The Best Museums In London
Last Updated: 7th January 2019
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; and homages to the world’s finest thinkers in reclaimed Georgian townhouses.
So behold, our picks of the best museums in London –
The Natural History Museum | South Kensington
London’s landmark animal and natural phenomena museum displays a rotating collection of approximately 22 million insect and plant specimens, the UK’s most prodigious dinosaur display, and most importantly, a life-sized model of a foetus in a womb. Which means you can also observe unsuspecting parents having ‘the talk’. READ MORE
NHM Lates: the last Friday of every month, including themed cocktails, pop up science stations, film screenings, silent discos and more.
Details: Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD | Free entry
The Victoria & Albert Museum | South Kensington
Not just one of the best museums in London but also the world’s largest collection of decorative arts and design, the V&A is 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.
V&A Lates: the last Friday of every month except May & December, showcasing DJs, performance artists, talks, workshops and screenings as well as a range of food and drinks available from the V&A Cafe.
Details: Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL | Free entry
The Science Museum | South Kensington
Love this. 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
The British Museum | Holborn
One of the world’s oldest museums of history and culture. Exhibitions include abstractions like life and death and showcases of Ancient Iran, the prehistory of Europe, the Middle East, the Rosetta Stone, Lindow Man, the Lewis Chessmen and the Sutton Hoo ship burial. And mummies. They have mummies.
British Museum Lates: every Friday night, with events taking place on the second Friday of the month including free tours, live music and performances ranging from stand-up comedy to Shakespeare.
Details: Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG | Free entry
The British Library | Euston
170 million items and 330 miles of shelf space make this not only one of the best museums in London, but also one of the biggest. 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
The National Gallery | Trafalgar Square
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 has over 2,300 works tracing the complete development of Western European painting from virtually every European school of art. And a café.
National Gallery Lates: every Friday night until 9pm, including life drawing classes, live music, late exhibition openings, a free 60-minute taster tour that examines five to six paintings in detail.
Details: Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN | Free entry
TATE Modern | Bankside
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.
Late at TATE: On the first Friday of the month, the Tate Collectives group plan unique events which have, in the past, featured free music, art, performance, fashion shows and films.
Details: Bankside, SE1 9TG | Free entry
The London Transport Museum | Covent Garden
One of the best museums in London about London, LTM traces the history of London’s Tube, Bus and Cab systems, and equally as importantly – considers its future. READ MORE
LTM Lates: A 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 £17.50 (small discount online)
Sir John Soane’s Museum | Holborn
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 – find out more HERE.
Details: 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2A 3BP | Free entry
Image: British Museum/Viktor Forgacs
After something slightly quirkier? Try our excellent guide to unusual museums in London.