From the outside the British Museum looks like an old building worthy of its stature, but today I was heading for the museum’s centre. To the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court. A wonder of what can be done with change and thought. For this is the largest covered square in Europe no less, 2 acres in size, must be seen with your own eyes to understand the scale I must say.
Of course, thousands and thousands of visitors queue and enjoy the British Museum itself. Started in 1753 as the first National Museum in the world. Antiquities from all times of British history circling around the great building. For open space respite and wonder it is very much worth heading into the Great Court and marvelling at the old, new, light and ambiance overall.
What is now the Great Court was previously the British Library, with the famous Reading Room. the space you now see being filled with bookshelves and more bookshelves requiring visitors to walk around. In 1997 the library moved to a new location at St Pancras, freeing up the square once again. Now then it was time for transformation of the space.
The Great Court was reopened officially in 2000 by Queen Elizabeth II. New and old architecture combining perfectly in my opinion. The sun shining through the glass roof onto the combination old walls and white refurbishment creates a scene you won’t forget.
Now then, that glass roof! There is over 6000 square metres of glazing with 3312 glass windowpanes. Because the roof is undulating and not flat, each pane had to be made unique for size. Wherever you stand in the Great Court it is very difficult not to keep looking up.
The reconstruction helped to enhance the facilities too. Up overlooking it is the Great Court cafe, plus it enabled extra gallery space and education facilities. Around the court are also 12 great pieces of sculpture from the collection of the British museum, like this one, the Lion of Knidos dated around 3rd Century BC.
I was only passing by and glad I called in again, it is a different experience each time. I am to make extra time to see and share the museum itself next time, well worth the visit, and free!