British Museum Opens Online Access to Its Giant Collection

The British Museum (the main historical and archaeological museum in Great Britain) has opened access to more than half of the objects in its collection (4.5 million units), which can now be viewed on the Internet. Of these, 1.9 million images are available under the Creative Commons 4.0 license.

Virtual visitors now have the opportunity not only to view galleries, but also to use their content at their discretion for non-commercial purposes. About 280, 000 photographs are published for the first time. They can be zoomed in, moved, and panned to ensure that no detail is missed.

Among others, such unique artifacts as the Rosetta Stone and a battle helmet from the Sutton Hoo mound necropolis are already available for viewing. Other interesting exhibits include a once-lost painting by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a Bronze Age pendant and a sculpture from Easter Island (which, by the way, Easter Island residents want to regain).

The digital collection, of course, cannot completely replace the experience of a living acquaintance with valuable relics. But it does at least guarantee that many people can now experience much of the museum's repertoire without waiting for life to return to normal. Such a move, in the end, could help the gallery reach a much wider audience, not to mention real help to teachers and students in their research.