Cracks in the Facade
The great national museum and library is open 10 am to 4, 5, or 6 pm, depending on the season. Some galleries open later on certain days, and the museum is also open Sunday afternoons. Admission is free, but catalogs of the exhibits cost up to sixpence. Its collections are divided into eleven departments: Books and Maps; Manuscripts; Prints and Drawings; Oriental Antiquities (including Egyptian); Greek and Roman Antiquities; British and Medieval Antiquities and Ethnography; Coins and Medals; and Zoology, Geology, Mineralogy, and Botany (these last four housed at the Natural History Museum in Kensington).
The Reading Room is a large circular hall covered by a dome of glass and iron, located within the central courtyard of the museum. It is open daily from 9am to 7 or 8pm, depending on the season, and comfortably accommodates 360 patrons. Researchers request the books they desire, and attendants bring them to their seats. Those wishing to use the reading room need to apply in writing to the Principal Librarian, noting name, profession, and address, with a recommendation from a well-known London householder. A two-day waiting period is required between submission of the application and issuance of a non-transferable admittance ticket, good for six months.