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Britain's national museum of archaeology and antiquities, established in London in 1753 when the government purchased three large private collections consisting of books, manuscripts, prints, drawings, paintings, medals, coins, seals, cameos, and natural curiosities. In 1881 the natural-history collections were transferred to another building to form the Natural History Museum, and in 1973 the library collections were consolidated to form the British Library. Among the museum's most famous holdings are the Elgin Marbles, the Rosetta Stone, the Portland Vase, and Chinese ceramics. In 1808 the department of prints and drawings opened with over 2,000 drawings. It is now one of the world's largest and most comprehensive collections.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on British Museum, visit Britannica.com.
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