Calling all culture-nerds – does wandering aimlessly through a museum on a Sunday afternoon sound like pure bliss? Do you like keeping up to date with the latest exhibitions? Is your bedroom wall covered in souvenir postcards from the exhibitions you’ve recently visited? Do you like free things?
With over 50 free museums in London to choose from, you can visit somewhere new every week. Think of a topic and there’s probably a museum dedicated to it – history, nature, war, science. No matter what your area of interest, there’s a museum for you.
Many of the museums have late night entry one evening per week, often with a special event or exhibition opening. Time these well and you may find yourself handed a free glass of wine. What better reason do you need to go and get yourself a bit of culture?
Here are our favourite London museums that offer free entry. Next time you’re walking past, why not head inside and check them out?
The world’s largest decorative arts and design museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum is a place to get lost in. With over 145 galleries displaying sculpture, furniture, jewellery, art, textiles and ceramics covering 5,000 years of art, it is impossible to see the entire V&A collection in one day. Thank goodness this place is free – you can come back again and again to discover a new part of the museum.
The museum holds special exhibitions that have entry fees, however the extensive general collection is completely free of charge. It’s incredible – so much history at your finger tips!
Address: Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL
Surely if you take the time to learn about the history of chocolate then you should be allowed to eat more of it? If you agree with my logic then head to Brixton to this independent museum run by French chocolatier, Isabelle Alaya.
Not only will you learn about the history of chocolate, you can also get involved in chocolate making workshops or just sample some of Isabelle’s delicious chocolatey treats. Take your taste buds on a historic chocolate journey and learn through eating. Mmm…
Address: 187 Ferndale Road, Brixton, SW 9 8BA
I am willing to admit to being one of those annoying people who flock to the Rosetta Stone in this impressive museum. If you love old artefacts, Egyptian statues and ancient history, then the British Museum is your kind of place.
Originally founded in 1753, it was the first national public museum in the world and it now attracts almost 6 million visitors each year. The main foyer area is a wonderfully bright, glass-roofed space and it is an easy museum to just slowly wander through on a rainy London afternoon.
Address: Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG
Discover more about the history of London’s bustling capital at the Museum of London. Showcasing the development of the city from prehistoric times through to current day, this museum provides a fascinating look at how London grew into the place we know today.
In 2003, a second gallery, the Museum of London Docklands, opened near Canary Wharf. The focus of this museum is on the shipping history of London and its importance as a port city throughout history.
These two museums provide a wonderful insight into London and will give you a new perspective on your home town.
Museum of London
Address: 150 London Wall, London, EC2Y 5HN
Museum of London Docklands
Address: West India Quay, Canary Wharf, London, E14 4AL
Once you’ve had spent long enough checking out fashion and glassware at the V&A, head next door and get close to nature at the Natural History Museum.
This place is better than a David Attenborough documentary – you will learn about our planet’s evolution, get up close to giant dinosaurs and prehistoric animals, and see how animals adapt and live in their natural environments.
You will be blown away by the range of exhibitions – the museum’s collection is made up from over 80 million items in the areas of botany, zoology, mineralogy, entomology and palaeontology. Even the Duchess of Cambridge likes this place – Kate is the patron of the Natural History Museum so it must be worth a visit.
Address: Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD
Frederick John Horniman, the son of a very successful tea merchant, invested some of his inheritance establishing this museum in 1901. Frederick liked collecting things and so he built this museum to house his 30,000 or so items. The collections range from cultural artefacts, musical instruments to natural history. There is a particularly impressive range of stuffed animals.
For something a little bit different, Frederick’s collection of things he just really liked is worth checking out.
Address: 100 London Road, Forest Hill, London, SE23 3PQ
For the incurably curious, the Wellcome Collection is a glorious mix of life, art and medicine, presented in fascinating exhibitions and surprising displays. There are also regular events such as talks, tours and discussion groups where you can join fellow curios and debate the meaning of life.
The permanent exhibition, Medicine Now, explores ideas and discoveries that have been made in medicine and science since the death of Sir Henry Wellcome, the Wellcome Trust’s founder. It focuses on the areas of obesity, the body, living with medical science and genomes.
Address: 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE
With World War I commemorations being of particular significance over the next few years, the Imperial War Museum is a must see for those who want to get a better understanding of modern war and conflict. This outstanding museum showcases the stories of people’s war experiences and provides a realistic portrayal of life during war times. You can also visit the Churchill War Rooms and wartime bunker that sheltered Churchill’s cabinet during the Blitz.
To get the most out of your visit, join one of the guided tours and hear detailed stories from one of the museum’s experts. The exhibitions are updated regularly, providing new perspectives and stories on war.
Address: Lambeth Road, London, SE1 6HZ
As this is a real estate website, how could we look past the Geffrye Museum of the Home? Showcasing the history of home life in England, you will learn about the changes that occurred within the English domestic interior with rooms set out in period decoration from the 1600s to present day.
The exhibitions highlight what each room within a house would have been used for, how it was decorated, lit and furnished. You can also wander through the tranquil gardens and see how garden design has changed over time.
Address: 136 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8EA
A great option for people visiting London and who want to discover a lot of the city at rapid speed, is to purchase a LondonPass. This pass gives you access to public transport, popular London attractions and free access to paid-entry museums. For more information about what this pass offers, visit the LondonPass website.
Have we forgotten to mention your favourite museum? Do you know a small and quirky museum that’s off the tourist track that you think we should know about? Please let us know in the comments below!