London is a city of contrasts. Towering modern glass structures stand proudly next to centuries-old churches, towers, theatres and pubs. The city is home to people from all walks of life and from all over the world. It’s a global financial hub, but it’s also a place with a rich history and is often thought of as the UK’s top cultural hotspot.
THE 9 BEST MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES IN LONDON
If you want to get your teeth into some of the city’s culture, here are 9 of the best museums and galleries to visit in London where you can do exactly that.
The British Museum
The British Museum is home to one of the world’s most impressive collections of historical artefacts. The museum displays about 80,000 objects but is home to more than 8 million pieces that span a 2-million-year period. Highlights include the Rosetta Stone, the (pretty controversial) Elgin Marbles, an incredible collection of Egyptian mummies, and a range of artefacts found at the Sutton Hoo ship burial.
World-class exhibitions take place across the year, but entry to the main museum collection is free.
The Natural History Museum
London’s Natural History Museum is one of the world’s leading centres for studies of natural history, and a visit to this vast museum makes for an entertaining and educational day out. Enter into the Central Hall to see the famous blue whale skeleton, which hangs from the ceiling to show off its magnificent size.
As well as its daily opening times, the museum offers after-hours visits throughout the year, and evening events take place with music, food and dancing. It’s a great way to explore the museum without the usual crowds.
Including works by some of modern and contemporary art’s best-respected figures – Picasso, Matisse, Dalí, Rothko – this free-entry museum is housed in a vast building that was once a power station. Even if the art itself doesn’t interest you (modern art isn’t for everyone, let’s be honest!), it’s worth going up to the observation deck for sweeping views across the city and the River Thames.
Another string to the Tate network’s bow, Tate Britain showcases the best that British art has to offer, from the 1500s to the present day. Artists on display here include William Blake, J. M. W. Turner, John Constable, Anna Lea Merritt and David Hockney. It’s also the site of the annual Turner Prize exhibition.
It’s a great place to visit if you prefer to look at a wide range of artistic styles. There’s something here to suit every taste.
The Science Museum
The Science Museum is an amazing place to take the kids. As well as the main displays, there are plenty of interactive rooms with hands-on activities to keep your children learning and having fun. If you’re not sure where to start, consider taking the free ‘highlights’ tour to make sure you’re seeing the best of the museum’s offerings.
The Victoria and Albert Museum
The V&A calls itself ‘the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance’, and the wide range of objects it has on display always makes for an interesting visit. With 7 miles of gallery space, there’s plenty to keep you busy, and the exhibitions put on here address a huge variety of themes.
Whether you’re interested in painting, print, photography, fashion design or even tapestry, the V&A will keep you and your family entertained for hours.
The National Gallery
Trafalgar Square’s iconic National Gallery is a total powerhouse. With over 2,000 paintings on display, including big hitters like Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Botticelli’s Venus and Mars, Monet’s Water-Lily Pond and Cézanne’s Bathers, the National is home to some of the world’s most famous paintings.
Visit in the morning to avoid the worst of the crowds, or head there on a Friday night to make the most of its later closing time.
The National Portrait Gallery
Just around the corner from the National Gallery sits what’s often thought of as its sister, the National Portrait Gallery. As its name suggests, this gallery contains only portraiture. It was the first gallery in the world dedicated specifically to this medium, and it houses famous paintings of monarchs, writers, politicians, artists and other well-known figures. You can also visit a photography collection that has over a quarter of a million photos on display.
The museum is currently closed for renovation until 2023, but add it to your bucket list and visit when its doors reopen to the public.
The Royal Academy of Arts
The RA is one of the West End’s cultural hubs, and it has an emphasis on promoting up-and-coming artists as well as a great respect for more traditional artistic media. With a varied collection that includes paintings, drawings, sculptures and more, it offers both free displays and ticketed exhibitions.
Don’t miss the 8-metre-long copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, thought to have been painted by his students, or Michelangelo’s Taddei Tondo, the only sculpture by the Renaissance great on display in the UK.
Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in art, science or history, London is home to some of the best museums on the planet. No trip to Britain’s capital would be complete without a visit to at least one of these world-class institutions, so plan your trip today.