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How Much Does It Cost to Visit the British Museum?

Book A Guided Walking Tour

The British Museum is free – mostly. This post is a guide to visiting the museum and explains which exhibits are free and which require a paid ticket.


WHAT CAN YOU SEE FOR FREE?

This section will go into detail about all of the exhibitions and galleries you can see for free at the British Museum. We have a separate post on the highlights of these galleries.

You won’t need to pay admission for any of these exhibits, but you can make a donation if you want to support the museum’s mission.

To visit the museum, it's best to book your free ticket in advance if you want to guarantee your entry.

Walk-up entry doesn't guarantee you will be admitted as the museum is currently limiting the number of visitors to allow for social distancing.

That will likely change at some date, but for now, it's best to book in advance.

 Book your free tickets here. Simply pick the date and time you'd like to visit. 

Note:

  • You can book up to a maximum of eight people.
  • Once you book your tickets, they will be emailed to you. You must show your ticket at the museum so either print it or be able to show it on a device.
  • Arrive at the time stated on your ticket, as the museum can't guarantee admission before or after your allotted time slot.

Permanent Galleries

Every permanent gallery at the British Museum is entirely free to visit.

This includes exhibition areas covering art, culture and other subjects from Africa, the Americas, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece/Rome, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

If you want to make sure the galleries of interest to you are open (they close periodically for maintenance) check here.

There are also a few areas dedicated to specific themes such as money, the enlightenment, life and death, notable collections from around the world and more.

These galleries are open daily from 10.00 - 17.00 (10 am - 5:00 pm with an extended closing on Fridays when it stays open until 20:30 (8:30 pm).

Learn about Late Fridays at this and other London museums from our post Things to do in London at Night.


The Great Court

This is the main court of the museum, and it is where you will find things like the information desk and the collections shop.

The Great Court also has a cafe that you can visit if you get thirsty or hungry during your visit to the museum.

Although there are restrooms in other areas of the building, this is probably the easiest place to find if you need to use a bathroom.

The Great Court is open daily from 10.00–17.00 (10 am - 5 pm) with extended closing on Friday nights at 20:30 (8:30 pm).


Free Limited Exhibitions/Displays

Some of the limited exhibits and displays offered at the British Museum are actually free for all visitors.

These attractions change from one year to the next, so it will be important to check what’s on at the British Museum for more details.

  • Greek Revival simplicity and splendour (until May 8)
  • Raphael and his school drawing connections (until May 15)
  • Drawing attention: emerging British artists (until August 28)
  • Printmaking in Prague art from the court of Rudolf II (until August 28)
  • Life in a cup coffee culture in the Islamic world (until Sept 18)

TEMPORARY EXHIBITS

Temporary exhibitions at the British Museum change every few months, so it’s best to check their website for the most up-to-date list of what’s on. These special exhibitions require tickets.

Stonehenge

If ever there was a historic structure synonymous with London, it's Stonehenge. This exhibit has new finds and well as other objects that are on loan for the first time!

You'll see stunning gold jewelry, the Nebra Sky Disc, the world's oldest surviving map of the stars and a well-preserved 4,000-year-old timber circle dubbed Seahenge.

An exhibit not to be missed. It runs until 17 July 2022.

Ticket Prices:

Monday - Friday

  • Adults £20/ Seniors (60+) £20/
  • Students and 16–18 years £18 (2-for-1 tickets on Fridays)/
  • Under 16 free when accompanied by an adult
  • Disabled visitors £18 (Assistant free, booking required)

Saturday and Sunday

  • Adults £22/ Seniors (60+) £22
  • Students and 16–18 years £20
  • Under 16 free when accompanied by an adult
  • Disabled visitors £20 (Assistant free, booking required)

Purchase tickets or learn more.


Feminine power: the divine to the demonic

Explore the role that goddesses, witches, and saints have played in forming our understanding of the world. You'll see sculptures, sacred objects and art from the ancient world to today. The exhibit runs until 25 Sep 2022.

Ticket Prices:

Monday - Friday

  • Adults £15/ Seniors (60+) £15
  • Students and 16–18 years £13 (2-for-1 tickets on Fridays)
  • Under 16 free when accompanied by an adult
  • Disabled visitors £13 (Assistant free, booking required)

Saturday and Sunday

  • Adults £17/ Seniors (60+) £17
  • Students and 16–18 years £15
  • Under 16 free when accompanied by an adult
  • Disabled visitors £15 (Assistant free, booking required)

FAMILY ACTIVITIES

In addition to all the fantastic artwork on display at the British Museum, there are also some pretty fun things to do with your family.

This section will cover the kid-friendly activities available at this museum.


Samsung Digital Discovery Centre

This area of the museum includes a lot of digital equipment provided by Samsung which breathes new life into the world’s history and cultures.

Visitors can enjoy fun games on tablets, get a full 360-degree digital view of notable historic artifacts, and use technology to create a variety of art.

Although each of these activities are free, some may require a passport, national ID or driver’s license as a deposit.

Learn more about the Samsung Digital Discovery Centre.


Daily Activities

The British Museum provides a number of fun activities for families that are available every day.

Parents who are looking for something fun to do with their kids might want to consider an activity trail, gallery backpacks, art materials (crayons, pencils, pads), or a family guide to the museum.

For more information about these activities, make sure to visit the Families Desk in the Great Court.

There are also special museum events aimed at families. Check the British Museum family event schedule for more details.


