Inside the Great Court at the British Museum

Reopening

Free entry

Opening times from 27 August

Wednesday–Sunday: 10.00–15.00
Closed: Mondays, Tuesdays, 24–26 December

Advanced booking only from 12 August

We're delighted to announce that we'll be reopening to visitors on Thursday 27 August

  • Visitors will need to book a free timed ticket in advance, as there will be reduced numbers in the Museum to ensure visitors can keep a safe distance apart. 
  • Tickets will be available to book online on Wednesday 12 August.
  • The Museum will open 10.00–15.00 on the 27–28 August, moving to 10.00–17.00 from Saturday 29 August. 
  • A new easy-to-follow one-way route signposted around the Ground floor galleries will allow visitors to experience extraordinary objects from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and Assyria, before exploring Africa, Mexico, North America and the Enlightenment gallery. More galleries will reopen later in September.
  • The postponed special exhibitions Tantra: enlightenment to revolution and the Citi exhibition Arctic: culture and climate will reopen later in the autumn. 

A message from Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum

I am delighted to announce that the British Museum will reopen its doors in time for the summer Bank Holiday weekend. Visitors are our lifeblood, and we have missed them greatly. It will be wonderful to welcome them back and I do hope that local, London-wide and UK audiences will take this opportunity to discover, or rediscover, the Museum, exploring some of the most popular galleries in what will be a much quieter environment. And we are looking forward to welcoming back our international visitors as well in due course. 

The British Museum’s extraordinary collection is a unique place to learn about the shared and complex history of humankind, with its many achievements and challenges, conflicts and innovations. It demonstrates humanity’s ability to endure and create even in precarious times. It will inspire us as we embark on this new chapter in the story of the Museum, and the world.

Hartwig Fischer

Galleries

The majority of the Ground floor galleries will be available, allowing an intimate exploration of some of the Museum's most iconic highlights including the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon Sculptures, Hoa Hakananai'a, the Benin Bronzes, the Aztec double-headed serpent, the Akan Drum and the Discobolus. The tour will allow visitors to take in more than 9,000 objects.

The Museum is taking a phased approach to reopening to be sure we can accommodate visitors safely and securely. We will be keeping safety measures under review and adjusting as we learn how they work in practice and as government guidance evolves. We plan to reopen some of the Upper floor galleries from Monday 21 September.

Exhibitions

New dates are confirmed for the Museum's postponed spring exhibitions, Tantra: enlightenment to revolution and the Citi exhibition Arctic: culture and climate. Tantra will run from 24 September 2020 until 24 January 2021 and Arctic from 22 October 2020 until 21 February 2021. Both exhibitions will have extended runs to ensure more people can experience them while following social distancing guidelines. We have also been able to extend the display of Edmund de Waal's library of exile in Room 2, giving visitors a chance to see this thoughtful and reflective work before the books it includes are donated to the world-renowned library of the University of Mosul in Iraq.

Richard Lambert

Sir Richard Lambert

It is wonderful news that the Museum will start to reopen in August. The pandemic has of course had a huge impact on us all. We, like many others in the heritage and arts sector, face an extremely challenging financial situation. The Trustees would like to thank the government for the additional financial support that will help us and the sector to navigate this difficult period. And we just can’t wait to reopen our doors.

Richard Lambert, Chair of the Trustees

Celebrating reopening

Celebrating reopening

The Museum will have been closed for 163 days, the longest peacetime closure in our 261-year history. We have been working very hard behind the scenes to prepare for reopening. The collection – which numbers eight million objects – is housed in a splendid, yet complex, building and it has taken time to bring its historic infrastructure back into service. The collection itself is fragile and varied, with objects such as the Lewis Chess pieces or the Nimrud Ivories made of materials that are especially vulnerable to fluctuations in temperature or relative humidity. The presence of visitors plays an important part in keeping that humidity stable and we need to be careful as the objects reacclimatise during this first phase of reopening

British Museum Trustee and Turner Prize-winning artist, Grayson Perry, has agreed to lend his work, The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman, originally created for his British Museum exhibition of the same name in 2011. The Tomb is an elaborate, richly decorated cast-iron coffin-ship – a vessel weighted with the freight of Perry’s imagination and an eloquent testament to the countless unnamed skilled individuals, men and women, who have made the beautiful wonders of history found in the British Museum today. We hope to display the work in Room 17, next to the Nereid Monument from western Turkey, built around 390BC.

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