Natural History Museum - Marc Lamy/Unsplash
Neil Frame 09/01/22
The Best Museums in London | Dinosaurs, Space Exploration and Mummies
London has a museum for pretty much everything.
So consider this your own personally curated collection of all the best museums in London – covering the realms of flora, fauna, design, science, history and culture. Amongst its treasures, London has the most visited modern art gallery in the world; the original manuscripts of Charles Dickens, Virginia Wolf and Jack Kerouac; mummies; 2300 artworks tracing the complete development of Western European painting; a museum dedicated solely to the tube system of London; flight simulators; earthquake simulators; and homages to the world’s finest thinkers in restored Georgian townhouses.
So behold, our picks of the best museums in London –
London’s landmark animal and natural phenomena museum, houses a rotating collection of approximately 22 million insect and plant specimens, the UK’s most prodigious dinosaur display, an escalator ascending into the core of Earth itself, and most importantly, a life-sized model of a foetus in a womb. Which means you can also observe unsuspecting parents having ‘the talk’.
NHM Lates: Usually held the last Thursday of every month, with themed cocktails, pop up science stations, film screenings, silent discos and more. They appear to be on hold for the moment, but there’s plenty of other one-off after-hours events, including dinosaur sleepovers & silent discos beneath a giant whale skeleton, here.
Details: Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD | Free entry, exhibitions from £14 | More info
Not just one of the best museums in London but also the world’s largest collection of decorative arts and design, comprised of more than 150 separate galleries over seven floors of furniture, ceramics, sculpture, paintings, posters, jewellery, metalwork, glass, textiles, dress, architecture and photography spanning several centuries. Plus it’s home to the beautiful William Morris tearoom and a water-filled courtyard; both excellent spots for a scone break.
V&A Lates: The V&A was originally open late to tempt the public towards culture instead of the gin palace. Nowadays, they open their doors on the last Friday of every month (except March & Dec), with DJs, performance artists, talks, workshops and screenings… and gin.
Details: Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL | Free entry, exhibitions from £12 | More info
One of the world’s oldest museums of history and culture, grown from the collection of one man who was interested in everything. Exhibitions include abstractions like life, death and mythology, while major exhibits include the Rosetta Stone, the Lindow Man, the Lewis Chessmen and the Sutton Hoo ship burial. And mummies. They have mummies.
British Museum Lates: every Friday night, the museum stays open till 8.30pm, with short gallery tours, talks, bars and street food trucks in the courtyard.
Details: Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG | Free entry, visiting exhibitions from £14 | More info
170 million items and 330 miles of shelf space make The British Library one of the biggest museums in London. It also hosts regular, curated exhibitions based around its rare collections; including displays of the original manuscripts of Charles Dickens, Virginia Wolf, Jack Kerouac, Lewis Carroll and varying instalments of maps, sacred texts, newspaper and sound archives.
Details: 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB | Free entry, exhibitions from £14 | More info
Love The Science Museum. That’s an order. Because it’s filled with everything you know about, but probably don’t really know about. Like exhibitions on space exploration with the Apollo 10 command module; a flight simulator; a three-metre-high, 600kg Spacelab 2 X-ray telescope; an immersive VR descent from space with astronaut Tim Peake; and displays on developments in contemporary psychological science, medicine, climate and 3D printing. And an IMAX theatre. Thank God for Science.
Science Museum Lates: the last Wednesday of every month, showcasing lectures from leading academics, comedy shows, silent discos, workshops and cocktails.
Details: Exhibition Road, SW7 2DD | Free entry, some exhibitions from £15 | More info & book ahead
Tate Britain is a temple to the work of British artists over the past 500 years, with a vast collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, two rooms of Henry Moore sculptures, a free picture library filled with rare and fragile sketches from major artists, and a restaurant with a mural by Rex Whistler.
Late at Tate Britain: On the first Friday of every month, Tate Collective Producers curate an evening exploring a different abstract theme, with a little help from DJs, activists, artists and more.
Details: Millbank, SW1P 4RG | Free entry, exhibitions from £16 | More info
1824: The première of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9; the Egyptians capture Crete; ‘New Holland’ becomes ‘Australia’; some government guys in Britain bought 38 paintings. Now: Beethoven’s no longer in the charts, Australia still has an identity crisis, and The National Gallery is one of the biggest art museums in London, with over 2,300 works tracing the complete development of Western European painting from virtually every European school of art.
Details: Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN | Free entry, exhibitions from £24 | More info
Tate Modern is the most-visited modern art gallery in the world, partly because it holds the national collection of British art from 1900 to the present day, as well as international modern and contemporary art, but mainly because the 6th floor members’ cafe has one of London’s best views. Which is like art in itself, man.
Tate Lates: After-hours events on the last Friday of every month, featuring free music, art, performance, fashion shows, workshops and film screenings.
Details: Bankside, SE1 9TG | Free entry, exhibitions from | More info
One of the best museums in London about London, The London Transport Museum traces the history of London’s Tube, Bus and Cab systems, and equally as importantly – considers its future.
LTM Lates: A regular series of late-night themed openings during which you can explore the exhibitions, take part in workshops, and listen to experts and speakers while sipping cocktails.
Details: Covent Garden Piazza, WC2E 7BB | Annual tickets from £18.50 | More info
Sir John Soane’s Museum: 45,000 odd objects. 30,000 architectural drawings. 80 visitors at a time. 3 floors. 1 Georgian townhouse.
Soane Candlelight Nights: A monthly programme of stonkingly atmospheric candlelit late openings, events, tours and more.
Details: 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2A 3BP | Free entry, but book ahead
Want to know what’s on at these London museums? Check out our exhibitions guide
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