Visitors on the Colonnade of The British Museum, an engraving
Published in the Illustrated London News, June 1851
The Great Exhibition of 1851, centred on Crystal Palace in London, was the grand showcase of a nation in the middle of unparalleled technological and industrial progress. Visitor numbers to The British Museum had been rising during the nineteenth century, but the Great Exhibition nearby helped draw in a record two and a half million visitors. Despite the new, larger Museum entrance, completed in 1847, there were many queues.
The British Museum
featured in the Illustrated London
News for June 1851. This print, which
accompanied the article, shows the Museum's forecourt full
of visitors. The Museum was looking very grand. The front of the
building, designed by Sir Robert Smirke (1781-1867), was nearing
completion. A pedimental
Lion-headed public drinking fountains of white marble were added either side of the entrance doors in 1859. You can still see them today. They were designed by Sydney Smirke Junior, the son of Sydney Smirke who designed the Round Reading Room.
M. Caygill, The story of The British Museu (London, The British Museum Press, 1998)