Long gone are the days when we were reluctantly dragged to museums by our parents or teachers. Now, many of us eagerly await new exhibitions, and London museums are becoming increasingly popular.
If you’ve not been to them before, now might be the time to find out what you’re missing.
1. Victoria & Albert Museum
Nearest tube: South Kensington
The V&A’s free to view collection is devoted to art and design, with objects ranging from Art Deco furniture to paintings by John Constable and JMW Turner.
It’s the museum’s temporary exhibitions (which do require an entry ticket) that you really need to keep an eye on. In recent years shows dedicated to the likes of fashion designer Alexander McQueen and music icon David Bowie have been hugely successful.
2. National Gallery
Nearest tube: Charing Cross
Walking through the National Gallery is a veritable who’s who of art history, with everyone from Botticelli to Titian, Van Gogh and Monet making an appearance.
Ever heard of a little painting called Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh? It’s just one of the many masterpieces on display as part of the permanent exhibition – open free to the public.
Once you’ve done admiring the artwork, pop into the elegant National Dining Rooms for a bite to eat. It was designed by world famous architect David Collins, who also designed the celeb-magnet bar at Mayfair hotel Claridge’s, and has window views spilling onto Trafalgar Square.
3. British Museum
Nearest tube: Holborn
Speaking of impressive buildings, the British Museum can definitely be counted among some of the most incredible structures in London.
The previous two museums on the list are largely dedicated to art, but in the British Museum it’s all about history. Don’t be fooled by the name, because there are artefacts from all over the world.
Set aside several hours to learn about the ancient Egyptians or the Bronze Age in Europe. Remarkably, the museum is free – although tickets are required for temporary exhibitions.
4. Natural History Museum
Nearest tube: South Kensington
If you haven’t visited the Natural History Museum since you were a child, now is the perfect time to go. Dippy – the giant dinosaur who filled up the main room of the building – has now been replaced by Hope, the 25.2-metre-long blue whale skeleton who hangs from the ceiling.
It’s free to view the mind boggling collection of animals, fossils and skeletons – so expect long entry queues at weekends. The annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is also held here, although ticket prices apply.
Tip: It’s worth combining with a trip to the neighbouring V&A – both are on Exhibition Road in South Kensington.
5. Churchill War Rooms
Nearest tube: Westminster
Located in a secret underground bunker from World War Two, the Churchill War Rooms are the best place to learn about the former British Prime Minister’s life.
It was in this confined space beneath Westminster that Churchill and his senior ministers mapped out the Allied victory. Many items of memorabilia have been placed just as they would have been all those years ago.
This is the only museum in the top five which doesn’t have free admission. Expect to pay £22 for adults and £11 for children.
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