Enlightenment (Room 1)

Discovering the world in the 18th century

Eye-opener gallery tour / Free / Daily, 12.30 (for 30–40 minutes)
Enlightenment Spotlight tour / Free / Fridays 18.30 and 19.00 (20 minutes)
Rosetta Stone Spotlight tour / Free / Fridays 17.00 and 17.30 (20 minutes)

The Enlightenment was an age of reason and learning that flourished across Europe and America from about 1680 to 1820. This rich and diverse permanent exhibition uses thousands of objects to demonstrate how people in Britain understood their world during this period. It is housed in the King’s Library, the former home of the library of King George III.

MA course in 18th century studies with King's College London 

Accessing Enlightenment: a study guide 
(pdf 2mb)

Objects on display reveal the way in which collectors, antiquaries and travellers during this great age of discovery viewed and classified objects from the world around them.

The displays provide an introduction to the Museum and its collections, showing how our understanding of the world of nature and human achievement has changed over time.

The Enlightenment Gallery is divided into seven sections that explore the seven major new disciplines of the age: Religion and ritual, Trade and discovery, the birth of archaeology, Art history, Classification, the decipherment of ancient scripts and Natural history. It was opened in 2003 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the British Museum.

Themes in the Enlightenment Gallery

The gallery has seven sections exploring the seven major new disciplines of the age:

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