The Six Best Museums in London

by MaxPower

Not everyone has the chance to go to London; however, everyone should try to go at least once if only for the museums. London has over 200 museums which attract over 30 million people to visit them every year.

Accordingly I have put together a handy package of information regarding each of the major museums in London, including both their websites and basic directions to the museums if you’d be taking public transit. It goes without saying that any of London’s excellent ‘Black Cab’ drivers would be more than happy to drop you off at any of these museums’ door! Since many of the museums are within a very small radius in central London this guide would be great for those with long layovers at either Heathrow or Gatwick (take the Heathrow or Gatwick Express train into central London to save some coin – cabs could run you 40 or 50 pounds for the trip)

The British Museum (Tube Station: Bloomsbury)

Located in Central London is the British Museum (Nearest Tube:Tottenham Court Road & Russell Square) It became a world class destination by being the destination for all of the treasures accumulated by the British Empire. Key exhibits include the Egyptian Hall, Reading Room – home to many great manuscripts and where many important historical figures studied, the Elgin Marbles and the Magna Carta which is often thought of as the corner-stone of liberty and the chief defense against arbitrary and unjust rule. It is a series of concessions wrung from the unwilling King John by his rebellious barons in 1215.

Another copy is in Salisbury Cathedral, with the highest church spire in England is a great destination for a day trip. As well as the Runnymeade on the Thames just west of Heathrow where the Magna Carta was actually signed (Train Station: Egham – from Waterloo Station)

Admission: Free

The Imperial War Museum (Tube: Southwark)

Built in the building which used to be the Bedlam Mental Institution. It is by no means a glorification of war with many exhibits showing exactly what war was like throughout the ages.

Collections include: The First World War, The Second World War, Conflicts Since 1945 (including Korea, Vietnam, Middle East, the Falklands), the Secret War (espionage, covert operations and special forces) and the ‘Large Exhibits Gallery’ with tanks, aircraft, missiles, submarines and other full size actual military pieces.

Admission: Free

The National Gallery [Trafalgar Square] (Tube: Charing Cross)

Called ‘one of the greatest exhibits of European paintings in the world’ and the Gallery really lives up to its title. The National Gallery itself houses Western European paintings from 1260-1900, including works by Picasso, Monet, Manet, Van Gogh (his ‘Sunflowers’ painting must be seen to be believed). Rotating special exhibitions showcase different artists for a couple months at a time. Be sure to check out the Gift Shop which has excellent and reasonably priced souvenirs from National Gallery artworks.

Be sure to visit Trafalgar square with great views of the surrounding architecture, the Parliament buildings and for Canadian’s – Canada House.

Admission: Free

The Tate Britain (Tube: Pimlico or Victoria Station)

‘The Tate Britain is the national gallery of British art from 1500 to the present day’, so this is the counterpart to the National Gallery, (which does have some British artists – like Turner. While not AS interesting as the National Gallery – if you have time for only one – check out the National Gallery this is still worth a visit. If this was in any other city – it would be THE premier gallery, but it doesn’t inspire as much when compared to the British Museum and National Gallery.

Admission: Free

The Tate Modern (Tube: Blackfriars or Tower Bridge)

The national collection of 20th-century art is held at Tate Modern, so it compliments the other two art museums mentioned (the British artists are at the Tate Britain and European artists are at the National Gallery). Extremely interesting, is housed in the old Bankside powerplant and has outstanding views of the Thames and St. Paul’s Cathedral, try dining in the cafe for reasonably priced food with 5 star views! Includes such artists as Picasso, Matisse, Warhol and Dali. A personal favorite of mine.

Admission: Free

The Natural History (Tube: Kensington)

Housed in one of the most impressive buildings in London, England, the Museum is very close to South Kensington underground station and Victoria Train station. It is actually a museum and centre for research, this is a must see for families and is extremely child friendly. Make sure to see the ‘Wonders and Ecology’ exhibits, as well as the full size ‘blue whale’ suspended from the ceiling and the ‘Earthquake experience’. Kids will love the Creepy Crawlies and Investigate exhibits!

Admission: Free

Here are 6 world class museums the likes of which can only be matched by a few select institutions such as the Louve in Paris and the Smithsonian in Washington DC, but in this case, entry to all of these exhibits is free! There is a good 2 – 3 days of museum going here and I would not recommend more than 3 museums in a day (and that is stretching it). If you’re in London you can not miss these institutions, one can only say so much about them, and you just have to see them!

  • The Six Best Museums in London
  • by MaxPower
  • Published on September 1st, 2003
Great Britain
10 / 10

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