5 London Museums To Get Lost In
There’s just something about London’s world class museums that will have you wandering for hours and leave so inspired. Before leaving Canada for the U.K., London’s museums were the one aspect of the city I was most excited for. From art galleries to relics to the staged homes and sculptures of the fictional or famous, there’s a museum for everybody in the British capitol- and they’re all free!
So next time it’s a rainy day or you’re wanting to become more cultured during your London escapes, here are my favourites!
5 London Museums To Get Lost In
Address: Millbank, London, SW1P 4RG
Nearest tube stop: Pimlico Station
Hours: 10-6 pm daily
Tate Britain caught my eye in the most London of ways- by advertising its David Hockney exhibit in my local tube station. Colourful paintings leapt off the posters and captured my imagination. I knew I had to visit it instantly. So on my first weekend free, I hopped the Victoria line to the museum and was in absolute awe at the Tate’s collections.
The art gallery is a collection of British art from 1500 to present. With big names like Sir John Everett Millais, James Barnor and William Blake, it’s easy to wander around the Tate for hours completely in rapture. I only visited for about 2 hours, but I could have easily stayed for an entire day. If you’re a creative person, I’d recommend bringing along a sketchbook or a notebook to capture the atmosphere of the Tate Britain for your less inspired days. I felt completely renewed inspiration-wise after a brief visit and wish I could visit it on a monthly basis.
The Tate also has a modern and contemporary museum counterpart, aptly named the Tate Modern. I’ve heard mixed reviews about Tate Modern, but if contemporary art interests you, it might be worth a visit.
For more information about Tate Britain and its upcoming exhibitions, click here.
Victoria & Albert
Address: Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL
Nearest tube stop: South Kensington Station
Hours: 10-5:45 pm Saturday-Thursday; Friday 10-10 pm
The Victoria & Albert Museum was a last-minute decision that my roommate and I made as we were caught in on-again-off-again showers while exploring London. Housing over 2,000 years of art work from all corners of the globe, the V&A showcases a very complete history of art.
My personal favourite section was the Islamic art and the India art section. Both used bright and bold colours, intricate patterns and unique shapes to tell stories. This was the first time I had seen either in a museum, and it really sparked my interest to venture to the Middle East and to India to see the full magic of their art work. If you’re interested in broadening your art history to a global scale, the V&A is well worth the visit!
For more history on the Victoria & Albert Museum, click here.
V&A Museum of Childhood
Address: Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 9PA, UK
Nearest tube station: Bethnal Green Station
Hours: 10-5:45 pm daily
Who said that growing up means you can’t be a kid again? Although the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood is definitely designed for kids, it was also so interesting to learn more about British kids’ toys and artwork, and reminisce over the toys I used to love playing with as a Canadian kid. As the largest childhood museum in the world, the V&A Childhood museum engages its visitors in its toy collections and experiences of childhood across the U.K.
I especially loved wandering in the dollhouse section, as that was where you would find me most as a five year old. I also really enjoyed the interactive board game section. There were many games that I had never heard of, but it seemed like a great way to spend a rainy afternoon or to play with your kids, if you have any.
To learn more about the V&A Museum of Childhood, click here.
The National Portrait Gallery
Address: St. Martin’s Pl, London WC2H 0HE, UK
Nearest tube station: Charing Cross Underground Station
Hours: Saturday- Wednesday 10-6 pm; Thursday & Friday 10-9 pm
The idea of portraits have always fascinated me. Artists commissioned by the wealthy to paint their likeness- mostly in a favourable light. Although we now have cameras to capture a person’s likeness, it’s still incredible to see the history and the artistry involved in capturing a person’s essence.
This is where the National Portrait Gallery comes in. With previous exhibits from incredible photographers like William Eggleston, who inspired David Lynch, Sofia Coppola, and Harmony Korine films, and upcoming exhibits from famous painters like Cezanne, the gallery showcases incredible British people and talent.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit the National Portrait Gallery. But, based on the amount my roommate raved about the gallery, I knew I needed to include it on my museum round-up of London.
For more information on the National Portrait Gallery, click here.
Address: Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG
Nearest tube station: Tottenham Court Road Station, Goodge Street Station, and Russel Square Station
Hours: Saturday-Thursday 10-5:30 pm; Friday 10-8:30 pm
A trip to London wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the British Museum. With multiple wings dedicated to a number of continents and cultures, the British Museum chronicles human culture and history from its beginning to present day. I found that this museum was quite similar to New York’s Metropolitan Museum, as they both showcase history and culture of mankind around the world.
My favourite wing was the new Africa exhibit. The colours and stories of the costumes and costumes were fascinating and shone light on history around the continent. There was also a small exhibit about Canada’s Indigenous people that reminded me of my time in Ottawa’s Museum of History.
Before visiting the British Museum, I’d recommend reading this post by Journey Wonders about cultural imperialism. Many museums around the world are guilty of pilfering artwork from other countries and cultures. And the British Museum has been under fire for years for this. Although it is a famous museum, it’s also important to recognize imperialism and colonialism, the consequences and possible resolutions.
For more information about the British Museum, click here.
What are your favourite London museums? Do you prefer art or history galleries?
Please share your stories of exploring London’s museums in the comments below and let me know if I missed any incredible museums in the British capitol!
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