Unmissable London Museums

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London is a hotbed of culture and art, its history of collecting artefacts and paintings dating back hundreds of years. Indeed, many of the most famous artworks in the world are proudly displayed in London, whilst its history of aristocracy and nobility has led to vast collections of historic items in the city. Guests of luxury suites in London, then, are never far away from some of the best museums and galleries in the country, if not Europe.

London is an especially enticing culture trip for tourists in that many of its museums have permanent exhibitions that are completely free to visit. Spread all across the city, London’s countless museums and galleries make for an energising day out, whether they be an in depth exploration of contemporary art or a quirky industrialist’s antique collection!

This blog will provide a guide to the many museums that tourists shouldn’t miss on a visit to London. Whilst you probably won’t get through them all in one sitting, these galleries are free to visit, so even the most cash-strapped guest of boutique hotels in London can enjoy them too. 

The British Museum 

The British Museum

The British Museum grew out of the private collection of Sir John Hans Sloane, a doctor who had amassed a large collection of antiquities in the 1750s. With his private collection made public, more and more artefacts were added to the museum collection as explorers brought home more wonders from their travels. This forced the museum to expand over 250 years. Located in Russell Square, the decadent exterior of the British Museum has 8 million artefacts spanning 2 million years of human history, making it the largest human history collection in the world. 

Natural History Museum 

Natural History Museum

Originally an offshoot from the British Museum, the Natural History Museum is located in South Kensington and is one of a trio of museums that make up Museum Row. The Natural History Museum, in all its Romanesque architectural glory, is one of the most popular museums for families thanks to its vast collection of dinosaur and marine life fossils. Easy to reach from 5 star hotels near Edgware Road, visitors can enjoy a diverse array of exhibits including space rocks,  taxidermy and an annual wildlife photographer of the year exhibition. 

V&A 

V&A

The second of the Museum Row museums, the V&A explores the world and history of design and was named after Queen Victoria and her late husband Prince Albert. The latter founded the museum but did not survive to see its opening. Hopefully the prince would be happy with the millions of beautiful antiquities that are stored here, in what has become the largest design museum in the world. 

Science Museum 

The third museum on Museum Row, the Science Museum does what it says on the tin – and then some. Kids will love the hands-on and interactive exhibitions whilst adults will no doubt learn something new too here. The last of the South Kensington Museum trio to be opened, the Science Museum dates back to 1857 when it was opened as the South Kensington Museum, originally alongside artefacts from the V&A before they were separated into two distinct entities. 

Museum Of London 

For guests of the Montcalm Hotel London at the Brewery, the Museum of London is not far away, currently located in the Barbican area. The collections here are dedicated to the history of London, spanning from the prehistoric to the modern and provides context for the massive evolution that the city has been through. Completely free to visit, the museum explores everything from Roman era “Londinium” to the influence of the punk movement, so expect a wide and varied museum collection that reflects the diversity of the city it’s dedicated to.

A note for visitors – the Museum of London will be closing at the end of 2022 for a move to West Smithfields in 2025, so get there soon! 

Tate Modern 

Tate Modern

The Tate Modern was opened in the year 2000 and was built into what was once the Bankside Power Station. The spacious, imposing interior suits the collection perfectly, creating a futuristic ambiance and a collection of free to visit galleries that explore contemporary and modern art. From interactive installations to the post-impressionists of the late 19th century, the international collection is bolstered by an exciting yearly programme of temporary exhibitions. The Tate Modern is located on the banks of the River Thames and is within walking distance of the South Bank. 

Tate Britain 

Tate Britain

The Tate Britain is located in Pimlico, again on the banks of the Thames. The Tate Britain is focused on British artworks dating from between 1500 and the present day, and is itself the oldest art gallery in the country. Once known as the National Gallery of British Art, the Tate Britain is home to works by the likes of William Blake, David Hockney and Francis Bacon. 

National Gallery 

National Gallery

One of the most central art galleries in London, the National Gallery is situated in Trafalgar Square. The collection officially belongs to the Government of the United Kingdom, making it a government funded charity – hence its free entry. The works at the National Gallery date from between the mid 13th century to 1900 and though it’s national by name, it’s definitely international by nature. Many of the works at the gallery are those by European Master painters and the collection runs through many of the major developments in the history of art. 

National Portrait Gallery 

National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery was opened in 1856 to showcase works portraying influential Brits and claims to be the oldest gallery dedicated to portraiture. Over the years, the gallery has grown to include photography as well as traditional painting. It’s not just a gallery celebrating the artistic merit of pieces though, the National Portrait Gallery overlaps with British history, many of its pieces acting as records of key moments in the country’s past. 

Wallace Collection 

The Wallace Collection is located on Manchester Square in a former townhouse owned by the Seymour Family, famous for Jane Seymour, queen of England and third wife of Henry VIII. the collection though, dates closer to the modern day than the house owners sovereign ancestor, having been opened in 1897 from the private collection of Richard Seymour Conway, who’d left it and his townhouse to his son Richard Wallace who subsequently betrothed it to the British public. The collection offers a lavish glimpse into Victorian interior design as well as fine and decorative arts, antiques and portraiture over 25 gallery spaces.