Poster advertising the sale of building materials

London, England, AD 1842

Selling off the old British Museum

Between 1823 and 1852 the new British Museum building designed by Sir Robert Smirke gradually replaced Montagu House, the Museum's first home, which was demolished. To raise extra money all reusable building materials salvaged from the old house were sold at auction.

In 1842 the construction of the new South Wing (the new front of the Museum) began. It was built in two stages so that the Museum could stay open to the public. The first stage included the new Entrance Hall and Grand Staircase built on a site of the back of Montagu House. By the end of 1845 the front section of Montagu House had been demolished as well. The second stage began, including the construction of the magnificent neo-classical colonnade we see today.

This poster advertises the sale of building materials in 1842. From the list if items for sale we can imagine how grand the old building must have been. More fragments of the old house were discovered during recent construction work for the Great Court at the centre of the Museum and on the forecourt.

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More information


M. Caygill and C. Date, Building the British Museum (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)


Height: 560.000 mm
Width: 450.000 mm

Museum number

Archives CE115/3/337


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