Free London Museums

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British Museum

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British Museum
British Library
British Museum
Imperial War Museum
Museum of London
National Maritime Museum
Queens House
Natural History Museum
Natural History Museum
Sir John Soane's Museum
The Royal Observatory
The Royal Observatory
Bank of England Museum
British Museum
Bank of England
Design Museum
Design Museum


From the big-hitters to the small, specialist sites, London's crammed full of museums, most of which are free to all. Interactive displays, tours and, in particular, events for children and families are de rigeur for most of the larger museums and it's easy to spend a whole day just strolling, perusing and stopping for tea and cake breaks in the museum's cafe.

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British Museum

The spectacular British Museum building is home to a vast collection of world artefacts

Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, London, WC1B 3DG

Tube: Tottenham Court Road Station , Russell Square Station, Holborn Station


The British Museum's Great Court with its magnificent glass and steel roof by Sir Norman Foster is an exhibition piece in itself. And, like most of the galleries in the museum, it's free to wander around and look up at in awe. In fact, over seven million objects from all over the world are housed in this impressive museum of human history and culture (many of the artifacts are stored underneath the museum due to lack of space). Founded in 1753, displays ranging from prehistoric to modern times were primarily based on the collections of physician and scientist, Sir Hans Sloane. Notable objects - all of which can be seen without spending a cent - include the Parthenon Marbles, the Rosetta Stone, the Sutton Hoo and Mildenhall treasures, and the Portland Vase. With such a wealth of objects to discover you may want to sign up for one of the free events that regularly take place including talks, films, performances and discussions.


Events at British Museum

Arctic: Culture and Climate Ongoing Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

28th May to 23rd August 2020 | £16 (Adults, early bird), Free (Under 16s), 2-for-1 tickets for students on Fri, concessions and group rates available

Arctic: Culture and Climate British Museum 2020-05-282020-08-23 Where:
British Museum, Great Russell Street London, WC1B 3DG
Category: Museums
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Bank of England Museum

The UK's central bank has a long and complicated history dating back to 1694

Bartholomew Lane, City, London, EC2R 8AH

Tube: Bank Station , Cannon Street Station, Mansion House Station, Moorgate Station, Monument Station


Housed within the Bank of England, this museum traces the history of the bank from its foundation by Royal Charter in 1694 to its role today as the nation's central bank. There are gold bars dating from ancient times to the modern market bar, coins, and a unique collection of banknotes. There are also many items you might not expect to find - pikes and muskets used to defend the bank, Roman pottery and mosaics uncovered when it was rebuilt in 1930, and documents relating to famous customers such as Horatio Nelson, George Washington and the Duchess of Marlborough.


The British Library

Full of literary treasures and fascinating facts, plus plenty of quiet corners for book-browsing

96 Euston Road, King's Cross, London, NW1 2DB

Tube: King's Cross Station , Euston Station


With over 150 million items, a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland, artwork by artists such as Antony Gormley and Eduardo Paolozzi, and a host of historically momentous works - including the Magna Carta, the Gutenberg Bible, Shakespeare's First Folio and the Lindisfarne Gospels - a guided tour around the British Library is essential if you only have time for one visit. This is, after all, the largest public building constructed in the United Kingdom in the 20th century and, as such, warrants a guided tour around its cavernous spaces. While the library has a lot to offer the casual visitor - exhibition galleries (mostly free) special exhibitions, events, films, musical performances and poetry readings - if it's your first visit it's a good idea to let an experienced guide navigate you through the main treasures that call this place home. These guides also really know their stuff and will open your eyes to this gargantuan repository. Of particular interest is the Diamond Sutra, the world's earliest dated printed book, and the only surviving copy of 'Beowulf'. The King's Library - a three-storey glass tower - forms the centre-piece of the building both architecturally and in terms of its historic acquisitions. With 65,000 printed volumes, The King's Library refers to King George III, whose personal collection is on display here. Some of the tours include access to the reading rooms, access to which is usually limited to those with passes. While it is free to explore this iconic building, paying for a tour is more than worth it if you only have a few hours to take everything in.


Imperial War Museum

Providing insightful documentation of conflict, from the First World War to the present day

Lambeth Road, Elephant and Castle, Southwark, London, SE1 6HZ

Tube: Lambeth North Station


Occupying the former Bethlehem Hospital for the Insane ('Bedlam'), the Imperial War Museum is the national museum of 20th-century conflict. Founded in 1917, it not only contains a fascinating display of the vehicles and weapons of war, but also makes an in-depth study of the social effects of conflict. From the M4 Sherman tank, the V2 rocket and Polaris missile, to the walk-through recreation of a front line trench from the Somme, the Imperial War Museum represents all facets of fighting and its aftermath. Both World Wars are chronicled with thought-provoking displays of painting and poetry from Sassoon to Wilfred Owen, and a reconstructed air raid shelter and Blitzed street from 1940. The sights, sounds and smells have been carefully recreated to really bring the experience to life. Over 15,000 paintings, 120 million feet of cine film and 30,000 posters make this a unique collection.


