Children explore the Egyptian sculptures

Human Remains: Collection and display

The human remains are managed in a way that protects the collection for the benefit of present and future generations.

Mindful of ethical obligations, the Museum ensures that the human remains held in its care are always treated and displayed with respect and dignity.


Held in a number of departments for display and research, over 6,000 human remains are in the care of the British Museum. 

The worldwide context of the collection provides an opportunity to look at how past societies have conceived of death and disposed of the remains of the dead across cultures of vastly different times and places. The study of the human remains in the collection also furthers our understanding of the past by advancing important research in fields such as archaeology, bioarchaeology and physical anthropology. Their analysis provides unique insights into past peoples and cultures.


A number of British Museum galleries and exhibitions include human remains in their displays, alongside explanatory and contextual information. 

The British Museum gives careful thought to the reasons for and the circumstances of the display of human remains. Surveys show most visitors are comfortable with, and expect to see, human remains as an element of Museum displays.