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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


World Conservation
and Exhibitions Centre
Opening 2014

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A grant of £10m from the Heritage Lottery Fund will provide resources to enable the Museum to expand its innovative outreach and public engagement.

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Follow the build

WCEC timelapse - building begins

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Following planning approval in December 2009, demolition work began in the World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre site in April 2010. Activity in the site has continued to progress well and some key milestones have been achieved.

Piling to form the basement wall and foundations of the new building was completed in August 2011. Excavation of the basement levels commenced in Autumn 2011 enabling the construction of the levels below ground to begin. The next stage of work will be the formation of the superstructure which will commence in mid 2012. Building completion is scheduled for late 2013.

The Museum will remain open as usual throughout the building works. Measures are in place to control vibration and noise levels, and work has been done to ensure objects in the collection and people in the buildings next to the site are protected.

The Museum's artist in residence, Liam O’Connor, has been documenting the changing site. Find out more 


Watch the preparation and construction of the new Centre 



Archaeological discovery at the site of the World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre

Archaeologists discovered 17th-century features on site in 2010

During Summer 2010, an archaeological excavation of the site was undertaken revealing a number of seventeenth century finds, including a section of London’s Parliamentarian Civil War defence trench.

Ornamental garden features exposed the extent of urbanisation in the area during the late 18th and early 19th century.

Numerous domestic wears, garden walls, wells, planting and bedding paths were unearthed.


The north wall of the garden to Montagu House, a stately home constructed between 1675 and 1679, was revealed. Montagu House was sold to the Trustees of the British Museum in 1754 and opened its doors to the public as the Museum and Library in 1759.


The architects

Architect's impression of the exterior of the World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre

The new World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) is one of the world’s leading architectural practices. RSHP have won a number of awards including the prestigious Stirling Prize in 2006 for Barajas Airport in Madrid. The practice has offices in London, Sydney, Madrid and Shanghai.

RSHP have completed a number of high profile projects, including the Pompidou Centre in Paris, Lloyd’s of London, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and the National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff.



At a time of concern for the global environment, RSHP is a leading firm in sustainable architecture. The practice looks to technologies that harness passive energy sources, systems that reduce consumption and regulate harmful emissions, and renewable resources.

RSHP’s approach to environmental issues mirrors the Museum's ambition to reduce the environmental impact of its operations.