Queen Elizabeth's First Visit To The British Museum Was Very Different From Her Last

For better or for worse (worse being colonialism, for example), Great Britain has had vast cultural influence over the entire world for centuries. The saying, "the sun never sets on the British Empire," was accurate given the amount of overseas territory occupied by the British from the 18th to the 20th century. It was always daytime for at least some British-occupied land at any given point on the 24-hour clock (per World Atlas). The amount of information and artifacts in the museums throughout London show just how powerful Great Britain was and the city remains a hub for culture and history.

As a figurehead for the country, Queen Elizabeth II paid attention to Britain's legacy, including that of its museums. Some of these museums far predate her reign as queen. The British Museum opened to the public in 1759. Since then, it has grown to house archaeological artifacts from all over the world and collections from British diplomats or missionaries who brought items back from their visits to territories while these places were ruled by the British.

The Great Court is dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II first visited The British Museum before she was crowned as queen. When she was 11 years old in 1937, her grandmother, Queen Mary, took her and her sister Princess Margaret to the museum, according to the museum's blog. Surprisingly, there are no photos of this visit. In the 85 years since then, the museum has experienced a substantial amount of change. Some of these changes included the addition of her own gift of the Royal Music Library to the museum and the addition of the Joseph E. Hotung Gallery of Oriental Antiquities in 1992. The Queen Elizabeth II Great Court dedicated to her opened in 2000, which surrounds the Reading Room that was first built in 1857. Her last visit was in 2017 with Sir Joseph Hotung to see the refurbished Hotung Gallery.

Queen Elizabeth II first visited The British Museum as a young princess. But when she visited it for the last time, there was an entire space dedicated to her and she was visiting the museum as the longest-reigning monarch in Great Britain's history, a record which she achieved in 2015 when she surpassed Queen Victoria's reign of 63 years (per Historic Royal Palaces).