The British Museum has had its most successful year since it started counting visitors - and probably since its foundation in 1753. In the financial year 2007-08, a record 6 million people came through the doors, including 35,000 who visited on a single day to celebrate the Chinese new year.
The museum's director, Neil MacGregor, said: "We had to shut the main gates on Great Russell Street to prevent more people from coming in. It was the first time we did that since the Chartist riots of 1848 - although on that occasion the staff were actually on the roof, armed with stones."
EXT. BRITISH MUSEUM - 1848 - DAY
A mighty crowd has gathered at the gates of the museum. Members of staff glare menacingly from the roof.
CHARTIST CROWD: We just want to use the toilets!
The staff begin throwing stones. The crowd retreat a little under the attack, but remain unbowed. A spokesman finally struggles forward.
SPOKESMAN: Look, we'll all buy coffees, how about that!
A small clay Anthony Gormley hits the spokesman in the forehead. He collapses.
CHARTIST CROWD: BASTARDS!
A squad of French schoolchildren are pushed in under the gates
From inside, the sound of breakages and theft can dimly be made out. The staff go into a huddle. Meanwhile, the crowd has begun a chant.
NEW SPOKESPERSON: WHAT DO WE WANT?
CHARTIST CROWD: FREE ACCESS TO A RANGE OF ANTIQUITIES BETWEEN TEN AND HALF PAST FIVE!
NEW SPOKESPERSON: WHEN DO WE WANT IT?
CROWD: WE JUST SAID!
After a while, the staff seem to have come to some sort of conclusion. One senior member of staff steps gingerly to the edge of the roof, and holds a rolled poster for the 'Lord John Russell's Toby Jugs: A Retrospective' exhibition up to his mouth.
STAFF MEMBER: (Is this thing on?) We can do a deal! Did anyone bring any antiquities?
The crowd have a think. Eventually a small child is pushed forward. In his arms he bears a bundle of rolled-up papers.
CHILD: I bring charts!
CHARTIST CROWD: HURRAH!
BENJAMIN DISRAELI: HURRAH!
STAFF MEMBER: Bit previous.
BENJAMIN DISRAELI: BOOOOO.
UPDATE: when I bothered to actually look up Chartism rather than just make up silly sketches about it, it's actually quite interesting.