This post was most recently updated on October 30th, 2017
The British Parliament established the British Museum in 1753 and it opened to the public in 1759. At first, it focused on the scientist Sir Hans Sloane’s 71,000 object collection. This included books, natural specimens, and antiquities like coins and medals.
In the nineteenth century, the museum continued to expand and grow. It gained its most famous acquisition, the Rosetta Stone, in 1802. Around that time, the Parthenon sculptures were also added to the collection. Soon, the number of artefacts grew too big for the small space, and the museum began to expand. In 1823, the quadrangle building was constructed – it still houses the museum today. The Reading Room was built in 1857 as the museum started to focus increasingly on education. More public lectures were provided and the displays improved.