When people ask me what is one of my favourite things about London I will always mention the accessibility to culture. The reason is that I have yet to see somewhere else in the world that doesn’t charge you to visit and explore many of their museums. Many people may shy away from visiting London, as it is known to be such an expensive city. And it is. But for a tourist, especially the kind of tourist more interested in the cultural side of the city, it can actually be incredibly cheap if you think about how many incredible places you can visit without paying a single penny.
Yes, you read it right. London holds so many world-renowned art and artefacts collections – and you won’t be charged entrance for a lot of them (even though donations are of course accepted). If you like history, if you like art, if you like to get lost in endless galleries…and are on a budget, this is for you 😉
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Probably my favourite museum in London is the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A). It is the world’s leading museum of art and design, housing a permanent (free) collection of over 2.8 million objects, books and archives covering 5 thousand years of human creativity. It has amazing resources for the study of decorative arts, architecture, fashion, textiles, performance arts, culture, painting, jewellery, Asian art and design, photography… basically every form of art can be found here.
The museum is enormous, so I’d advise you to focus on your areas of interest instead of trying to see the whole thing. Living in London, and the fact that it offers free entry, I’ve had the chance to visit these museums countless times and explore different sections each time. The Renaissance, China & Japan, Fashion, Theatre & Performance and Jewellery sections are my personal favourites. Plus, don’t miss out onthe enclosed garden and make a quick visit to the tea rooms.
The British Museum
My second favourite…less about arts, and more about the history of civilizations, the British Museumscollections attracted me from the first moment due to its amazing Egyptian collection. This was the first national public museum in the world, having opened its doors in 1759. It holds over 5 million objects in its incredible collection, covering every single corner of the globe. And yes, I do question the ways in which the British came into possession of such wealth…still, this is something you shouldn’t miss. Also free entry, but impossible to see the whole thing. Choose wisely before exhausting yourself.
If you like pre-raphaelites artists and are a fan of the landscapes of William Turner, do not miss out on Tate Britain. Dedicated to the best of British art, here you’ll find a pristine collection of art exclusively made in Britain. It houses paintings such as Ophelia by John Millais, The Lady of Shallot by Waterhouse, and well everything by Turner is simply wonderful to me.
The National Gallery
Make sure you combine a visit to Trafalgar Square with a free entry to the National Gallery, one of the finest and greatest art collections in the world. Explore art from the 13th to the early 20th century, and tick off your bucket list seeing in person masterpieces from old and new artists – The Virgin of the Rocks by Da Vinci, The Sunflowers by Van Gogh, the Toilette of Venus, by Velazquez. The gallery itself is beautiful, so make sure you at least take a stroll around the main galleries.
(it seems I have no photos of the interior of the national gallery…)
A sister of Tate Britain, it sits by the Thames on the Southbank, it is dedicated to anything modern or contemporary. Personally, I prefer their temporary exhibitions, which are paid, but if you like modern art, don’t miss out on the permanent collection. Plus, go up to the viewing level for an amazing and free view of London. This is part of the most recent addition to the museum and has caused quite a stir since you can literally look into the apartments of those lucky enough to be neighbours of the Tate Modern. At the time of writing, the viewing platform is closed.
National History Museum
This is the perfect museum for families. Focused on natural history, prepare to immerse yourself in times when humans simply dreamed of existence, and other creatures now barely recognised through fossils were reign. I simply love this building, it’s absolutely stunning… and inside even better. So even if you’re not into natural history, simply get inside, I swear you won’t regret it!
Hope you enjoyed this little piece about London museums. Anything captures your attention? Do you know any other place that offers such access to culture?