Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Antique Image of the Day: The Royal Opening of the King Edward VII Gallery at the British Museum, May 7, 1914

King George V and Queen Mary
Attending the Opening of the King Edward VII Galleries
at the British Museum
May 7, 1914
The British Museum

In 1907, three years before his death, King Edward VII laid the foundation stone to a monumental addition to the British Museum, which was to be named in his honor. 
 The King Edward VII's Galleries were designed by the celebrated architect  J.J. Burnet and were built between 1906 and 1914.

Burnet, in preparing the design, visited newly built museums across Europe and the U.S. to ensure that the extension in honor of the King would use the most stylish and up-to-date materials and would offer the latest amenities including heating, ventilation, modern lighting and exhibition cases.

The new extension was opened after Edward VII’s death by the King's son, King George V, and Queen Mary, on May 7 1914—one day and four years after the king’s death.
  That would be ninety-eight years ago today!  The event was captured in a series of photographs.  The image above shows King George V and Queen Mary on their way to the opening and, then, the image below shows them leaving.

King George V and Queen Mary were shown around the new building and the King inspected the Guard, formed by the Brigade of the Artists' Rifles.

This building marked the first stage of a grand scheme to replace the houses surrounding the existing British Museum building with new galleries, more library space, students' rooms and lecture theatres.

The First World War, a lack of funds and later conservation regulations regarding the existing structures halted these plans. 

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