Founded in 1753, the British Museum holds in trust for the world a collection of art and antiquities from ancient and living cultures. Founded by an Act of Parliament, the British Museum was the first public museum in the world. From the beginning, its collections were made available to every citizen free of charge, to all "studious and curious" people regardless of rank or status.
The British Museum has always been a world museum, first through its far-reaching collections amassed during the Age of Enlightenment and more recently by reflecting a global heritage to its increasing number of international visitors. More than six million people visit it every year, including nearly one million from North America, making it one of the most popular museums in the world.
The American Friends of the British Museum’s mission is to raise awareness of the activities and collections of the British Museum among Americans in the U.S. and overseas in order to facilitate the achievement of the financial, custodial, and collecting goals of the Museum. Since its founding in 1989, American Friends of the British Museum has contributed over $40 million to support key programs and critical projects at the British Museum, including:
- The Queen Elizabeth II Great Court
- Special exhibitions
- Scholarly symposia
- Staff positions in the curatorial and education departments