The 3 Most Popular Museums in London

The 3 Most Popular Museums in London

When on a holiday in London, you will never be far from national museums with exhibits ranging from ancient history to modern art. There are over 170 museums in London and some of them are the finest in the world.

London is an expensive city for luxury travel. One of the best things to do in London is to visit any of their world-renowned museums. Since 2001, entry to all state museums is free. London is a haven for museum lovers and a visit to this capital city of the United Kingdom is never complete without taking a trip to one of their most popular museums. 

1. The British Museum

Of the many museums in London, The British Museum stands out. It is the most popular, oldest, and biggest cultural attraction. It is also one of the many free attractions in London. 

The British Museum is housed in one of the architectural landmarks in London. It spans over 900,000 square feet in the Bloomsbury area making it the most potent and biggest museum in London. 

How old is it?

The British Museum was founded in 1753 through the British Museum Act (an Act of Parliament). This Act of Parliament provided for the establishment of a lottery to raise £300,000 to build the museum. 

This museum houses the collection of Sir Hans Sloane. Born to a rich family in Ireland, Sir Hans Sloane collected over 71,000 items throughout his travels around the world. It opened its doors to the public in 1759.

What’s inside? 

The British Museum, through the years, has a vast collection of treasures. Inside the museum, you will find separate wings for Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, Asian Egypt, Europe, the Americas, Asia, and the Middle East spread across its three-floor edifice. 

The collection of culture in the British Museum spans over two million years of history. With the large galleries that house these artifacts, it can take you months to see everything in this museum. 

The vast collection of artifacts in this museum includes:

  • Rosetta Stone which dates back to the 196 BC  
  • Egyptian Mummies
  • Parthenon sculptures
  • The controversial Elgin Marbles which was bought by the British government in 1816 
  • The Lewis Chessmen, the most famous chess set in the world 
  • Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs
  • Ancient art and armor
  • Ancient Coins and Jewelry

The British Museum attracts over 6million visitors a year. It is open from 10-am-5pm Sundays to Thursdays and until 8:30 pm on Fridays. 

2. Imperial War Museum London

The Imperial War Museum is a place where you can experience the influences of war in the world. The Imperial War Museums is a British national museum organization found in five locations across England, three of which are in London. 

When on an adventure travel in London, you can visit the Imperial War Museum in southern London.  It is located on an edifice that was once a hospital.

How old is it?

The Imperial War Museum was founded in 1917. It was intended to record the sacrifices and military war efforts of Britain during World War I. It opened its doors to the public in 1920 and in 1936 it was moved to the former Bethlem Royal Hospital in Southwark.

What’s in it?

A visit to London is not complete without visiting the six-floor Imperial War Museum. It showcases a vast collection of official documents, videos, photographs, aircraft, military weapons, and military vehicles. 

Some of its notable exhibits include:

  • The First World War Galleries includes over 1300 artifacts including uniforms, weapons, films, keepsakes, and artworks.
  • The Holocausts feature artifacts, photos, films, documents, and other significant objects from this historic event.
  • The Turning Points include items from World War II (1934 – 1945).
  • Witnesses of War is an exhibit featuring 9 important objects that had major roles in historic battles including a Spitfire plane, V-2 rocket, a T-34 tank, and more.
  • The Curiosities of War is a gallery housing unusual war items spanning 100 years of the British Military history. 
  • Peace and Security is an exhibit of the conflicts and battles in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo from 1945 – 2015. 
  • The Lord Ashcroft Gallery shows the heroic and bravest people who fought for Great Britain. 

The Imperial War Museum is open 7 days a week from10 am-6 pm. Admission is free. It will usually take 2-3 hours to cover the entire museum. 

3. Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum is the largest museum of decorative and applied arts and design as well as sculptures in the world. Located in Cromwell Road, London, Victoria and Albert Museum includes a collection of 2.27 million objects.  The entrance to this museum is free. 

The Victoria and Albert Museum is located in the Brompton district of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. This area has come to be known as the Albertopolis” because of its close association with Prince Albert and the Albert Memorial as well as all the major institutions he was associated with including the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport.

The Victoria and Albert Museum is the most glamorous museum in London. It is housed in a magnificent red-brick palace adorned with frescos, extravagant tiling, and sculptural details

The Victoria and Albert Museum has a branch in Bethnal Green in East London, The V & A Museum of Childhood showcases objects for and by children. This museum is home to the finest children’s toys, games, dollhouses, and costumes in the world. 

Some portions of the Victoria and Albert Museum have been amassing its childhood-related items since 1872. It continues to increase its collection to include Barbie Dolls, puppets, and Victorian praxinoscopes.

How old is it?

The Victoria and Albert Museum was founded in 1852. It is named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. 

What’s in it?

The Victoria and Albert Museum houses a permanent collection of close to 2.4 million objects spanning over 5,000 years of human life. This museum covers 12.5 acres and includes 145 galleries.

 The museum includes:

  • Resources for the study of architecture, textiles, fashion, furniture, sculpture, photography, glass, jewelry, ceramics, theater and performance, book arts, and Asian art and design
  • The museum’s collection is divided into the theater, fashion, architecture, and furniture spanning several thousands of years. 
  • Art collections from Europe, Asia, North America, and North Africa
  • East Asian collections including metalwork and ceramics which are the best in Europe.
  • The Department of Asia includes art collections from China, South Asia, Korea, Japan, and the Islamic world.
  • Includes art collections spanning over 5,000 from ancient times up to the present day.
  • The largest collection of post-classical sculpture 
  • Largest Italian Renaissance items outside Italy.
  • The largest Islamic art collection in the Western world. 

The museum underwent a £150m renovation program and opened in December 2015. Among the new additions included the European galleries which included 17th and 18th-century items. The renovation program also included the restoration of the original Aston Webb interiors and many of the 1600-1815 European collections. 

It takes about three hours to explore the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is, however, wiser to make a couple of trips to the museum tackling about two galleries in each visit. The museum also has seasonal exhibits.

 These museums are often included in many London travel packages.