Freedom of Information publication scheme

Freedom of information logoThe scheme explains what information the Museum makes available to the public and where possible provides an easy method of accessing this information.

Introduction to the Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act aims to develop a culture of openness in government and public bodies. The Act establishes a right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities and imposes obligations on them to disclose information, subject to a range of exemptions. The British Museum is a public body under the terms of the Act.

Anyone can make a request for information to the Museum, although the request must be in writing (letter or e-mail). The Act gives applicants two related rights:

The right to be told whether the information exists The right to receive the information, where possible in the manner requested In some cases, where information is exempt from disclosure, the Museum is required to consider whether the public interest in maintaining the exemption in question outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

The British Museum Publication Scheme

Section 19 of the Act obliges every public authority to adopt an approved Publication Scheme. The intention of a Publication Scheme is to require authorities to make certain kinds of information routinely available to the public. The British Museum has adopted the model Publication Scheme for Authorities established to manage museums, libraries, and archives taking effect from 1 January 2009 in compliance with guidance from the Information Commissioner.

The information listed in the Publication Scheme is generally made available in electronic format but can be provided as a hardcopy on request in writing (email is acceptable) or by phone.


All information listed in the Publication Scheme is available free of charge.


Information which is generated by the British Museum and included in this Publication Scheme may be reproduced for information and personal study only. Please refer to our Terms of Use for information about reproducing images.

Permission to reproduce information in the Publication Scheme does not extend to any material which is identified as being the copyright of a third party. Authorisation to reproduce such material must be obtained from the copyright holders concerned.

How to make a request for information not included in the Publication Scheme

Requests for information not listed in the Publication Scheme should be made in writing to the Museum and should provide as much detail as possible to enable Museum staff to identify the information sought. If you require the information in a particular format, for example, in hard copy or electronically, this should be stated in your application. If you have difficulty in identifying the precise information you require, or difficulty in making the application in writing, Museum staff will be pleased to help.

In general the British Museum is required to respond to requests for information within 20 working days. If a fee is to be charged, this will be calculated according to the Fees Regulations published by the Information Commissioner. Under the Act, fees may be charged based on a standard hourly rate in respect of the time spent in determining whether the Museum holds the information, locating the information or a document which may contain the information, retrieving the information or a document which may contain the information, and extracting the information from a document containing it,. Where fees are payable, the enquiry will be answered within 20 working days from the date of receipt of the fee.

The Museum's postal address is:

The British Museum
Great Russell Street
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7323 8000

Email enquiries:

Appeals and complaints procedure

If you are dissatisfied with the response you have had from the Museum in respect of a request for information you may invoke the appeals and complaints procedure. The first step is to seek an internal review of the decision you have received. Requests for internal review should be submitted in writing to the Information Manager at the Museum.

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome or the handling of the internal review conducted by the Museum you may seek an independent review from the Information Commissioner.

Requests for a review by the Information Commissioner should be made in writing directly to:

The Information Commissioner's Office,
Wycliffe House,
Water Lane,

Further information about this scheme, comments

If you need any further information about the contents of the Museum's Publication Scheme or have any comments about access to Museum information, please contact the Information Manager.