The British Museum’s mysterious domed Reading Room has officially reopened to the public

The British Museum is every history buff’s dream, but there’s likely still one part of the Bloomsbury museum that even its most avid fans are yet to see. After a long period of being off limits to the public, the famous domed Reading Room has reopened to both guided tours and the general public. 

Don’t remember the last time you picked up a book? Even for non-book-lovers, the Reading Room is truly a sight to behold. Powder blue papier-mâché covers the dome, with a gold and cream colour scheme framing the windows that encircle its perimeter. A whopping five million books line bookshelves that total 25 miles in length. 

The museum trialled tours last year, hoping to make them a regular event so long as they didn’t disturb the researchers who currently peruse the room’s archives.

As of yesterday (July 2), London guru IanVisits says that the room is open for anyone to walk in and have a look. What’s more is that from July 23, groups of visitors (up to 20 per slot) will be welcome to marvel at the beautiful space with 20-minute tours. Tickets will be first-come, first-served and the great part is that they’re free.

Completed in 1857, the British Museum’s Reading Room became a world-famous learning hub where only the cool kids of academia and literature were allowed to work on their craft. Karl Marx, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, and even Jacob Richter – Lenin’s chosen pseudonym – were among the VIPs.

Between 1997 and 2000, the dome had a touch-up and opened to the public for the first time. Since 2013, it’s been occasionally used as an exhibition space but otherwise stayed closed. 

So, now you can uncover the mystery of the Reading Room and see why the fathers of Marxism, Dracula and Sherlock Holmes opted out of working from home in favour of taking up pen and paper in a ‘masterpiece of mid-19th century technology’ inspired by the domed Pantheon in Rome. 

You can find out more about the Reading Room’s tours on the British Museum website here

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