Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The British Museum and Access - part 1

I am going to begin Access London's journey with information and a review of a current exhibition on at The British Museum: Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead (Journey Through the Afterlife).

The museum itself is located on Great Russell Street in London and is open daily from 10am to 5.30pm. The museum is fully accessible to wheelchair users. It can be accessed by its main entrance on Great Russell Street where there are 2 self operable lifts on either side of the stepped entrance (with the option to call for assistance) or else there is a level access entrance located on Montague Place. Once inside, the majority of the exhibitions and galleries are fully wheelchair accessible - there is also the option to borrow one of the wheelchairs that is owned by the museum. Assistance dogs are welcome inside the museum and there are fully accessible disabled toliets and the gallery's cafes can also be accessed easily. There is a limited amount of disbaled parking spaces (blue badge holders) availbled on the museum forecourt - these need to be booked in advance by phoning +44 (0)20 7323 8299.

For further details of the museum's facilties for disabled visitors, see the link at the bottom of this post.

I visited the museum and Book of the Dead exhibition two weeks ago and had a fabulous time. The museum describes the exhibition as: "Follow the ancient Egyptian's journey from death to the afterlife in this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition focussing on the Book of the Dead." It really does feel like a journey. The exhbition is housed in the old reading room in the centre of the museum and can be accessed using wheelchair lifts, operated by really helpful and friendly staff.

Once inside you follow the journey the ancient Egyptian's believed they would take to the afterlife - their preparations, death, their journey and their ultimate goal. Along the way there are numerous examples of the Book of the Dead, coffins, masks, offerings and plenty of oppulence and gold that you would expect to find surrounding the wealthier of the ancient Egyptians.

In order to preserve some of the artifacts, some rooms are quite dark when reading the explaining text on the walls, but all of the artifacts themselves can be clearly seen. I would definitely recommend this exhibition (which runs until March 2011) and a general visit to the museum itself which houses large permanent collections (including Eqygptian).

Although entrance to the museum itself (and its permanent collections) is free, there is a charge for its limited exhibitions. I would recommend booking ahead via the museum's online booking system that offers concessions to disbaled visitors and also offers a free carer's admission. When booking, you choose your desired time slot - this is a really popular exhibition and I would recommend going as early in the day as possible as it can get quite busy. As long as you take your time, it should be no problem navigating round in a wheelchair (or if like me, in a mobility scooter).

If you love history and want to see something different, this is definitely an exhibition for you!

The museums access page can be found at

Later this week Access London will feature a Q&A session with the museum's Disability and Equality Manager and also some video footage. Make sure you subscribe and follow to keep up to date with what's going on.

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