The Best Museums in London
The museums of London hold historical evidence of almost every aspect of our collective history.
However, if we were to jump 50 years into the future, what would the defining challenges of our current generation be? Would there be a museum of pandemic relics? What about a lateral flow test exhibit? Or perhaps a showcase of PPE equipment?
Such possibilities aren’t entirely out of the question. Boasting more than 150 museums, London is famous for its meticulous, mass collection of all manner of historical artifacts. If you happen to find yourself in the area or plan on traveling to the city anytime soon, here are nine of the most highly recommended museums in London.
The British Museum
Featuring over two million years of human history, art, and culture, the British Museum has documented all aspects of human development over time. It can be found in the Bloomsbury area of central London, an area renowned for its abundance of museums.
The British Museum was first opened to the public back in 1759, making it the oldest public national museum in existence. With a collection of around eight million works, it’s also one of the largest museums in the world.
The Design Museum
From contemporary design to eccentric adverts of the past, the Design Museum covers several different design themes, such as industrial, graphic, and fashion design. Thanks to its unique exhibits, the museum won the 2018 European Museum of the Year.
The Design Museum operates as a registered charity, with all funds from ticket sales aiding in the curation of new exhibitions. Situated on Kensington Street, the venue is within walking distance of London Underground’s High Street Kensington station.
Madame Tussauds features waxworks of famous historical figures and popular film and television characters; one of London’s major tourist attractions, the wax museum is to be found a stone’s throw away from Baker Street station.
Created by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud in 1835, Madame Tussauds has grown from strength to strength over the years. It is now considered an international brand, with several smaller museums in a number of major cities around the world.
Museum of London
With over six million individual objects, the Museum of London has the largest urban history collection in the world. It covers the entire history of London, from prehistoric times all the way through to the modern age.
Currently found near St. Paul’s Cathedral, within a collection of buildings known as the Barbican complex, the Museum of London is in the process of being relocated to a new site. The move is expected to be complete by the end of 2024.
The National Gallery
The National Gallery lies to the north of Trafalgar Square, in a borough of Inner London known as the City of Westminster. Like most museums in London, entry is free of charge, with the main collection drawing millions of visitors per year.
The Gallery houses over 2,300 paintings, some of which date back to the 13th century. Though its collection may be smaller than other European national galleries, it is extensive in scope, covering all significant periods in art history.
Natural History Museum
Often referred to as the world’s natural history center, London’s Natural History Museum is a premier showcase of life and earth science. Found on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, the museum is also a research center for many scientific studies.
The Natural History Museum has five main collections: botany concerns the study of plants; entomology is all about insects; zoology encompasses the rest of the animal kingdom; mineralogy is geology, and paleontology is the study of ancient life.
Like the Natural History Museum, London’s Science Museum is located along Exhibition Road in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It is one of London’s biggest tourist attractions, visited by over 3 million people annually.
In order to make science accessible and exciting, the Science Museum uses interactive exhibits and the latest technology to keep visitors engaged. The built-in IMAX theater, for example, plays 3D educational films and hosts live events.
The Tate Modern is the most-visited art museum in Britain. Using a renovated power station to hold its priceless collection, the Tate can be found in Bankside, within the London Borough of Southwark.
One of the world’s largest modern and contemporary art museums, the Tate houses the entirety of the UK’s national art collection. Admission is free for the majority of the gallery space, but temporary exhibitions tend to require a ticket prior to entry.
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum has the world’s largest collection of art and design, with permanent exhibitions of over 2 million objects. Along with the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, it is one of the three major museums found on Exhibition Road.
With over 140 galleries highlighting over 5,000 years of art history, the ‘V&A’ Museum covers a range of cultures from Europe, America, Asia, and Africa. From Renaissance sculptures to Islamic textiles, the V&A’s collection is as extensive as it gets.