The Brits Have Many Things

June 26, 2011 at 5:36 pm 5 comments

I went to the British Museum on my trip in 2007, and it was so massive and fascinating that I knew that I definitely wanted to go back on this trip. Since we started our Monday with orientation at London Met University, just two stops away on the Piccadilly line, Monday afternoon was the day for my British Museum sequel visit.

I really wanted to see the Reading Room, since it was closed in ’07 for a special exhibition. Well, it’s still closed for a special exhibition. The guy at the info desk suggested that I come back in 2014, since it’s booked until then. Splendid! See you in three years.

Dustin, one of the guys in my group, was up for the visit with me, so I took him to some of the most important “super old stuff.” If you turn left off the Great Court, you’re whisked back in time a couple thousand years. The Brits have a startling collection of artifacts from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, including the Rosetta Stone, a huge statue of Rameses II, a lovely Athena, and the Nereid Monument:

Nereid Monument
I’m still not sure how this entire monument ended up at the British Museum, or why some expeditioner decided to dismantle the entire thing and re-assemble it in Bloomsbury, London, but there it is!

Parthenon Pieces
Of course, one of the biggest “why do the Brits have this?” is the Parthenon room. You can Google it if you’re curious, but I believe that the general story is that while the Turks were in control of Greece, they stored gunpowder in the Parthenon. Then the Venetians blew it up, and the Parthenon and many of its sculptures were damaged or destroyed. In the early 19th century, Lord Elgin of England boxed up quite a lot of the sculptures that were left and took them back to England. He apparently did this with the permission of the Turks in power. After a few years, he sold the sculptures to the British Museum, which is where they have been for almost 200 years.

Well, the Greeks began restoring the Parthenon in the 1970s and would really like the Elgin marbles back. The Brits weren’t the only folks who took Parthenon pieces, but they have the largest collection outside of Greece. The Greeks have been trying to get the British Museum to relinquish the Parthenon pieces for about 30 years, but to no avail as of yet.

Enlightenment Room
The original Reading Room may have been exhibition-ized, but the Enlightenment Room was a good substitute! I love how the whole room smelled of old books. Old books have the most marvellous smell.

I tried to borrow a collection of original Victor Hugo volumes, but for some reason, they weren’t down with lending them out.

The museum is a giant labyrinth, and we just started walking. I like Asian art, which is how we ended up being greeted by this guy:
Happy Buddha

Great Court
Sometime after the mummies, the skeletons, the Australian doodle prints, and the Sutton Hoo, I announced that if I didn’t get food soon, I was going to eat the next artifact that looked edible. So I took one last shot of the Great Court from the upper floor balcony (that’s the Reading Room in the centre), and we were off.

Outside, it was a mostly-nice day in Bloomsbury.

Socialist Bookstore Sidewalk Sale
We stopped to check out the sidewalk sale at a Socialist Bookstore down the street from the museum. Titles were amusing, some super random. Quite a few were in Russian, which seemed normal, but then there was an ’80s glossary of computing terms with an inscription in the front to its recipient: “Happy DOSsing!”

Dustin reads about Avril Lavigne
And then Dustin found an Avril Lavigne biography. I didn’t realize that she was such a known socialist.

We lunched at Pret, then headed back to the B&B. Dustin had a theatre ticket for that night, and I wanted to get started on homework. I also wanted a nap, of course. Post-nap, I went over to Paddington Station, where I got a cup of gazpacho from EAT. I was so excited for gazpacho, but theirs was chunky and tasted mostly like cold Prego. Too bad, because everything else I’ve had from them has been great! But at least I made up for the gazpacho mishap with a pistachio macaron from Paul. Their macarons are giant-sized (and therefore more expensive), so I’ve shown excellent restraint by not having one every day. I think I’ll have to get one more before I leave, though. I feel like I have years of pistachio to make up for, as I only just realized that I like pistachio in April.


Entry filed under: England, Europe, London, Photos, United Kingdom.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jack Hoyt  |  June 26, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Which do you like better, Coconut, Pistachio, or Almond Paste?

  • 2. Justine  |  June 26, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    I looove the 6th picture.

  • 3. Christina @ Food.Fitness.Fun.  |  June 26, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Looks like a great day! I hope you smuggled some artifacts back for me 😉

  • 4. Jules  |  June 26, 2011 at 10:47 pm


    I must go.

  • 5. Jeanna  |  June 27, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    I wish that we’d had more time in the British museum while I was over there. Unfortunately we only had about a day and a half in London which sucked. I got to see no bookstores which broke my heart.

    Did love the Enlightenment room though!


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