News, Culture & Society

A (spooky) Night At The Museum

British Museum guards have reported hearing things go bump in the night with doors swinging open, midnight fire alarms and unnerving patches of cold air in a series of terrifying hauntings.

Mysterious footsteps, music and ghostly crying have plagued the halls of the 18th century institution as night security teams patrolled the galleries, which are home to more than eight million artefacts from Ancient Egypt to the Aztec Empire.

Glowing, white orbs have been spotted hovering above a staircase in the Great Court in the dead of night, only visible through CCTV footage.

Meanwhile foreign visitors have reported spotting the chilling ghost of a female dwarf the reflection of a glass case after taking a photograph of a 16th century mechanical galleon. 

These stories have been brought together by artist Noah Angell, from North Carolina, who has spent four years hearing tales of the museum’s supernatural occurrences from more than 50 people.

These ghostly artefacts will surely be running rampant in the British Museum at the moment, as it has been closed for weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

British Museum guards have reported doors swinging open moments after being bolted shut in the Sutton Hoo gallery (Pictured: the Sutton Hoo Helmet inside the gallery) 

Lingering patches of cold air have been noted near a pair of winged bulls from Khorsabad at the entrance of the Assyrian gallery (pictured)

Lingering patches of cold air have been noted near a pair of winged bulls from Khorsabad at the entrance of the Assyrian gallery (pictured)

Those who patrol the London museum at night have noted strange occurrences, including one guard who bolted the doors to the Sutton Hoo gallery – only to be told by a CCTV operator that they stood wide open again moments later.

The gallery, which traces the story of Europe as the Roman Empire broke down in the west and thrived as the Byzantine Empire in the east, contains the treasures of an Anglo-Saxon ship burial which was discovered in Sutton Hoo, Suffolk in 1939. 

Lingering patches of cold air have been noted near a pair of winged bulls from Khorsabad at the entrance of the Assyrian gallery, 1843 Magazine reported.

In the African galleries, a security guard also reported fire alarms sounding throughout the museum after he was compelled to point his finger towards the figure of a two-headed dog on two occasions. 

The figure is believed to have been made by the Bakongo in the 19th century and features the faces of two dogs carved into wood alongside dozens of blades.

Others have noted hearing mysterious footsteps, music and crying throughout the halls of the tourist attraction, which receives more than 17,000 visitors per day when open.

In the Clocks and Watches gallery, a Dutch couple reportedly once took a photograph of the mechanical galleon, a model ship from 16th century Germany, only to discover the ghost of a female dwarf reflected in the glass case. 

In the African galleries, a security guard reported fire alarms sounding after he was compelled to point his finger towards the figure of a two-headed dog (pictured) on two occasions

In the African galleries, a security guard reported fire alarms sounding after he was compelled to point his finger towards the figure of a two-headed dog (pictured) on two occasions

A Dutch couple reportedly once took a photograph of a mechanical galleon (pictured) only to discover the ghost of a female dwarf reflected in the glass case

A Dutch couple reportedly once took a photograph of a mechanical galleon (pictured) only to discover the ghost of a female dwarf reflected in the glass case

Phil Heary, who had worked at the museum for 29 years, added he once felt the temperature dramatically fall for an unknown reason in the Ancient Egypt gallery, where 19 mummies were on display (above, stock image of the Egyptian collection)

Phil Heary, who had worked at the museum for 29 years, added he once felt the temperature dramatically fall for an unknown reason in the Ancient Egypt gallery, where 19 mummies were on display (above, stock image of the Egyptian collection)

Phil Heary, who worked at the museum for 29 years, added he once felt the temperature dramatically fall for no known reason in the Ancient Egypt gallery, where 19 mummies were on display.     

‘It was like walking into a freezer,’ he said. ‘My stomach turned over. The feel of the gallery was – you wanted to get out. I’m a great believer that, wherever you’re buried, you should stay there. A lot of the mummies there should be back in their graves.’

Mr Angell has been investigating hauntings at the British Museum since 2016 after first learning of the supernatural stories at a pub in London. 

‘I thought that there would be a half dozen or so stories which everyone knows, and they circulate around the museum, and little variations and mutations are created,’ the 39-year-old said. 

Glowing, white orbs have been spotted hovering above a staircase in the Great Court (pictured) in the dead of night, only visible to the naked eye through CCTV footage

Glowing, white orbs have been spotted hovering above a staircase in the Great Court (pictured) in the dead of night, only visible to the naked eye through CCTV footage

Museum staff have noted seeing visitors attempt to communicate with the Statue of Goddess Sekhmet (pictured) inside the sculpture gallery, as if they believe the exhibit has otherworldly power

Museum staff have noted seeing visitors attempt to communicate with the Statue of Goddess Sekhmet (pictured) inside the sculpture gallery, as if they believe the exhibit has otherworldly power

But Mr Angell has now spoken to more than 50 employees and visitors about these unnatural events, and he gives two-hour walking tours of the museum detailing their locations.  

