London: Museum City

London has dozens of museums which are both world famous and little known . Here is a selection of 25 of them .


1.The British Museum

020 7636 1555

Great Russell St, WC1

Tottenham Court Road/Russell Square Tube

The Elgin Marbles, British Museum
The Elgin Marbles, British Museum

From the controversially held Elgin Marbles to the Rosetta stone, the perfectly preserved mummies of Egypt and the enormous King George III library , the British Museum is home to some of the most impressive treasures of the world. The museum is free and London’s most popular attraction. As with so many of London’s attractions, the building itself is an architectural feat and the stunning glass ceiling in the Great Court designed by Norman Foster in 2000 is well worth a look. Again with so much under one roof and completely free, you can’t fail to find something in here you want to see, and although ambling around is good for the energetic among you, it may be worth having an agenda in mind with so much to see.

The Elgin Marbles, British Museum
The Elgin Marbles, British Museum

2.Freud Museum

20 Maresfield Gardens, NW3

Open Wednesday –Sunday 12m- 5pm

In North London, this is the home of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud famous for his theories of penis envy. The home is perfectly preserved and as an example of a 1930s home it is fascinating without the added intrigue of just who did live there, which can’t be ignored once you see the famous couch, a fantastic collection of antiquities and bursting library.


3.John Soane Museum

020 7405 2107

13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields

Holburn Tube

The John Soane museum, located a stone’s throw from the British Museum in Russell Square is a lesser known gem of London. This home of the architect of the Bank of England has been kept exactly as he left it in the C18th. But this is no ordinary home. John Soane had an obsession for possession and displaying throughout his home are fascinating pieces of art and artefact from the ancient to contemporary. The entrance room in the house is an elaborate but domesticated living area where just traces of the man’s eccentricities show through. But walking though the hall way you can’t fail to see the beginnings of someone obsessed with the use of light and mirrors and all things arty! From small sketches to the secret ‘folded away’ gallery of Hogarth masterpieces, the upstairs is a bevy of high art scattered carefully yet erratically around the rooms. Downstairs is the real surprise, a grotto of ancient relics and faux cork coliseum structures, a mummy… This house is a treat for anyone who likes to step back in time over and over. It is the alternative British Museum for those who like their houses more ‘Tales from the Crypt’ than ‘Changing Rooms.’


4. Science Museum

0870 870 4868

Exhibition Rd, SW7 near south Kensington tube


A favourite for school visits but a fascinating journey through the history of science and technology with great exhibits. Watts invention of the steam engine is s favourite.


5. Natural History Museum

020 7942 5000

Cromwell Rd near South Kensington tube

Mon – Sat 10am-5.50pm Sun 11am-5.50pm

This fantastic building houses all the wonders of the natural world. The best known exhibits are of course the dinosaurs (with the new moving, noisy, smelly tyrannosaurus rex as a more high tech attraction) but the blue whale and some fantastic temporary exhibitions make the museum a great place for all ages of visitor.


6. The Victoria and Albert

020 7942 2000

Cromwell Road, SW7 near South Kensington Tube

10am – 5.45 pm

A journey through the world of furniture, furnishing, objects , fashion curiosities and sculpture.. Highllights include the medieval galleries and the Islamic collection. Eye catching temporary exhibitions .Everything else is free.


7. Greenwich Maritime Museum

Maze hill, 020 8858 4422

The largest Maritime Museum in the world with some 2500 models of ships, uniforms and historical artefacts. Within the museum is the Royal Observatory which is the official home of 0 Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time. Visitors take pictures of themselves straddling the meridian line with a foot in each hemisphere. At 1.00 every day a time ball on top of the turret drops so that ships in the Thames can set their chronometers. With special exhibits on Nelson and Cook, the museum is great for anyone with an interest in the evolution of modern time and sea exploration.

The restored Cutty Sark clipper is nearby.


8. London Dungeons

020 7403 0606

28-34 Tooley St, SE1

London Bridge tube

The morbid fascination in us all leads millions to this London attraction. This is more of a theme park of horror than anything else. The Great Fire of London, Jack the Ripper, and being sentenced to death are the main attractions for visitors.


