Some important dates in the history of The British Museum.
On 7 June, King George II gave his assent to the British Museum Act for the purchase of the collections of Sir Hans Sloane and the Harleian collection of manuscripts. To this was added the library of Sir Robert Cotton, which had formed the nucleus of the Museum.
The Royal Library, founded by Edward IV in 1471, was given to the Museum by King George II.
The British Museum was opened to the public (in Monatagu House, Bloomsbury); admission was by ticket only.
A number of antiquities from Egypt, including the Rosetta Stone, were presented to the Museum by George III, following the defeat of Napoleon and the subsequent Treaty of Alexandria in 1801.
Opening of the Townley Gallery.
The sculptures from the Parthenon, which had been acquired by Lord Elgin, were presented to the Museum, having been bought for the nation for £35,000.
The Trustees agreed to accept the library of King George III which was donated by George IV. A new building for the Museum became essential as Montagu House was already in a decaying condition. Robert Smirke was assigned the task, as one of the three attached architects to the Office of Works, to design the new building. Work started in the same year and the project took 30 years to complete.
The King George III library was transferred to the Museum.
Montagu House was demolished.
The new entrance hall was opened.
Montagu House Gatehouse and wall were replaced by railings and a wall along Great Russell Street.
The Natural History section was transferred to new premises at South Kensington.
The foundation stone of the King Edward VII galleries was laid by the King. The galleries took six years to complete and were opened in 1914 by King George V.
The Museum suffered no serious damage in the First World War: a piece of shrapnel entered the Iron Library and ripped the backs off two books. Some of the most valuable objects were stored in the newly completed Postal Tube Railway and later in the National Libray of Wales. Objects too heavy to move were sandbagged.
The building of the Duveen Gallery was completed, but the outbreak of war delayed the installation of the Parthenon Sculptures. The architect was John Russell Pope who had designed the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The Duveen gallery was hit by a small bomb in 1940, causing a fair amount of damage to the interior.
The Second World War. All objects of first importance that could be transported were sent ot of London or stored in an unused stretch of the London Underground. The heavier sculptures were placed in the basement or left in situ, protected by sandbags and blast walls.
A cluster of incendiary bombs fell on the Museum on the night of 10 May, causing serious fires and over 250,000 books were lost. The Museum was closed until 24 April 1946, although a skeleton service was provided for readers in the North Library.
The restored Duveen Gallery was opened to the public.
A revised British Museum Act was passed under which the Natural History Museum became completely independent with its own body of Trustees.
The department of Ethnography was transferred to Burlington Gardens, Piccadilly. The building, formerly the Civil Service Commission and built for the University of London, was named the Museum of Mankind.
The Museum exhibited 'Treasures of Tutankhamun' on loan from Egypt and received 1,694,117 visitors, the largest attendance ever at a temporary exhibition.
The former British Museum Library departments were vested under the separate authority of the British Library Board to form part of the British Library Reference Division.
The New Wing (built 1973-78) designed by Colin St John Wilson, an extension to house offices, restaurant and an exhibition gallery was formally opened by the Secretary of State for the Environment.
A new suite of galleries, funded by the Wolfson Foundation, was opened to display the Townley Collection.
Three exhibition rooms, constructed in top of the King Edward VII building, were completed to house temporary Japanese exhibitions. Most of the money for the project was raised in Japan.
Opening of a new Mexican gallery, which heralded the eventual return to Bloomsbury of all ethnographical collections held at the Museum of Mankind. In the same year...