London & Environs

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Practical information
Days out




Parks & Gardens
Sites of interest

Museums - links

The British Museum
The National Gallery
The Natural History Museum
Londons' Transport Museum
Victoria & Albert Museum
Tate Modern



There are plenty of museums and art galleries in and around London. To be informed about some free lectures and film shows which are held regularly, have a look at Time Out magazine, published weekly, which gives some details.

A lot of museums in London charge no entrance fee. However there are boxes at the entrance for voluntary contributions (sometime you can kindly be suggested to give your contribute).

Other museums, with the exception of MOMI and the National Maritime Museum, are either free or have a period when admission is free. A number of the capital's specialist museums are also free including the Horniman, an intimate anthropological museum in south-east London, the Geffrye in Hackney, the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood, and Britain's smallest museum, the beautiful Sir John Soame's Museum in Lincoln's Inn Field.

The Bank of England Museum doesn't charge visitors, nor does the Wellcome Building near Euston Station, which shows exhibitions on a medical theme. Two recent additions to the list are The New British Library and the Museum of Collectors at Oxo Tower Wharf.

Other museums charge entrance fees. We'd suggest that you check if there's a discount for students or group. Most of the museums that charge a fee, let you in for free about one hour before closing time. Special exhibitions generally are charged separately.

The British Museum, Great Russell Street (ph. 0207 6361555), is one of the largest and greatest museums in the world. It's a historical, not an art museum. It displays important achievements in human development. Anything from the Egyptian to the ancient Greek to the Roman to the Chinese civilisation has been documented. One day is not sufficient to visit the whole structure, so you'd better plan different visits, so as to admire the various sections of the Museum each time. Admission is free of charge. The Museum is open from Monday to Saturday (10:00-17:00), Sunday (14:30-18:00). Tube Stations: Russell Square, Holborn, Tottenham Court Road.

While visiting London you ought not miss The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, characterised by its neo-classical building, which has one of the world's finest permanent collections of Western European paintings. Admissions are free though some exhibitions are charged. Next door, The National Portrait Gallery, St. Martin's Place (ph. 0207 306 0055), houses a collection of portraits (mostly paintings and photographs) of the of people who have made an important contribution to British history and culture. It has about 10,000 portraits, including Henry VIII and some of his wives, Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, the Prince and Princess of Wales, the Queen, Lady Thatcher, Mick Jagger and many others. It's free, is open Monday-Wednesday and Saturday (10:00-18:00), Thursday and Friday (10:00-19:00), Sunday (10:00-18:00), and has a new extension. Tube station: Charing Cross, Leicester Square.

Tate Britain, Millbank (telephone 0207 887 8000), has a free admission and covers works from the 16th century to the present day. There are also rooms dedicated to major artists such as Blake, Constable, Spencer and Bacon. The Clore Gallery continues to house the Turner collection. It's open daily from 10:00 to 17:30. Tube Station: Pimlico. There is a free bus between Tate Britain, Tate Modern and the National Gallery every 30 minutes (10:00-6:00 daily).

Tate Modern, 25 Summer Street, (ph. 0207 887 8000) was opened on 12th May 2000. It's the new home of the Tate's collection of international modern art dating from 1900 to the present day, one of the most important modern art collection in the world. Swiss architect firm Herzog & de Meuron have converted the former Bankside Power Station into an extremely attractive gallery space which has marvellous views of the city. Tate Modern is open Monday-Thursday, Sunday (10:00-20:00), Friday (10.00-22.00) and Saturday (10:00-22:00). Admission is Free. Tube station: Southwark.

The Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington, (ph. 0207 938 8500), is Britain's National Museum of Art and Design. Its 146 galleries host some of the world's finest collections of furniture, ceramics and glass, metalwork and jewellery, textiles and dress from the Middle Ages up to the 20th century ( the Dress Gallery covers over 400 years of European fashionable dress). Don't miss the largest collection of Italian Renaissance sculpture outside Italy. It also displays paintings, prints, drawings, posters and photographs and sculptures. Well worth visiting are the British miniature paintings, the Raphael Cartoons and the new Indian and Chinese galleries. It's open Monday (12:00 -17:00), Tuesday - Sunday (10:00 -17:50). Tube Station: South Kensington.

National History Museum has interesting natural exhibits including "Dinosaurs" and "The Power Within" where you can experience an earthquake. Tube station: South Kensington.

The Museum of London, London Wall (ph. 0207 600 3699), shows you a 3D history of the City and London area, with models, reconstructions and even the Lord Mayor's coach of 1756. The new Roman London gallery houses nearly 2000 original objects and the latest evidence from recent archaeological discoveries. Closed on Monday, it's open Tuesday - Saturday (10:00-18:00), Sunday (14:00-18:00). Tube stations: Barbican, St Paul's, Moorgate.

The Design Museum, Butler's Wharf, Shad Thames (ph. 0207 403 6933), gives an introduction to 20th century design, technology and consumer culture, analysing the role of design in everyday life. It's open Monday - Friday (11:30-18:00), Saturday and Sunday (12:00-18:00). Tube Station: Tower Hill.

The Museum of the Moving Image, Southbank (ph. 00207 401 2636), known as MOMI, explains the history of moving images, from Chinese shadow puppets to film, television, video, satellite and hologram technology. There are plenty of opportunities for taking part. It's open daily from 10:00 to 18:00. Also worth visiting is the Hayworth Gallery next to MOMI. Tube Station: Waterloo.

The Theatre Museum, Russell Street (ph. 0207 836 7891), is dedicated to theatre, ballet, opera, circus and music hall. It displays costumes, playbills, scenery, and props. It's open Tuesday - Sunday (11:00-19:00). Tube Station: Covent Garden.

Tower Bridge Museum, Tower Bridge (ph. 0207 403 3761), exhibits the history, design and continuing use of the Bridge. You can climb up to the high level foot bridge with panoramic views. It's open April- October, everyday (10:00-18:30), November - March, everyday (10:00-17:15). Tube Station: Tower Hill.

Too many museums have remained out of our short list, simply because we cannot summarise here all them.

Should you be interested in the contemporary art world, you can visit The Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road, or The Whitechapel Gallery, Aldgate, which is one of London's most important independent spaces, The Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, which has recently been renovated and offers interesting exhibitions in a beautiful setting.

If you're interested in Photography, visit The Photographers' Gallery, 5 & 8 Newport Street, which offers some interesting exhibitions of contemporary world photography. Last but not least, The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), celebrates some of Britain's most important architects in its free exhibition galleries.