9. Imperial War Museum

020 7416 5000

Lambeth Rd, SE1

Lambeth North tube/Elephant and Castle

10am – 6pm

The museum tells the story of 20th century warfare. The main ‘attraction’ is the Blitz and the WW1 trench experience. As with most museums around town, there are new exhibits and displays opening all the time. Check listings.


10. Museum of London

020 7600 3699

London Wall, EC2 near Barbican/St Paul’s/Moorgate and bank tube

Mon-Sat 10am – 5.50pm Sun 12pm – 5.50pm


Just a short walk from St Paul’s Cathedral this is a good little museum to visit for an easily accessible potted history of London. Taking you on a walk through London from it’s foundations in Roman Britain to present day and new developments. Using archaeological finds and reconstructions, the past is brought to life with displays, videos, games and explanations. You can see a Roman living room with an original footprint, walk through a reconstructed Victorian street or hear how the fire of London consumed so much of our capital. This is one of the smaller museums but with something to offer any visitor who would like a visual understanding of London’s history.


11. Dickens House Museum

020 7405 2127

48 Doughty St, WC! Near Russell Square Tube/Chancery Lane

Mon- SAT 10am – 5pm closed Sundays.

This museum and library was home to the Dickens family from 1837-1839. It was here where the novelist wrote ‘Oliver Twist’, ‘Pickwick Papers,’ ‘Barnaby Rudge’ and ‘Nicholas Nickleby’.


12. Handel House Museum

23 Brook St

Oxford Circus Tube

The house was Handel’s home between 1723 ands 1759 and Jimmy Hendrix had a home is next door! Now a museum the house is devoted to the composer’s life and work with concert’s held in his old drawing room.


13. Dr Johnson’s House

Gough Square EC4

Dr Johnson famously wrote the first English dictionary in the ten years from 1749-1759. A first edition of the dictionary is on display amongst other period pieces and personal items.


14. Florence Nightingale Museum

020 7620 0374


15. Geffrye Museum

Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, E2

020 7739 9893

This museum specialises in recreating the interiors of Middle Class urban homes. From the C17th to present the exhibits are displayed in Georgian Almshouses and are surrounded by a herb garden and an equally lovely series of period garden rooms.


16. Jewish Museum

129-131 Albert St, NW1

020 7284 1997

The history of Jewish life in Britain Is displayed here for visitors to peruse.


17. The Clink Prison Museum

1 Clink Street, SE1

This museum is basically the old prison which claims to be the oldest in England. The best collection of torture instruments this side of Soho.


18. Apsley House

020 7499 5676

No 1 London., Hyde Park Corner

The former home of the First Duke of Wellington houses some 200 masterpieces including Velazquez, Goya and Rubens. The surroundings are restored to their former beauty.


19. Wallace Collection

020 7563 9500

Herford House, Manchester Sq, W1 near Bond Street Tube

Holds paintings by Canaketto, Gainsborough and Reynolds as well as furniture, porcelain and other interest art and artefact.


20. Banqueting House

Whitehall, SW1

Built by Inigo Jones for James I from 1619 it was the only part of Whitehall Palace to survive the fire of 1698. Stunning Rubens ceiling paintings attract visitors. Scaffolding was erected outside here in 1649 to behead King Charles I.


21. London Transport Museum

Covent Garden Tube

020 7379 6344

From 1800 to the present day, this museum is packed to the gills with anything that got you from a to b quicker. It’s all very hands on and probably best loved by children for its workshops.


22. The National Army Museum

020 7730 0717

Royal hospital Road, SW3 near Sloane Squaretube

The museum tells the stories associated with the many wars which have involved the United Kingdom and showcases the stories of individual soldiers. Interesting exhibits.


23. The Theatre Museum

Russell Street, Covent Garden

Covent Garden Tube

020 7943 4700


Five galleries full of the world of luvvies. From famous frocks to displays of puppetry, there are also workshops for people who secretly aspired to treading the boards.


24. Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green

25. Horniman Museum & Gardens

100 London Road, SE23

020 8699 1872

Built in 1901 by Frederick Corniman this museum is home to a collection of natural history curiosities and art from around the world. The gardens offer beautiful views across the Thames valley and the City.


Destination – England