Another supernatural occurrence took place at around 3am above a staircase in the Great Court, when the overnight security team heard an alarm sound from a disabled bathroom.

A CCTV operator then called to tell the team they could see large balls of white light – or orbs – surrounding them, though the security guards couldn’t ‘see anything’ of the sort.  

The Elgin Marbles (pictured), which were removed from the Parthenon in the 1800s by the Earl of Elgin, were reportedly heard weeping in the crate as they were transported to the UK

The Elgin Marbles (pictured), which were removed from the Parthenon in the 1800s by the Earl of Elgin, were reportedly heard weeping in the crate as they were transported to the UK 

From chilling ghosts to blasts of cold air: Where hauntings have taken place inside the British Museum

The Great Court

The Queen Elizabeth II Great Court, often referred to as the Great Court, is the central quadrangle of the British Museum.

Security teams have reported spotting glowing, white orbs on CCTV footage above a staircase after hearing a fire alarm sound in a disabled toilet. 

The African Galleries

Ghostly activity has been reported around the figure of a two-headed dog inside the Sainsbury African Galleries. 

The figure is believed to have been made by the Bakongo in the 19th century and features the faces of two dogs carved into wood alongside dozens of blades. 

A security guard reported fire alarms sounding after he was compelled to point his finger towards the figure on two occasions.

The Sutton Hoo and Europe Gallery

The Sutton Hoo Gallery, which traces the story of Europe for 700 years from 300AD, contains the treasures of an Anglo-Saxon ship burial which was discovered in Sutton Hoo, Suffolk in 1939.

Those who patrol the London museum at night have noted strange occurrences, including one guard who bolted the doors to the exhibit – only to be told by a CCTV operator that they stood wide open again moments later.   

The Assyrian Gallery 

Lingering patches of cold air have been noted near a pair of winged bulls at the entrance of the Assyrian gallery.

The human-headed sculptures are from a gateway in the citadel wall at Khorsabad, Iraq, with panels showing a winged divine figure about to anoint with a ‘cone’ and magical fluid from a bucket.  

The Ancient Egypt Gallery 

Phil Heary, who worked at the museum for 29 years, said he once felt the temperature fall for no known reason in the Ancient Egypt gallery, where 19 mummies are on display.   

It was considered at the time whether these mysterious orbs could be connected to a white, wrought-iron gate from a concentration camp in Buchenwald, Germany which formed part of an exhibition from October 2014 to January 2015. 

The First Egyptian Room has also been the subject of reporting hauntings, with many wary of the mummy case of a high priestess of the Temple of Amen-Ra. 

The ‘Unlucky Mummy’, donated to the British Museum in July 1889, has been credited with causing death, injury and even disasters such as the sinking of the titanic in 1912, though there is little evidence to suggest these are true. 

Museum staff have also noted seeing visitors attempt to communicate with the Statue of Goddess Sekhmet inside the sculpture gallery, as if they believe this exhibit has otherworldly power.  

It has been suggested that any hauntings at the British Museum are ‘manifestations of disquiet about the institution’s heritage’, though Mr Angell said he hasn’t witnessed any ‘guilt’ or ‘anger’ from employees about the objects they care for.

He has, however, been alerted to stories of questionably found items, such as a marble statues removed from the Parthenon in Athens by the Earl of Elgin in the 1800s. 

According to legend, the sculptures were heard weeping from inside the crate as they were transported to London. 

In 2016, a legal bid to pressure the UK to return the Elgin Marbles to the Greek capital was thrown out by the European Court of Human Rights as the alleged theft took more than 150 years before the UK signed the convention. 

Jim Peters, collections manager at the Britain, Europe and Prehistory department, said he ‘agrees to a certain extent’ with this idea of ‘restless objects’, while insisting it is ‘very important the pieces are here.’ 

The curator of the museum’s Middle East department, Irving Finkel, said the British Museum could potentially attract ghosts for ‘lots of reasons,’ adding a belief in so-called ‘spiritual lingering’ comes naturally to humans. 

The British Museum, which features extensive, changing exhibitions on art, culture and human history alongside a permanent collection of eight million works, was established in 1753, largely based on the collection of scientist Sir Hans Sloane.

It first opened to the public at Montagu House, on the site of the current building, in 1759 and has expanded steadily over the subsequent 250 years. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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