British Museum

Sir Robert Smirke
1852; Reading Room by Sydney Smirke, 1854-7

In 1823, Robert Smirke was commissioned to design the library to house the King's Library and the museum's collections. It took more than two decades to build. The original museum had four wings around an open quadrangle-shaped courtyard.

The restored Reading Room

The Rotunda, the Reading Room, was added, designed by Robert Smirke's brother, Sydney. It was previously surrounded by bookstacks, never meant to be seen from the outside; now it has a limestone facade. (See Queen Elizabeth II Great Court, British Museum. Today the restored Reading Room, open without restriction to the general public, houses the Paul Hamlyn Library and COMPASS, a multi-media database of the collections.

See Queen Elizabeth II Great Court by Sir Norman Foster.

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© 2003 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.

Page created by Mary Ann Sullivan