TOP TEN MUSEUMS
With close to 200 museums and galleries in London, you are never too far from one.
Whatever you might be interested in, from science to design or history, you’re sure to find in London a museum for you.
And the great thing is that a lot of them have free access to their permanent collections, which is a bonus.
A trip to London is not complete without a visit to one of its amazing museums and to help you decide which one to go to, here are our top ten favourites.
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10. Wellcome Collection
One of London’s smaller museums, the Wellcome Collection, known as the medical museum, displays a variety of artefacts and artworks with focus on medicine, its historical development worldwide and its impact on life.
A fantastic destination for the curious in search for something different, the museum also includes valuable works by Picasso or Anthony Gormley.
9. Sir John Soane's Museum
Sir John Soane's Museum is a house museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, formerly the home of the famous neo-classical architect John Soane, best known for the design of the Bank of England.
It displays over 30,000 architectural drawings and models, many of them done by Soane and his team, a large variety of architecture and design items, valuable Roman, Greek and Egyptian artefacts, as well as famous artworks, mostly collected by the architect during his lifetime.
The museum is also a national centre for the study of architecture.
8. Museum of London
The largest urban history museum in the world, the Museum of London traces the history of the British capital city, with thousands of exhibits, spread over nine galleries.
Each gallery represents a different era in the two thousand year-long history of London, from Roman to Medieval and Modern.
The Roman Gallery provides the greatest insight into the life of Roman London and is an absolute must-see.
Reconstruction of a room in a Roman House in London, as seen at the Museum of London
7. Design Museum
London’s Design Museum in Kensington focuses on all things design – from product and fashion to industry and architecture.
Winner of the European Museum of the Year in 2018, the Design Museum has recently reopened in its current home in West London and it includes collections over two floors, a design and architecture library for students, educators and designers, space for interactive workshops, seminar rooms and a film studio.
6. Science Museum
Visited by over 3 million visitors every year, the Science Museum is another favourite on everyone’s list, visitors or locals.
It displays thousands of wonderful items, all with engineering, mechanics or technology at their heart, from the oldest surviving steam locomotive, Puffing Billy, to the first jet engine or the Apollo 10 command module.
A special wing dedicated to digital technology provides an insight into the modern world and the bioscience collection puts the museum in a leading role as a centre for the presentation of modern science to the general public.
5. Tate Modern
One of the most visited museums in London, Tate Modern sits proudly on the bank of the river Thames south of the Millennium Bridge.
The building, which used to be the Bankside Power Station, provides a very large display space, spread over several floors, with collections covering modern art, photography, film, performance and also live exhibits.
Famous artists exhibited inside the museum include Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol and Louise Bourgeois.
Don’t miss the viewing platform on the tenth floor which offers great views over the Thames and the City of London.
Tate Modern, as seen from the north bank of the River Thames
4. Victoria and Albert Museum
Founded in 1852, London’s V&A Museum houses impressive collections of ceramics, furniture, silver, glass, costumes and photography.
One of the highlights is the museum’s spectacular glass collection with over 7,000 objects dating from 2000BC.
The museum is also home to some hugely popular temporary exhibitions, with fashion and contemporary pop culture at their heart.
3. Natural History Museum
Housed in a wonderful neo-gothic building in the heart of Museumland in South Kensington (or South Ken as it is known by the locals), The Natural History Museum is the family favourite of all times.
It exhibits a vast range of specimens from various eras of natural history, with five main collections – zoology, botany, entomology, palaeontology and mineralogy.
The specimens collected by Charles Darwin, in particular, which are on display in the museum, are of great historical and scientific value.
It is very famous for the Dinosaurs exhibition and for a very long time it had a real size cast of a Dipplodocus in the main hall. Dippy has been replaced in 2017 with the skeleton of a blue whale called Hope, which is currently hanging from the ceiling greeting visitors as they enter the museum.
Hope, the blue whale skeleton at the Natural History Museum in London
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2. National Gallery
Located in the heart of Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery houses one of the largest and most impressive collections of paintings in the world.
It is the home of renowned European masterpieces made by the likes of Da Vinci, Botticelli, Raphael, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Rubens, Turner, Renoir or Cezanne.
The Gallery offers an extensive program of mostly free lectures, talks, readings and guided tours, if you are interested in discovering the collection in more detail.
1. British Museum
Britain’s largest museum offers visitors a fabulous cultural journey spread across its 900,000 square feet of display space.
It houses an impressive collection of around 8 million objects, antiquities and artefacts from all over the world.
Some of these famous artefacts include the Rosetta Stone, the piece of stone with text in three ancient languages which helped modern scholars translate the Egyptian hieroglyphs, the Parthenon Marbles, Egyptian mummies, Sutton Hoo mask, as well as impressive Roman, Greek and Medieval collections.
Rosetta Stone, seen inside the British Museum, London