Founded in 1753, the British Museum was the first national public museum in the world. From its earliest days it freely opened its doors to all “studious and curious persons”. Now, five million visitors pass through each year, many of them specifically travelling to London for the museum and other famous sights from all corners of the globe.
Studying at a university located just a few hundred metres north, the museum became a place I frequented often. However, rather than exploring its exhibitions I used it as a shortcut for shops and cafés on the other side. The first photograph depicts what I (and perhaps most of us) expected when I initially entered the world of the museum. The rest – following my passage from the north entrance through to the Great Court to the gates south, with only an occasional detour to other rooms or levels – are what I actually found when the British Museum unfolded itself in front of me as a much more layered space: not one only of ancient exhibits, curious spectators and hushed whispers, but rather a place freely given to its visitors – to explore, to play, to rest, to read, to eat, to talk, to linger.