The British Museum was founded in 1753, the first national public museum in the world. When the doors opened to the public in 1759, each day about 75 people made their way round. In 2013, annual visits rose to 6.7 million. Through Khan Academy, you can explore world cultures through articles and videos about the British Museum’s collection and special exhibitions.
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The diverse cultural life of Africa has been expressed through everyday objects and unique works of art since ancient times. The Museum’s collection of over 200,000 African items encompasses archaeological and contemporary material from across the continent.

The Americas

The British Museum holds thousands of objects from the Americas. Discover the Nazca and Inca peoples, the ancient Mayan city of Yaxchilian and Aztec turquoise mosaics. The collection of The British Museum also explores the art of the Native inhabitants of Canada and the United States, while illustrating the effect of European contact and colonization on their communities.


The museum's collection of objects from Asia spans the Neolithic, from about 5000 B.C.E., to the present day. Represented societies and groups range from complex urban civilizations to largely rural communities; they also include the distinctive cultures and ways of life of indigenous people and other minority groups.


The museum's collection covers a vast expanse of time from the earliest times to the present day, including the history of Britain under Roman occupation.

The Middle East

The museum's collection covers the civilizations and cultures of the Middle East from the Neolithic period until the present. The Islamic collection includes archaeological assemblages from Iraq, Iran and Egypt as well as collections of inlaid metalwork from medieval Iran, Syria and Egypt and Iznik ceramics from Turkey.


The great expanse of the Pacific Ocean is inhabited space. Pacific islanders have always been skilled navigators and linguists. For many of these people the ocean is not so much a barrier as a known landscape, across which they travel constantly. Explore the British Museum's unparalleled collection of art and artifacts from the Pacific Islands that make up Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia.

Contemporary Sculptors at the British Museum

The British Museum has one of the world’s most celebrated and diverse collections of sculpture, dating from prehistory to the present day. Since its foundation in 1753, the Museum has consistently engaged with the contemporary world, both in its collecting and its displays.