Celebrating the Centenary of the British Museum and the complete of its Greek revival facade
By BUTLER, Augustus , 1853

The British Museum.

British Isles London
  • Author: BUTLER, Augustus
  • Publication place: [London]
  • Publisher: Stannard & Dixon
  • Publication date: 1853
  • Physical description: Tinted lithograph, with contemporary hand-colour in full.
  • Dimensions: 320 by 480mm (12.5 by 19 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 18136


View of the then newly completed Greek revival facade of the British Museum from Great Russell Street. Designed by Sir Robert Smirke in 1823, and completed in 1852, using the latest technology: concrete floors, a cast-iron frame filled in with London stock brick, and Portland stone on the front layer of the building. In 1853, the quadrangle building won the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Gold Medal.

Founded in 1753, when an Act of Parliament created the “world’s first free, national, public museum”, its doors open to “all studious and curious persons” in 1759. As always, some public were more welcome than others, and visitors had to apply for tickets to see the museum’s collections during limited visiting hours, restricting entry to the well-connected, who were given personal tours of the collections by the museum’s Trustees and curators. Things relaxed a bit in the 1830s, when regulations changed and opening hours extended.


  1. BM 1880,1113.4426