistant Editor of Crafts Magazine. Crafts is an editorially independent bi-monthly magazine published by the Crafts Council, the national development agency for contemporary craft in the UK.