Secret Door in British Museum


The Enlightenment Gallery at The British Museum is just off The Great Court and is Room 1 on the museum map. This room was built between 1823 and 1827 to house The King’s Library – a royal collection of over 60,000 books belonging to King George III which were donated to the nation by his son King George IV.

The books were moved to The British Library in 1997 and the room was restored between 2000 and 2003.

The gallery’s full title is Enlightenment: Discovering the world in the eighteenth century and here you can see objects relating to The Enlightenment – an age of reason and learning that flourished across Europe and America from about 1680 to 1820.

The Enlightenment Gallery has a lot in one room although that one room is long at 300ft (91m). The objects are divided into seven sections that explore the seven major new disciplines of the age: Religion and Ritual, Trade and Discovery, the Birth of Archaeology, Art History, Classification, the Decipherment of Ancient Scripts, and Natural History.

All of that would be reason enough to visit but I want you to look for the ‘secret door’. If you enter from the Great Court, look diagonally across to your left to the ‘Hands On’ desk where there are often volunteers available to explain different objects that you can hold. And behind that desk, disguised within the long line of glass bookcases, is the ‘secret door’. I’d love to tell you this leads to a mystical place but it actually goes to an open-plan office and you may well see staff using this door to get to their workplace.

Once you’ve spotted the door, look on the other side of the gallery where there is a replica of the Rosetta Stone that you can also touch. This allows you get to get a much closer view of one of the museum highlights without the crowds always around the real thing over at the Egyptian Sculpture gallery (Room 4) on the opposite side of the Great Court.

According to the article in

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