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The world's top ten museums

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Museums are the closest we will ever get to time travel. Only within the hallowed walls of a museum can we trace the history of a civilisation and have an idea of how it worked.
Every town and city throughout the world seems to document its past in some way or other, but several museums have become so famous that they are destinations in themselves attracting millions of visitors who flock from across the world to view their exhibits.
After much discussion, egypTraveluxe has selected our ultimate list of world-class museums that everyone should visit in their lifetime...

British Museum, London

The Rosetta Stone
Ancient translator: The Rosetta Stone is one of the museum's most prized possessions
Whether you agree or not with the museum keeping items collected by British explorers through the ages, the array of pieces on display at the British Museum certainly gives an all-encompassing history lesson. There is no other collection like it.  Ancient cultures from Latin America to Persia to Greece are brought to life in this eclectic space and some of the world's most important archaeological finds in the world attract visitors from far and wide. The Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles and the Mummy of Katebet are some of the most popular attractions and constantly changing guest exhibitions keep visitors returning time and time again.  
Star attraction
The Rosetta Stone takes the top spot  if only for its importance in helping historians unlock the past through a greater understanding of hieroglyphic writing.
Entrance fee?
Entrance to the museum is free although there may be a small charge for special exhibitions.

Egyptian Museum, Cairo

Tutankhamun's gold mask
The boy prince: Tutankhamun's treasures including his gold mask are on display at the Egyptian Museum
This enormous neo-classical building houses the greatest collection of Egyptian antiquities in the world. The fascination with Tutankhamen means many visitors head there simply to see the treasures buried with him including his famous gold mask.  But the museum is also packed with the intricate gold jewellery of past rulers and an extensive collection of religious sculptures. The funerary exhibition explains the beliefs and science behind the mummifying of bodies and the items placed in the tombs. The restored statues of the God Amuna and the Goddess Mut from Karnak, painstakingly put together by historians after they were found smashed, are also fascinating.
Star attraction
Tutankhamen's gold mask, one of the most famous symbols of ancient Egypt.
Entrance fee?
50 L.E (£2.20) for adults and 30 L.E (£1.10) for children

Capitoline Museums, Rome

Sculpture of Alexander the Great
Michelangelo's museum: The Capitoline Museum houses many great roman statues
The creation of the Capitoline Museums has been traced back to 1471, when Pope Sixtus IV donated a group of bronze statues of great symbolic value to the people of Rome. Its ancient roots make it the oldest existing public collection in the world. This is not the museum's only famous link, the spectacular Piazza del Campidoglio on top of the famous Capitoline Hill which hosts the archeological museums was designed by none other than Michelangelo Buonarroti. The collections house the best of the classic period of Roman civilisation with bronze and stone statues of religious scenes and rulers alongside jewels, coins and other artifacts. The excellent views over the forum and the pleasant little cafe make the Capitolone Museums a fantastic destination for any visitor to Rome.
Star attraction?
There are several star attractions including the original version of the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, the famous bronze statue of a she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus and Bernini's Bust of Medusa.
Entrance fee?
Basic admission costs €6.50 (£5.60) with concessions costing €4.50 (£3.80)

Acropolis Museum, Athens

The New Acropolis museum in Athens
Star attraction: The newly-opened Acropolis Museum has received praise for its design and accessible content
The most modern museum to make it into the top ten, this museum opened in June in a futuristic construction at the foot of the Acropolis. The sleek, modern building houses some 4,000 exhibits in a time line formation making the understanding of Greek history more manageable. Light and airy, the building not only offers spellbinding views of the Acropolis itself but throughout the building glass panels reveal excavations of the ancient dwellings below. The top floor is a majestic setting for the Parthenon Marbles although replicas replace those that are currently housed in the British Museum. The Acropolis museum has already been critically acclaimed and, after three decades of trying, provides a fitting showcase for the wonders of Ancient Greece.
Star attraction
Head for the third floor where the Marbles are beautifully displayed and there are wonderful views of the Acropolis.
Entrance fee?
A general admission fee of €1 (85p) is being charged until 2010 when it will rise to €5 (£4.30)

American Museum of Natural History, New York

Life size replica of a blue whale at the American Museum of Natural History
Life size: The replicas at the American Museum of Natural History are astounding
This four-floor building in New York's 'museum mile' is packed with 46 exhibition halls filled with habitat groups of land and sea animals from all over the world.  The spectacular collection is eclipsed only by the 94-foot-long blue whale model suspended in the Hall of Ocean Life and the Tyrannosaurus Rex made up entirely of real fossils. A huge variety of special exhibitions keeps the museum at the cutting edge of scientific research and encourages both child and adult visitors alike.  The 'History of Man' exhibition is ever popular and for its sheer ability to bring history to life the IMAX cinema is another enthralling part.  The area that has won most critical acclaim is the Rose Centre. One of New York's boldest landmarks this planetarium and space exhibition is not only a dramatic and powerful educational resource but a centre for world-class scientific research. 
Star attraction
The Hall of Human Origins offers the most comprehensive evidence of human evolution ever assembled and the Rose Centre is well worth a visit for its fascinating exhibition and its magnitude - it has ceilings higher than Grand Central Station.
Entrance fee?
Adults pay $16 (£9.80) and children $9 (£5.50)

