What museums are worth seeing in London?
There are over 60 museums and permanent exhibitions in the British capital. This creates near-unlimited opportunities to spend inspiring time in a city famed for its capricious weather – especially in the autumn. London’s museums offer a huge variety of options, with plenty of modern and interactive exhibits suitable for visitors of all ages.
How much do museums in London cost?
It is truly phenomenal that, in an era of ubiquitous pursuit of profit, the majority of museums in London are free of charge. Free admission to public museums is not a new idea, but it has an especially long history in London. This is very useful information when planning your travel budget, especially as the UK’s capital is one of Europe’s most expensive cities.
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The British Museum
A flagship of British and European history, this is Britain’s most important museum. It houses eight million exhibits covering art, culture, history, and – to put it simply – the heritage of all mankind. The British Museum’s grand opening took place over 250 years ago and was inspired by a donation to the British State of a rich collection of goods amassed by Hans Sloane, a distinguished member of society. The most iconic location within the museum is the Queen Elizabeth II Courtyard, a photogenic room covered with a glass roof.
What exhibits can be found in the British Museum?
Visitors to the British Museum will discover a fascinating world of ancient civilisations and empires, including Egyptian, Roman, and Ancient Greek artifacts. The museum’s permanent exhibition covers the most important periods in world history and you can also see the legacy of the Great Masters in the form of sketches by Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci. Sculpture enthusiasts will appreciate Elgin’s Marbles – ancient marble engravings from the Parthenon in Athens and the famous Rosetta Stone – a significant monument of ancient Egyptian literature. The list of world-class exhibits is long and includes all of the above, along with the prehistoric man from Lindow, items from the royal tombs and sarcophagi of ancient Egypt and palace sculptures from Nimrud.
Book attraction tickets before you go!
A visit to The British Museum is a real treat for anyone curious about the world and can easily account for an entire day’s visit – even then, you will barely have scratched the surface! Admission to The British Museum is free and there is no requirement to book in advance. Expect large crowds and daily queues, however the sheer scale and variety of one of the world’s most interesting museums makes it well worth the wait.
Natural History Museum
Situated on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, the Natural History Museum houses over 70 million valuable exhibits in fields as varied as paleontology, botany, and entomology. This is a fully interactive museum, where visitors can actively participate in getting to know more about the fascinating natural world.
What can you see at the Natural History Museum?
Where else in the world can you admire the skeleton of a blue whale skeleton up close before experiencing an earthquake simulation? The Natural History Museum allows visitors to view a six-metre diameter slice cut from a Giant Redwood trunk and a gigantic – and fully interactive – tyrannosaur model that is sure to amaze visitors both young and old. Stroll among the skeletons of ancient dinosaurs, wooly mammoths, and fantastically preserved fossils for a journey back in time to the very beginning of life on earth.
The Natural History Museum can also be admired for its historic building. Opened to the public in 1881, the grand and imposing building is full of intricate mosaics, decorations, and architectural craftsmanship featuring work from the contemporary London designers of the time. We recommend a minimum of four-five hours of visit time in order to fully appreciate and explore this spectacular museum.
Another top museum located on Exhibition Road. A very interesting journey through the centuries in search of the most important achievements of science. From steam engines, through the novelties of the military period of World War II to the conquest of space.
Each floor of the museum is a separate visual-sensory feast. There is a garden in the basement – a creative space for the youngest, full of sounds, lights, different textures, and colors. On the ground floor, there is the Making the Modern World gallery, which is a real treat for all fans of old locomotives, planes, cars, and other inventions that changed the world. It is also on this tier that you can admire the descent module of the spacecraft, which took astronaut Tim Peake from the International Space Station to Earth. You can also see a real piece of the moon with your own eyes. A realistic simulation of a lightning strike is another example of discovering the secrets of the scientific world.
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Anyone interested in the information revolution will be delighted with the interactive projections of the second floor. This is a zone devoted to the development of data transmission technology from a telegraph to a modern smartphone. The strict minds will remember the Winton Gallery, which pays tribute to the mother of all sciences – mathematics. On the third floor of the Science Museum in the Flight Gallery, you can experience a Red Arrows jet flight and watch a movie on a record-breaking big screen.
Victoria and Albert Museum
As with the neighbouring Science and Natural History Museums, the Victoria and Albert is located in South Kensington. The museum is London’s largest arts and crafts museum and contains over a century of history with a rich collection of Hindu, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Islamic, and European decorative arts. Exhibits are grouped into five main exhibition categories over seven floors with a total area of 51,000 m².
Exploring each floor is a fascinating adventure as you uncover 5,000 years of world arts and culture, admiring the most outstanding Chinese porcelain, East Asian artwork, and Italian Renaissance and Baroque sculpture as you go. Be sure not to miss the renowned national collection of British artwork, among them exceptional paintings by John Constable.
This Thames-side museum is by far the most popular modern art gallery in the world – more so even than New York’s MoMA or the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid. Over a hundred years of art history is presented here in a nutshell – from early 20th-century modernism to the most daring and controversial pieces of modern times. It is worth visiting the Tate Modern to view work from some of the greatest artists of the 20th century, including Holzer, Warhol, Dali, Munch and Picasso. The permanent collection includes 1,500 exhibits, such as a moving sculpture by Henry Moore and Ophelia by John Everett Millais.
The exhibitions are located in a historic decommissioned power plant building, which perfectly creates an atmosphere of an alternative creative space. The gallery’s permanent exhibitions are located between the third and fifth floors, with temporary displays on the fourth floor and in the former Turbine Hall, where power generators were once located.
There are eight, 45-minute free guided tours each day, exploring the exhibitions’ many highlights. It is also possible to purchase a multimedia guide and enjoy extras such as short films depicting the artists creating their iconic work.