How to spend a free day museum-hopping around London | The world, for free
They say great art is priceless.
And while there are two ways to interpret that, thankfully ol’ Johnny Government took it to mean that it should all be absolutely free. Which London’s best museums absolutely are.
So here’s how to spend a day hopping the very best ones, all without spending a (non-urine related) penny.
We start at:
The Science Museum | Never trust an atom. They make up everything. If you didn’t already know that then you’re in for an educational experience whilst you “see, touch and experience” science. It’s fantastic for kids, but there are several floors of more grownup science to quench your thirst for knowledge, too.
Details: Exhibition Road, Kensington, SW7 2DD
We then take a brief, twelve second walk down the street to:
The Natural History Museum | The early bird catches the worm – and dinosaurs, blue whales and four-million-year-old spiders. Get to this one early in the day and you might just miss the hordes. And once you’re inside, try to avoid the deep temptation to head straight to the dinosaurs; there’s a whole slew of fascinating, and under visited areas beyond that.
Details: Cromwell Rd, Kensington, SW7 5BD
We take a slightly longer, one minute walk down the same road now, to
Victoria & Albert Museum | Current exhibitions include a brief history of underwear and a display all about Glastonbury Festival – most exhibits are temporary so check beforehand to see if anything takes your fancy.
Details: Cromwell Road, Knightsbridge, SW7 2RL
NOTE: Some areas of the museum require a paid ticket.
We’re jumping on the tube at South Ken now, for a two-stop journey to Hyde Park Corner and,
The Vault at the Hard Rock Café | Didn’t expect this one? Down a flight of stairs inside the Hard Rock Café shop is an old Coutts & Co Bank vault, where you’ll find Elvis Presley’s coat and Madonna’s (old) credit cards. Free guided tours run every twenty minutes and for a small fee you may even get to hold one of the priceless guitars. Rock on.
Details: Old Park Lane, Mayfair, W1K 1QZ
From here, head to Holborn Station, find bus stop N, and jump on the next 59 heading south. Because we’re going to,
The Imperial War Museum | With exhibitions spanning from the First World War to the current ‘War on Terror’, there’s enough to fascinate you for the whole day. But we don’t have all day. So just get the bullet points.
Details: Lambeth Road, Lambeth, SE1 6HZ
Now, a brief stroll to Green Park station, where the Victoria Line will whisk us to Warren Street and,
The Grant Museum of Zoology | It turns out it’s quite tricky to bring extinct species back to life, so it seems preserving them in fluid is our only option. Based at the University College of London, this exhibition houses around 68,000 specimens, some more gross/fascinating than others.
Details: University Street, Fitzrovia, WC1E 6DE
From here, it should only take 10 minutes to walk to,
British Museum | This is not only one of the world’s oldest museums (founded in 1753), but also one of the world’s largest, with roughly 8 million artifacts. So many, they’re not even sure of the exact number. And once again, it’s FREE.
Details: Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG
Now, *another* 10 minute walk gets us to,
The Hunterian Museum | Preserved tumours, skeletons with syphilis, and Churchill’s dentures. Next-level Halloween decorations, and a few of the exhibits to be seen at the Royal College of Surgeons. A free curator-led guided tour is held every Wednesday at 1pm, but reserve a place to avoid disappointment.
Details: Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2A 3PE
NOTE: Hurry, The Hunterian Museum is closing in Spring 2017 for a full refurbishment until summer 2020.
Literally around the corner, we come to,
London Silver Vaults | Shhh…this one’s technically not a museum. Don’t tell anyone. Just take in the splendour of the world’s largest silver store. Discreetly hidden beneath Chancery Lane and behind solid iron doors – much of the collection is owned by jewellers and available for purchase. But then this tour would not be free.
Details: Chancery Lane, WC2A 1QS
Time to jump on the Central Line at Chancery Lane, and head one stop to St. Pauls, where we find,
The Museum of London | Explore London before it was London, before black cabs, red buses, grey buildings and rain. There was probably still rain, but you get the idea. Themed exhibits are a key draw of the Museum of London and this Christmas children can visit Santa in his Victorian grotto where they will sing carols and receive a ‘gift’ (for a small fee).
Details: London Wall, Barbican, EC2Y 5HN
NOTE: The Museum of London also have a site at West India Quay, E14 4AL, where they exhibit galleries based on the history and importance of the London Docklands.
Now we come to one of the longer parts of our journey – jump on the 242 bus at St. Paul’s bus stop SY, heading to Homerton. Jump out at,
The Geffrye Museum | This is time travel made possible as you explore living rooms from the last four centuries, the rise of domestic technology and our growing love for household pets. There’s even a gallery of 26 London teenager’s bedrooms.
Details: Kingsland Road, Hoxton, E2 8EA
Now it’s time to head to the Overground platform at Hoxton station, change at Whitechpel, and go two stops on the District Line to Mile End. Where we find the gloriously named,
Ragged School Museum | Take part in a Victorian lesson in a real Victorian classroom run by an actor in full Victorian costume. Pray that the discipline techniques aren’t Victorian too.
Details: Copperfield Road, Mile End, E3 4RR
NOTE: The Ragged School Museum is only open on Wednesday’s and Thursday’s between 10am and 5pm, and between 2pm and 5pm on the first Sunday of each month.
A quick walk to Limehouse gets us to the DLR, and Cutty Sark station, home of:
The National Maritime Museum | It’s also the world’s largest maritime museum, with a vast amount of art, artefacts and attractions from Britain’s history at sea, including Admiral Nelson’s coat from the Battle of Trafalgar.
Details: Park Row, Greenwich, SE10 9NF
NOTE: We know this is all about a free day out …but please acknowledge that many of these museums and exhibits rely entirely on donations from the public in order to stay open, so feel free to give any amount possible when visiting.