The distinctive roof of the British Museum and the surrounding area
© Vladimir Zakharov/Getty Image
A London landmark turns 260. A personal collection becomes an institution.
Irish physician Sir Hans Sloane sold his personal collection of antiquities and books to England in the early 18th century. Sloane’s items included many books, rare manuscripts, and artifacts from around the globe, so he wanted them preserved and exhibited in public. This led to the creation of the British Museum, the world’s first national public museum. It opened this day in 1759. The collection has gown and changed significantly since then, but one detail remains: Admission to this London attraction is still free.