The British Museum, London

The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London.

The British Museum

Gallery 22

Its gallery number 22 contains busts of a number of ancient Greek thinkers and writers who are part of the humanist tradition.

Socrates (469-399 BCE), whose freethinking scepticism brought him into conflict with authoritarian political forces of the day and led to his execution and whose ethics were based on reason and experience, not religion

Epicurus (341-270 BCE), who believed that human life had come about by natural processes, that happiness depended on moderation and the respect and friendship of others, and that there was no afterlife

Chrysippus the Stoic (280-207 BCE), who believed reason, sympathy and knowledge were the tools human beings should use when addressing ethical problems.

Gallery 15

Gallery number 15 contains a very famous bust of the Athenian democratic statesman Pericles, whose funeral oration as recorded by the historian Thucydides presents a model of the open society which has inspired humanist political philosophers from John Stuart Mill to Karl Popper.

Gallery 36

In gallery 36 is a Portrait plaque of Dr Joseph Priestley – a nonconformist minister and scientist who aroused controversy with his various publications on religious matters, and was condemned as an atheist.


The Museum is free to all visitors and is open daily 10.00am–5.30pm.

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