National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City

Aztec Calendar Stone
A date with history: The Aztec calendar stone is one of the most popular attractions at the National Anthropology Museum
Anyone confused by the multitude of ancient cultures present throughout Mexico's long history must make a trip to see the National Museum of Anthropology.  Split into 25 exhibition halls defined by cultural region this popular tourist attraction, built round an open patio, is considered one of the world's finest archeological museums.  The open design of the museum makes it a pleasure to walk around in contrast to the old-fashioned dark museums so often found in cities. The collection of carved stones, sculptures and storytelling friezes give an insight into the beliefs and practices of the ancient Maya, Aztecs, Zapotecs and all the other civilisations that existed pre-conquest. The Aztec Sun Stone, a 25-tonne intricately carved basalt slab describing Aztec life which was discovered buried under Mexico's main plaza is one of the main crowd pleasers. But a replica of the Aztec ruler Moctezuma's feathered headdress and a Mayan tomb of the 8th-century ruler, Pacal, are also unmissable sights. The Chapultepec Park where the museum is located is a beautiful setting and families can move on from the museum to explore a zoo, several lakes and an amusement park.
Star attraction
The Aztec Sun Stone is what most people come to see along with the Aztec Calendar, one of the most recognised images in Mexico.
Entrance fee?
MX$51 (£2.30) for adults and free for children, students and senior citizens.

Smithsonian Institute, Washington

Smithsonian Institute, Washington
Something for everyone: The Smithsonian Institute is a collection of 17 museums in Washington
The Smithsonian Institue is more than just a museum, it's the world's largest museum complex and research organisation composed of 17 museums and a national zoo in Washington with links to two more museums in New York.  The collection of museums is so vast that there is guaranteed to be something to attract every visitor whether it is the American Indian museum, Air and Space museum or the Anacostia Community museum with its roots in documenting the African-American culture.  The National Museum of American Hitsory guides the visitor through the history of science, technology, society and culture in America making it an ideal starting point for foreign visitors. With a circulator bus to help you get about between all the buildings and an imposing castle-like information centre, the complex is well equipped to deal with visitors hoping to see as much as possible during their visit.  If the heavy museums get too much the 163-acre zoo has more than 400 animal species.
Star attraction
With so many different museums it is difficult to choose one star attraction but the American History Museum gives a great overview up to Obama's inauguration.
Entrance fee?
Admission is free for all Smithsonian museums and the zoo in Washington D.C.

Australian Museum, Sydney


Australian Museum in evening
Steeped in history: Australia's oldest museum tells the story of how modern Australia came about
The oldest museum in Australia is built on the ruins of the house of the country's first governor-general, Governor Phillip. The original house was built in 1788 and exposed by archaeologists in the 1980s. Visitors can explore colonial and contemporary Sydney through the collection of  objects recovered from more than 25 archaeological digs along with pictures and panoramic views of the city from 1788 to today. These historic wonders sit alongside a fantastic natural history collection looking at insects, dinosaurs, minerals and birds. The current Surviving Australia exhibition, which  looks at the country's most deadly creatures is sure to be a crowd-pleaser among both adults and children.  
Star attraction
The Indigenous Australians exhibition is a eye-opening look at the history, culture and political struggles of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people - the oldest living culture in the world.
Entrance fee?
General admission is $12 for adults (£5.70) , $6 (£2.90) for a child.  A family ticket (two adults and two children) is $30 (£14.30).

Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore


Singapore River and Asian Civilisations Museum
Colonial heritage: The old government building overlooking the Singapore River is now the Asian Civilisations Museum
The first museum in the region to present a broad perspective of pan-Asian cultures and civilisations, this museum is a must-see for any visitor to Singapore.  Located in the Empress Place building, which used to be a colonial government office, the museum offers spectacular views over the mouth of the Singapore River.  But visitors will forget about the views as they learn about the story of Asia through thousands of years' worth of artifacts from a Cambodian Khmer temple to Chinese ceramics and south Indian bronzes. The Singapore River gallery gives an insight into this important natural resource which gave Singapore its power and wealth as an international trade centre.
Star attraction

A collection of white Dehua porcelain also known as 'blanc de chine'.  These finely moulded pieces from the Ming and Qing periods were produced in Fujian province and are displayed in the China gallery.
Entrance fee?

Adult admission is $5 (£2) and concessions pay $2.50 (£1).

The National Museum of Syria, Damascus

Roman Statue in the National Museum
Treasure trove: Roman, Byzantine and Arab Islamic collections sit side by side in the museum
For the sheer volume of artifacts displayed, Syria's national museum deserves a place in the top ten. Located in the oldest continually inhabited city in the world the museum certainly equals its surroundings with its two wings hosting Arab Islamic, Classical and Byzantine collections.  Many of the most important finds from excavations throughout Syria are on display here and the collection begins even before you enter. The facade of the building incorporates the transplanted gateway of Qasr al-Heir al Gharbi, a desert castle near Palmyra. Visitors can see clay tablets of the oldest alphabet in the world, the Ugaritic Alphabet and ivory, bronze and marble classical statues found at the many archeological sites throughout the country.
Star attraction
By far the most popular part of the museum is the reconstructed 2nd-century AD Synagogue, with walls that are covered with Talmudic laws and scenes from the scriptures.
Entrance fee?
According to the Syrian Embassy, entrance to the museum is free.


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