When you visit London, make sure to check out its museums and galleries. Unlike in other countries, you can visit most of the city’s major cultural treasure-troves without spending a single penny. Yes, even world-famous national museums in London are free of charge!
The variety of the collections and exhibits might surprise you too, as free admission is offered year-round at art galleries as well as science and history museums. Here are some of the recommended places to check out when you’re in London.
The British Museum has been free of charge since it opened in 1973. Now it’s London’s top attraction, drawing in millions of visitors each year with its vast and splendid collection of antiquities—over 7 million objects in 94 galleries!
You may not be able to see everything in a day or two, but don’t miss out on the famous Parthenon marble sculptures which were brought from Greece to England in 1801. Ancient treasures from Egypt, Rome, and Western Asia are on view as well, along with pieces dating back to the Renaissance and Medieval periods. You can also access images and information about the exhibit using the computer terminals at the Great Court.
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum in South Kensington is filled with fun and fascinating finds from the animal, plant, and mineral worlds. The star of the show is the Dinosaurs exhibit, where you get to come face-to-face with the complete skeletons of 14 dinosaurs along with two animatronic raptors and a “hungry” full-size robotic T. Rex.
Other big hits in the museum are the bug-centric Creepy Crawlies section, dazzling gems and crystals of the Mineral Gallery, the pavilion of meteorite fragments, and the preserved specimens housed in the Darwin Centre.
London’s Science Museum
Another popular kids’ attraction in South Kensington is the Science Museum, where the permanent displays can be viewed for free. Grab the opportunity to see an 1813 steam locomotive, the Apollo 10 space module, the first camera owned by Fox Talbot, and an original phonograph constructed by Edison himself.
There is also a special wing for contemporary science discoveries, plus plenty of interactive exhibits. For your little ones, the games and light-and-sound shows at the Garden Galleries are more than enough to keep them entertained for hours.
Art buff or not, you’ll be impressed at the fine and extensive collection of 13th- to 20th-century Western European paintings at the National Gallery. Located on the north side of Trafalgar Square, this museum showcases the prized works of Italian masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Botticelli; French Impressionist and post-Impressionist artists, including Degas, Monet, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Manet and Seurat; and Britain’s own—Turner, Constable, and Reynolds.
The Rembrandts have their share of wall space too. To learn more about these pieces on display, borrow an audio-tour guide from the gallery.
When it comes to modern and contemporary art (1900s onwards), Tate Modern in London’s South Bank is a must-see. It houses stunning works from the 20th century’s game-changers such as Frances Bacon, Henry Moore, Henri Matisse, Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dalí.
More contemporary pieces from the 21st century grace the gallery as well. The collections, however, are not arranged by period but by theme, making Tate Modern all the more refreshing. The gallery changes its displays every one or two years, too.
Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A)
How have the times changed? Find out at the Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington. Boasting 145 galleries, this art and design museum brings you fabulously decorated period rooms, Renaissance sculptures, a huge European fashion collection covering 400 years, Sistine Chapel tapestry designs by Raphael, and a host of vintage ceramics.
With many of the big names offering free admission, don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore and learn from London’s art galleries and museums. Such experiences are bound to be both valuable and memorable, and the fact that they don’t charge admission fee make the experience all the more special.
Photo Credit: Nozio