The British Museum is one of the largest, most famous museums in the world, with a permanent collection of around eight million items and a programme of internationally important exhibitions running year-round.
This spring and summer, one such highlight is Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum – a major show on the two Roman cities destroyed by Mount Vesuvius.
While these settlements were destroyed in just 24 hours by a catastrophic eruption in AD 79, the high temperature volcanic ash with which they were buried also managed to ensure they remain in an amazing state of preservation for thousands of years.
The exhibition, which has been running for around a month and shows no sign of slowing, is the largest of its kind ever held in the UK – with scores of the 250 artifacts on display having come to our shores for the first time. The British Museum has co-operated with the Archaeological Superintendency of Naples and Pompeii to secure uncommonly generous loans, meaning certain items have never been publicly exhibited outside of Italy before now.
Rather than focusing on legionaries, gladiators and emperors, the exhibition promises an intimate exploration of the lives of normal Roman people – businessmen, wives and children, freed slaves and "powerful women".
An ongoing series of lectures and events accompanies the items on display, and for anyone wishing to enjoy the full experience these are unmissable.
Attendance to lectures can be booked through the museum's website, and visitors are advised to act fast as places are strictly limited. They still have an opportunity to see "Vesuvius: a volcano, its history and legacy" on May 3rd, where leading experts from British and Italian institutions will discuss the eruption's context and aftermath.
More adventurous guests can attend a lecture on the sewers of Herculaneum and a drop-in evening that explores "a night out in the Bay of Naples".
The British Museum is one of the capital's leading attractions, and its central location make it easily accessible to tourists who might be staying in hotels in London. The museum is in walking distance of the Holborn, Tottenham Court Road and Russell Square Underground stations.
For exhibition access, booking is essential and tickets start at £15 for adults.