London is known as one of the most popular destinations for tourists from all over the world. One of the reasons is because of the richness of art collection. This treasury of art has a lot of museums in the city. Do you know that you can enjoy almost all of them by free admission? Because of a bunch of attractive spots, it is difficult to visit all the interesting museums in London during a tight schedule. In this article, we will introduce the must-visit museums during the trip to London.
One of the most famous museums in the world, the British Museum, is opened in 1759 as the first national public museum. In the huge building, they exhibit about 150 thousand works which cover all fields of 2 million years of human history and culture. The British Museum is one of the biggest museum in the world. To avoid getting lost, you might want to take a floor plan. At the entrance, you will find 2 kinds of maps, black & white or color. The black & white one is free, but the colored one is charged.
In the British Museum, you can find Egyptian mummy collection, Moai status from Easter island and Greek Parthenon sculptures which were said "stolen" from the original place. The Rosetta stone, one of the most famous exhibit in the British Museum in the photo above, became a key for the decryption of Egyptian hieroglyphics. On the surface of it, you can find long texts which are written in 3 languages. You might have a great time by feeling various legendary history while watching them.
Thanks to the richness of the collection, it was often visited by famous French artists of the 19th and the 20th centuries, such as Pablo Picasso, André Derain who got inspiration from the exhibit for "primitivism art".
Since the museum is huge, it is better to decide in advance which collections you will see. During the visit, you can take a tea time break with authentic scones and British tea at cafés in the museum. After discovering the exhibition, you cannot miss the souvenir shop. There you can find the famous duck dolls in Egyptian decorations, Rosetta stone USB keys, stylish tote bags, Japanese style interior goods, and so on. Find some unique gifts for your friends or family.
Address: The British Museum Great Russell St London WC1B 3DG
Transportation: Underground Central line or Northen line, Tottenham Court Road station
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 10:00-17:30 / Friday until 20:30 / Closed on 1st January, 24th-26th December
Admission fee: Free (Some exhibitions are charged)
The National Gallery is located in Trafalgar Square which is in the heart of London. It houses the UK’s national collection of 2,000 paintings. The art museum was founded in 1824 at another place when the government bought 38 paintings. In 1838, it was opened to the public in the current place with the Neoclassical architecture. The National Gallery is specialized in European paintings. There are masterpieces that are the most comprehensive for art history.
The photo above is one of Monet's waterlilies. As Monet spent a period in London and learned the beauty of British landscape paintings, you might feel the British essence from colorful shadows or strictly balanced angle. Besides Monet, Leonardo Da Vinci's The Virgin of the Rock, Vermeer's A Young Woman Standing at a Virginal, Van Gogh's Sunflowers are also not to miss!
You can bring back the artistic spirit by getting a small gift from souvenir shops. Monet’s delicate impressionist style tote bags, scarfs, or Van Gogh’s sunflowers designed stationaries would be nice. The National Gallery is not as big as the British Museum. 2 hours might be enough to see around. Inside the National Gallery, it is not that easy to find the right way. However, artworks are categorized by genre and period, so you can easily find the painting that you want to see in the map while walking around. As the National Gallery is one of the most popular touristic attractions in London, sometimes you have to wait in a queue to enter. To avoid the long waiting time, we recommend visiting there at 10:00 or after 16:00. The floor map is free but better to give a donation of £1.
Address: Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
Transportation: Underground Southeastern line Charing Cross station /Northern line or Picadilly line Leicester Square station
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 10:00-18:00 / Friday until 21:00 / Closed on 1st January, 24th-26th December
Admission fee: Free (Some exhibitions are charged)
The Tate Modern is one of the iconic modern architecture in London. The former power station was transformed into a gallery and opened in 2000. That’s why the building looks like a factory with a chimney in the center. The Tate Modern consists of two buildings, Boiler House(South building) and Switch House(North building). The Tate Modern attracted numerous people from all over the world since its open and became one of the UK’s top tourist attractions.
The Tate Modern is a gallery that is specialized for international modern and contemporary art. You will find artworks like Monet or Degas’s impressionist and post-impressionist art, 20th-century art of Picasso, Matisse, Dali, interesting contemporary installation art and so on. Artworks are exhibited in its special way in Tate Modern. It categorizes them by specific themes, for example subjects of artworks or relationships between art and society, so you can find exhibits of the same theme from various periods in one room.
On the 10th floor of Switch House, there is an observation space with sofas and drinks. You can see the beautiful view of London with St. Paul's Cathedral and the Thames river. Do not miss the stunning night view of London from there. The souvenir shop is also known for stylish gifts such as T-shirts, bags, postcards, magazines and so on.
Address: Bankside, London SE1 9TG
Transportation: Underground Circle line or District line Blackfriars station / Jubilee line or Northen line London Bridge station
Opening Hours: Sun-Thur 10:00-18:00 / Fri-Sat until 22:00
Admission fee: Free
In all these 3 museums, free WiFi is available, so you can check information or plan the next destination before you go out. Almost all British museums are organized by charity donations. When you enter, you will find donation boxes. It is a good idea to put some money in it, buy some souvenirs, use cafés or restaurants in the museum.
Author and Photographs - Yuka Ishihara