The British Museum is one of the largest and most comprehensive museums in the world. Located in the Bloomsbury area of London, it attracts more than 5 million visitors each year, contains an estimated 8 million works and covers an area of 92,000 sq. m (990,000 sq. ft).
It was originally established in 1753, based on the collections of the scientist Sir Hans Sloane, and first opened to the public in January 1759. However, as the museum’s collection expanded, the museum underwent a great deal of redevelopment.
The core of the building was designed by the architect Sir Robert Smirke in 1823. It was designed as a quadrangle with four wings, in the Greek Revival style. The style had become increasingly popular since the late-18th century, when western Europeans had began to explore the sites of Ancient Greece.
Smirke designed 44 columns in the Ionic order, each 14 m (45 ft) high and based on the temple of Athena Polias at Priene. The pediment at the south entrance incorporates decorative sculptures depicting ‘The Progress of Civilisation’, consisting of 15 allegorical figures.
 Weston Hall
At the centre of the Great Court is the Reading Room, built in 1857 to a design by Sydney Smirke. The room was technically exemplary in its time, with a dome inspired by the Pantheon, and a diameter of approximately 42.6 m (140 ft).
 White Wing
The White Wing was designed by the architect Sir John Taylor and constructed in 1882-5. The wing was designed on the request of the late William White – with a monumental stepped entrance and an inscription above the doorway.
Designed by Sir John Burnet, the galleries were built 1907-1914. They draw on Roman rather than Greek design, with prominent imperialistic features such as a Royal coat of arms and sculptures on the entrance stonework.
The Duveen gallery was intended to house the Elgin Marbles, and was designed by John Russell Pope who also designed Washington’s National Gallery. It was completed in 1938 but was struck by a bomb during the Blitz of 1940 and remained in a state of partial-dereliction until being restored and opened in 1962.
However, in 1997, the library department was relocated to the British Library, and a competition launched to redesign the courtyard space, which had long been criticised for being congested and difficult to navigate.
The competition was won by architect Norman Foster, who transformed the courtyard into the largest covered public square in Europe, with its famous and celebrated steel-and-glass roof. The glazed canopy used state-of-the-art engineering by Buro Happold, with a unique geometry required to span the irregular gap between the Reading Room and the courtyard facades. In total it includes 3,312 unique panes of glass.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- British Museum World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre.
- British Museum WCEC
- Building of the week series.
- Dali Theatre and Museum.
- Dome of the Rock.
- Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao.
- Norman Foster.
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
- The Louvre.
- Titanic Museum.
- Sage Gateshead.
- British Museum - Official site
The IHBC seeks to raise awareness and understanding of how building conservation philosophy and practice contributes towards meeting the challenge of climate change.
From Amenity Societies and Wentworth Woodhouse to Kurt Schwitters, Scotland’s Towns, Chester and more...
The former Royal High School building in Edinburgh is to be transformed into a £55 million national centre for music after the City of Edinburgh Council agreed to the lease of the historic property.
The joint-institute document aims to help maintain cultural heritage by providing a consistent framework across different sectors & geographies
IHBC’s Gus Astley Student Awards 2021: Win £500 and a place on IHBC’s 2022 Aberdeen School with your built environment/heritage coursework, closes 31/07!
The last remaining buildings on the site of the Harris meat factory family’s historic mansion are being restored to their former glory and converted into new homes.
The Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum (CICV Forum) has unveiled a new guide to the crucial and increasingly complex issue of professional indemnity insurance (PII).
ICOMOS has advised that the new football stadium proposal, if implemented, would have a completely unacceptable major adverse impact its authenticity and integrity.
Responding to the changing working patterns of a post-Covid Scotland, the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) has revealed new plans to help retrofit public spaces into out-of-town alternatives to city centre offices.
The free-to-access online issue mixes the topical and practical to explore how the sector can best adapt to digital innovation.