The British Museum was the first ever National museum, open and free to all visitors.
Following the death of Sir Hans Sloane who had bequeathed his collection to the nation in 1753, it opened its doors for the first time in 1759. Much expansion took place in the 19th and 20th centuries, both in terms of acquisitions and extra buildings in which to display them.
As a centre of academic research and through involvement in excavations overseas, the British Museum has greatly increased knowledge and understanding of the world's civilisations. One of its most famous exhibits is The Rosetta Stone which helped unlock the language of hieroglyphs.
The museum attracts almost 6 million visitors a year.
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