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The British Museum

Great Britain

Great Britain

The British Museum is the largest and richest of its kind in the world. This Museum comprises the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography, and the National Library. It was built in the middle of the last century. The Museum is situated in London (in Bloomsbury district).
On one of the houses in Bloomsbury there is a plaque, which tells people that for nearly 50 years this was the home of Sir Hans Sloane, the benefactor of the British Museum.
Sir Hans Sloane was an Irishman. He arrived in London nearly 300 years ago with 800 species of plants collected in West India. His particular specialities were natural history specimens and books. All his long life Sir Hans Sloane remained a collector. In his will he offered his vast collection to the people of Britain. Later on the Government bought his collection. Two important libraries were added to the collection of natural history specimens and books.
At first, his collections were on view to the public in a large house not far from the present museum.
The present building was built in 1852.

By law a copy of every book, periodical or newspaper published in Britain must be preserved in the British Museum. All printed matter is kept in a separate building in another part of London.
The British Museum is closely connected with the name of an Italian, Anthony Panizzi. Being a lawyer, he occupied the position of principal librarian at the British Museum. He also designed the plans for the construction of the famous circular Reading Room at the British Museum. Visitors to the Museum who want to enter the Reading Room, must have a ticket of admission. Only people over the age of 2 1, engaged in serious study and who can’t obtain the books they require elsewhere, can use the Reading Room.
The Reading Room has an unusual shape. It is a perfect circle. The superintendent and his assistants sit in the centre of the room and issue and collect books. The catalogues are kept behind them. Any person who comes into the Reading Room is greatly impressed by the efficiency of the staff there. You just ask for a book and in a moment it is placed in front of you. Today there’re millions of volumes in the library. Only a highly qualified specialist can cope with the work in this library.
The British Museum contains books and manuscripts: Greek, Roman, British and oriental antiquities. It has a department of ethnography. This collection is so vast that only a very small percentage is on show to the public. There is also a department of prints and drawings. There are departments devoted to maps, coins, medals and philately. Those who come to the British Museum can see a fascinating array of clocks and watches.
Every year the British Museum is visited by 2 million people.

EXERCISES
I. Answer two questions:

1. When was the British Museum built?
2. Where is the Museum situated?
3. Who was the benefactor of the Museum?
4. Whom was Sir Hans Sloane’s collections offered to?
5. Who can use the Reading Room of the British Museum?

II. Match the two halves.
1. The British Museum is situated in …
2. The Museum comprises …
3. The benefactor of the Museum was . . .
4. Sir Hans Sloane offered his collection to .. .
5. Anthony Panizzi . . .
6. The Reading Room has an unusual . . .
7. The superintendent . . .
8. There is a fascinating array of . . .

a) Sir Hans Sloane.
b) the British people.
c) designed the plans for the construction of the Reading Room.
d) shape.
e) issues and collects books.
f) clocks and watches.
g) the National Museum of Architecture and Ethnography and the National Library.
h) in London.

III. Fill in the gaps.
1. The Museum comprises … .
2. Sir Hans Sloane arrived in London ….
3. All his life Sir Hans Sloane remained a
4. The present building was constructed in . . . .
5. The British Museum is connected with the name of . . . .
6. Only people over the age of . . . can use the Reading Room.
7. The Reading Room has an unusual shape; it’s a . . . .
8. Every year the British Museum is visited by . . . people.

IV. True or false?
1. Sir Hans Sloane was an architect.
2. People over 21 years old may enter the Reading Room.
3. Visitors are greatly impressed by the efficiency of the staff.
4. By Law a copy of every book is preserved in the Parliament Library.
5. A. Panizzi was a lawyer.
6. Every year the British Museum is visited by 200,000 people.

Answers
II. 1. h; 2. g; 3. a; 4. b; 5. c; 6. d; 7. e; 8. f.
III. 1. the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography and the National Library; 2. 300 years ago; 3. a collector; 4. 1852; 5. Anthony Panizzi; 6. 21; 7. circle; 8. 2 million.
IV. 1. F; 2. T; 3. T; 4. F; 5. T; 6. F.

(Великобритания: Тексты для устных ответов и письменных работ на английском языке. Авт.-сост. И. Ю. Баканова)