Top Free Museums in London
London is home to numerous museums that you are never far from one in the city. The museums range from the lesser known to some of the best and famous institutions in the world. London is overwhelmed with over 170 museums that include museums dedicated to history, natural history, science, transportation, military, decorative designs, cartoons, fashion and so many more. The best thing about London is that admissions to the most popular museums are free to the public.
Below is a description of the five most popular museums in London to explore. These museums are conveniently accessible from several London commuter train stations.
The British Museum is a five-star museum located in a huge grand building located at Great Russell Street in Bloomsbury. The museum is a short 10 minutes walk from the London Underground Tottenham Court Road Station and Holborn Station. The British Museum opens daily throughout the week but closes for the Christmas holidays from 24th to 26th December. Most visitors take 3-4 hours to explore the museum but longer for those with deeper interest.
The British Museum is a fascinating museum dedicated to the history of human civilisation, arts and culture. The museum opened to the public in 1759 and home to a collection of historical artefacts from the Stone Age, Bronze Age and past civilisations including ancient Greece, Egypt, Rome, Byzantine, Assyria and Babylon. There are also exhibits from the Medieval and the Renaissance periods as well as from East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas.
The museum comprises of several themed galleries organised according to a specific period or location in history. Outside of Egypt, the British Museum is home to the largest collection of artefacts from ancient Egypt and the most popular exhibits are the Egyptian mummies and coffins! The museum is also home to one of the largest collections from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. Exhibits from the Middle East include the Assyrian, Babylonian and Sumerian civilisations and the Islamic world. European collections include during the Roman rule of Britain, Early Medieval, Medieval, Renaissance and the modern era.
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is magnificent museum housed in a huge 19th century Gothic building located at Cromwell Road. The museum is a short distance from the London Underground South Kensington Station and slightly further (15 minutes walk) from Gloucester Road Station. The Natural History Museum opens throughout the week but closes from 24th to 26th December for the Christmas holidays. The museum comprises of four zones and each zone takes 1-2 hours to complete a visit.
The Natural History Museum is a large museum explaining the history of our natural world. The museum comprises of five areas of collection that include botany, zoology, entomology, mineralogy and palaeontology. Exhibits include fossils, skeletons, plant and zoological specimens, minerals, gems, rocks and even animatronics. Some of the exhibits are of scientific as well as historical value such as collections by Charles Darwin, the famous 19th century naturalist and geologist.
The Natural History Museum comprises of four colour zones that include the Blue, Green, Red and Orange Zones - within each zone are several themed galleries. The most popular zone is the Blue Zone exploring the diversity of life including dinosaurs, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and human biology. The Green Zone explores a broad range of subjects including minerals, gems, rocks, insect specimens, fossils and birds. The Red Zone is about the various forces that shape the geology of our planet. The Orange Zone comprises of only two themed galleries that include the Darwin Centre and Wildlife Garden.
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum is a decorative arts and design museum located at Cromwell Road in London. The nearest London Underground station from the museum is South Kensington Station and slightly further is Gloucester Road Station. A pedestrian subway connects South Kensington Station near the museum’s main entrance. The Victoria and Albert Museum opens daily throughout the week but closes for three days from 24th to 25th December.
The Victoria and Albert Museum is the world's largest museum for decorative arts and design with a comprehensive collection totalling over 6.5 million. The museum’s collections span over various cultures and periods from Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa. Collections include ceramics, glass, textiles, costumes, silver, metalwork, jewellery, furniture, medieval objects, sculpture, prints and printmaking, drawings and photographs.
The Victoria and Albert Museum comprises of 16 display areas divided into themed galleries totalling over 140. The galleries include 15 British themed galleries covering designs from 1500 to 1900. The museum has one the world’s largest collection of decorative art from Asia with over 160,000 items dating from the 7th century to the early 20th century. The Costume Exhibits total over 14,000 outfits and accessories from the 17th century to the present. Other exhibits include furniture from the Middle Ages, textile from the 1st century to the present and jewellery from Ancient Egypt, Africa and Asia.
The Science Museum is the most popular science museum in London and in fact, the most visited in the UK. This popular science museum opened in 1857 and located at Exhibition Road and actually nearby the Victoria and Albert Museum. The nearest London Underground station is South Kensington Station and slightly further is Gloucester Road Station. The museum opens to the public throughout the week but closes from 24th to 26th December for the Christmas holidays.
The seven-floor museum has over 300,000 items related to the world of science in its collection. The museum comprises of several fascinating themed galleries dedicated to engineering, energy, communications, digital technology, flight, space, bioscience and the environment. Besides the exhibits, there are also hundreds of interactive exhibits and an IMAX 3D cinema screening interesting documentaries about the world of science and nature.
Interesting exhibits at the Science Museum include James Watt steam engine built in 1777 and an early steam locomotive designed by Robert Stephenson in 1829. Space buffs will love the fascinating exhibits of rockets, satellites, landers and probes. There is a replica of the Apollo 10 spacecraft and a full-sized replica of the Eagle lander (Apollo 11), which took Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the Moon in 1969. Other interesting exhibits include several full sized aircrafts, 1926 experimental television receiver, 1962 replica of a Telstar I satellite and Watson and Crick’s double helix DNA model.
Royal Museums Greenwich
Royal Museums Greenwich comprises of four museums in London’s Greenwich located on the southern banks of the River Thames. To get to here, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) stops at Greenwich Station and Cutty Sark Station situated in the centre of Greenwich. There are also boats under the London River Services stopping at Greenwich Pier. The four museums open throughout the week but close from 24th to 26th December for the Christmas holidays.
Royal Museums Greenwich comprises of the National Maritime Museum, Queen’s House, Royal Observatory Greenwich and the Cutty Sark. Admission to the National Maritime Museum and Queen’s House is free but there is an admission fee for the Royal Observatory Greenwich and Cutty Sark. You may want to consider whether to spend your money on the Royal Observatory Greenwich and Cutty Sark or just visit the free National Maritime Museum and Queen’s House.
The National Maritime Museum is the heart of the Royal Museums Greenwich, which is devoted to maritime and navigational history. The museum is the largest of its kind in the UK and a treasure trove of maritime artefacts including navigational and scientific instruments, maps, flags, uniforms and memorabilia. There are more than 20 rooms at the Queen’s House with over 450 paintings and portraits from the 17th to 20th centuries by British and European artists.
The Royal Observatory Greenwich was the old royal observatory and the location of the prime meridian from where Greenwich Mean Time gets its name. Commissioned by King Charles II in 1675, the observatory once played an important role in astronomy and navigation. The Cutty Sark was a British tea clipper built in 1869 and was once the fastest sailing ship in world. Visitors can board the ship and explore the captain’s cabin, crew’s quarters and the deck.
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