Whether you’re looking to entertain the kids, explore the history of London or view world famous works of art, London museums have something for everyone.
Museums for kids
From dinosaurs to creepy crawlies, blue whales to birds, children will be fascinated by the many exhibits on display at the Natural History Museum. Reptiles, insects, minerals, and fossils are among the other sights to see and there’s an opportunity to watch scientists at work in the Darwin Centre. Next door at the Science Museum kids can explore galleries about space, machines and medicine, take a ride in a Red Arrows 3D simulator, or relax in the museum’s IMAX Theatre. Alternatively, show your kids what life was like for you as a child at the V&A Museum of Childhood. Displays include construction toys, model cars, dolls’ houses, puzzles and must-have 20th century toys.
Explore the world
The British Museum is one of the most famous museums in London, not to mention the world, with its vast collection of artefacts from every corner of the globe. The world-famous objects on display include the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon marbles and the Lewis Chessmen. The museum’s Ancient Greek and Egyptian collections are always popular, but it’s worth taking the time to seek out the museum’s lesser-known collections, too. Other museums featuring items from civilizations past and present include the Horniman Museum, an anthropological treasure trove of objects from all over the world, including Benin, Mexico and Papua New Guinea; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, which is filled with all manner of textiles, jewellery, photography and architecture from the past 5,000 years.
Delve into London’s long history with a trip to the Museum of London, which takes visitors on a journey through the English capital, from prehistoric times to the present day. Along the way you can learn about London life during the Roman occupation, to the devastating impact of the 1665 plague and great fire of 1666. Housed in an old almshouse, the Geffrye Museum in Hoxton offers a glimpse into what it was like to live in the capital over the centuries. And with more than 450,000 objects spanning 200 years, you can explore the history of London’s vital transport network through the ages at the London Transport Museum.
London’s galleries are an art lovers’ delight, with a variety of artists and media on display. The walls of the National Portrait Gallery are lined with the portraits of men and women who have helped shape the UK over the centuries, from monarchs and politicians to writers, explorers and scientists. Around the corner on Trafalgar Square, you can discover works of art by the likes of Michelangelo, Monet, Rembrandt and Velázquez at The National Gallery. For a journey through British art from the 16th century to the present, don’t miss the Tate Britain where you can see works by JMW Turner, William Blake, David Hockney and more. Along the Thames, contemporary art by artists such as Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and Roy Lichtenstein, is on display at the Tate Modern. If you’re looking for something more unusual, the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea features exhibitions by unknown or rarely exhibited artists.
Quirky days out
It might look like a regular, unassuming town house from the outside, but the Sir John Soane’s Museum is one of the best free museums in London. Untouched since the death of the man who built it, the architect Sir John Soane, the museum is filled with the quirky curiosities he collected during his lifetime. Across Lincoln’s Inn Fields is the Hunterian Museum. Situated within the Royal College of Surgeons, it is filled with anatomical and zoological specimens gathered by 19th century surgeon John Hunter, among others. It’s a little gruesome but offers a fascinating insight into the natural world. While the Wellcome Collection nearby is also home to a range of weird and curious medical objects, such as Napoleon’s toothbrush and George III’s hair, all once belonging to the philanthropist Henry Wellcome.