Sunday, 22 February 2015

Walks of the Week: The British Museum

Every Sunday we’ll pluck just one walk from the vast London Walks repertoire and put it centre stage.

You can check out the full schedule at

But if you only take one walking tour this week, why not make it…


2 pm on Saturdays from Holborn Tube main exit (the Kingsway exit)

The British Museum is the big one – the most important museum on the planet. It's an incomparably rich treasure-chest, brimming with things of world historical importance. The Rosetta Stone, the Egyptian antiquities and mummies, the Parthenon Sculptures, the Black Obelisk, the Enlightenment Gallery, 4,500-year-old "Ginger" (the "pre-dynastic" red head!), the Sutton Hoo treasure, the Portland Vase, Roman gold, Celtic gold, ivories and enamels, tiles and pottery, an astonishing display of instruments for measuring is civilisation, manifest. 

Here the past turns on its pivots to face the 21st century. The snag is that you can't see for looking.  Both because of the embarrassment of riches and the sheer size of the place (the building covers 13.5 acres – set off in the wrong direction and you have to walk three times too far). Indeed, how you see it is almost as important as what you see. "The best commentary on the revolution of Greek art and the quality of its achievement is...simply to come direct to the Elgin room from the Egyptian and Assyrian ones, as if into an explosion of life, even, as in the frieze, of gaiety." Which is by way of saying, to see these things with a great guide – well, you'll never be quite the same again. In short, the secret is to use your time at the British Museum well.

One of the unsung joys of the British Museum tour is the short walk to the Museum. It takes you through London's most intricately pretty, doll's-house-tiny street. And the British Museum itself – as a building, its exteriors – is stunning. And that gets briefly guided as well. It's a wonderful bit of added value. A bonus.

The British Museum Tour takes place every Saturday afternoon at 2 pm, every Monday afternoon at 2.15 pm, every Wednesday afternoon at 2 pm

The meeting point is just outside the main exit – the Kingsway exit – of Holborn Tube

Guided on Saturdays by Karen
Guided on Mondays by Tom or Chris or Hilary
Guided on Wednesday by Molly

Here's a film of Tom leading the tour…

A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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