PUBLIC TOURS OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM

Below are the regular tours offered by the museum. We also offer our own tour on Fridays.


Daily Eye-Opener Tour

These tours run every 15 minutes between 11:00-15:45 (3:45 pm) from different areas of the museum.

The tours are completely free to follow, are held within one of the free galleries, and typically last 30-40 minutes each.

Currently, tours are limited to eight people, based on a first-come, first-served basis. Capacity will be increasing gradually over time. Find out more information here.

Because there are so many offered throughout the day these brief, faster tours are perfect to take if you’re short on time and keen on learning more about the artifacts in a specific room.

  • Cost: Free
  • Length of tour: 30-40 minutes
  • Time of tour: Several times, daily

Spotlight Tours

These tours take place every Friday evening as an accompaniment to the late night open hours. They last 20 minutes each and run on the hour and half hour between 17:00 and 19:00.

The topics change every Friday, but each focuses on a particular time period or theme. Click here for the weekly schedule of Spotlight Tours.

  • Cost: Free
  • Length of tour: 20 minutes
  • Time of tour: Friday evenings

Around the World in 70 Minutes

This is the only paid tour and you must book in advance. It's well worth it! This signature tour covers several highlights from each of the free galleries.

Learn about the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon frieze, and the Lewis Chessmen, amongst many other things. The tour aims to educate guests on important artifacts from various cultures around the world.  

  • Cost: £14 per person
  • Length of tour: 70 minutes
  • Tours take place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 11.30 and 14.00.
  • Each tour has a capacity of 8 people.
  • Recommended for adults and children aged 12+.
  • Book your place in advance online.

Desire, love, identity: an LGBTQ tour

This tour is an exploration of objects in the collection that are related to themes of desire, love and identity. Note that this unique tour frequently books up.

Currently, the tour schedule is every day 14.30–15.40 (2:30 pm-3:40 pm) from 29 Apr 2022 - 27 May 2022.

  • Each tour lasts for around 70 minutes.
  • Tours are free but booking is strongly recommended.
  • Each tour has a capacity of 8 people.
  • Recommended for adults and children aged 12+.
  • Check the website for dates and to book your post.

Out-of-hours tours

These volunteer-led tours take place before the museum is open to the public. Groups are currently limited to 12 people. This is a wonderful way to experience the highlights of the collection with the museum all to yourself!

Tours include introductions to British Museum, ancient Egypt, China, the ancient Greek world and Life and death in ancient Egypt.

Tours run daily from 08.50–10.00. You must book in advance.

Tickets:

  • £33 Adults
  • £30 Concessions: students, disabled visitors
  • £16.50 ages 5–15 years
  • Free for under 5s and disabled visitors' assistant (no booking required)
  • Book your tickets here.

Audio Guide

The British Museum also offers an audio app you can download onto your iPhone or Android to use at your own pace, even before or after your visit to the museum.

The audio app offers several self-guided tours with each exploring a theme such as Top Ten objects to ancient Egypt. Each themed tour is between £1.99 - £2.99.

The audio app covers 250 objects in the permanent galleries and is available in several different languages.

The app also features an interactive map of the museum, making it easy to navigate the many different galleries.

For a free audio tour alternative, check out the excellent Rick Steves audio guide.


DISCOUNTS

If you want to save money on the paid exhibits at the British Museum, there are a few different options to consider.

This section will provide details about each of the discounts available on special and limited exhibits.


2 For 1 Deal

This is one of the best ways to save money on limited exhibitions that require tickets at the British Museum.

The 2 for 1 program allows visitors who use National Rail to purchase two tickets for the price of one.

All you have to do is use the rail for transportation to the museum and you’ll be eligible for the discount.

Since tickets cost between £20-£22, that is what you can expect to save on admission using this method.

For more information, read our post covering the 2 for 1 deal in London.


National Art Pass

If you live in the UK, you might want to consider getting the National Art Pass for access to special limited exhibits.

Each of the paid exhibitions at the British Museum are included at a 50% discount with this museum pass.

The National Art Pass is valid for an entire year and is valid at more than 240 museums.

Prices start at £73 for adults, £45 for people under 30, £110 total for two adults at the same address and just £10 to add a child to your pass.


Become a Museum Member

Visitors who plan on going to the British Museum more than once over the course of a year may want to think about becoming a museum member. Prices start at £69 per year.

Membership is valid for an entire year, and it includes admission to all limited and special exhibits for free.

Members also receive access to exclusive lectures, tours, parties, and out-of-hours visits.


Come on a Discount Day

Every now and then, the British Museum will offer discounts on their paid exhibits, but only on specific dates and times.

If you want to take advantage of this deal, make sure to check what’s on at the British Museum for details about the attraction you want to see.


Use a Tourist Pass

Every now and then, some London tourist passes offer discounts on temporary exhibits at the British Museum.

These services allow you to pay one flat price for a variety of different activities. If you plan on going to a lot of popular attractions, this is a great way to save money.

You can also get skip-the-line privileges at some locations, making it both faster and easier to get inside.

For more details about this opportunity, make sure to read our post covering London tourist attraction passes.

About The Author

Margaret

An American simply by accident of birth, Margaret moved to London over 16 years ago and hasn’t looked back since! With a keen interest in History – and a BA degree to match – Margaret prides herself on her knowledge of the amazing city she calls home and she's been guiding here now for nearly a decade. Social history is her real expertise, with sound understanding of the day-to-day lives of Londoners over the past centuries.
Updated: May 5th, 2022
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