Museum of London

This museum tells the story of the London, from prehistoric times to present day

150 Wall, City, London, EC2Y 5HN

Tube: Barbican Station , St. Paul's Station


Experience the real flavour of London life from the prehistoric to present day at this modern museum boasting over 1.1 million objects - many rescued from archaeological digs or discovered during building works in the City. A chain of chronological galleries guides visitors through the history of this ancient city; 47,000 objects from Roman London pave the way with buckles, brooches and belt-fittings to the medieval period, 17th-century glassware leads onto vivid Victorian street scenes, interiors and shop fronts. From the skulls of those thought to have been massacred by Queen Boudica to boots worn by the Duke of Wellington, Queen Victoria's Parliamentary robes and paraphernalia from the Suffragettes' Movement, the history of London and its inhabitants is brought back to life with startling intensity. Don't miss fragments of the old London Wall located just outside the museum.


Events at Museum of London

The Clash: London Calling
On SoonFree Event

6th August to 6th September 2020 - Various Times | Free, adv booking required, adv tickets from for timed slot

The Clash: London Calling Museum of London 2020-08-062020-09-06 Where:
Museum of London, 150 London Wall London, EC2Y 5HN
Category: Museums

An extensive display of memorabilia and archive material relating to The Clash's 1979 third studio album, London Calling, created in partnership with the band and Robert Gordon McHarg III.

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National Maritime Museum | Queen's House | Royal Observatory

The world's largest Maritime Museum is situated in the Greenwich World Heritage site

Park Row, London, SE10 9NF

Tube: New Cross Station (East London line closed. Bus service operates)


  • National Maritime Museum
Located in the heart of historic Greenwich, the National Maritime Museum houses the most important collection of objects relating to the history of Britain at sea. The collection dates back to 1823 when a National Gallery of Naval Art was established, featuring some 300 portraits, paintings and artefacts. The museum occupies a former asylum and hospital school, and enjoys fantastic views of the Thames from its elevated position. With the addition of the covered Neptune Court, the museum now boasts galleries dealing with topics ranging from navigation, naval exploits and Nelson, to exploration, the ecology of the sea and emigration. Visitors can try their hand at signalling and gunnery, explore the expansion of the Empire or just revel at the power, majesty and romance of the sea through poetry, painting and photography. Admission to the Museum is free, but you may want to splash out on tickets to the Cutty Sark or an exhibition.
  • Queen's House
As far as royal residences go this is a modest palace - an appealing, but simple, bright white, classical, Palladian villa flanked by colonnades. Its understated appearance, however, belies its immense historical significance. Built in 1616 by Inigo Jones for Anne of Denmark - the wife of James I - Queen's House was the first neo-classical building seen in England. Originally conceived as a hunting lodge and addition to the Palace of Greenwich, it also acted as a bridge spanning the public road to Deptford, which divided the park in two. Despite revolutionising Jacobean architecture the house, itself, didn't get finished until 1635 when it became home to Charles I and his Queen, Henrietta Maria. The house went on to survive tumultuous times. Queen Anne died before it was completed, shortly after Civil War broke out and Oliver Cromwell stripped the Stuarts of the residence and its many treasures. It is now used by the National Maritime Museum to exhibit paintings of illustrious seafarers and historic Greenwich. The Stuart 'Tulip Staircase', purported as the first spiral staircase in Britain, has been reinstated and takes its name from the beautiful floral patterning on the wrought-iron balustrade. Some faded painted panels remain on the ceiling of the royal bedchamber while the cuboid Great Hall is swathed in impressive computer-enhanced copies of Gentileschi frescos. For the valiant among you, Queen's House is notoriously haunted and photos of shrouded figures ascending the spiral stairs are thought to be legitimate. Admission to the house is free.
  • Royal Observatory
This museum of time and space was built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1675. It marks the site of the Greenwich Meridian - the base point for World Time and the site of Longitude 0. If you time it right, you can watch the timeball drop at 1pm each day. The National Maritime Museum, at this site since 1937, and Royal Observatory have accumulated over 2 million objects about the sea, ships, astronomy and time. Visitors can also see the Astronomer Royal's apartments, the famous Harrison timekeepers (1735-60) with computer simulations, intricate instruments, Wren's Octagon Room and the largest refracting telescope in Britain. In 2007 the 15 million Peter Harrison Planetarium opened, a beautiful cone-shaped addition to the Royal Observatory designed by architects Allies and Morrison. This 120-seat, state-of-the-art facility replaces the small and out of date planetarium in the dome of the South Building. Admission to the Observatory's Astronomy Centre is free, but if you want access to other areas and the Peter Harrison Planetarium there will be small fee.


Events at The Queen's House

Woburn Treasures OngoingFree Event Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

13th February 2020 to 17th January 2021 | Free

Woburn Treasures The Queen's House 2020-02-132021-01-17 Where:
The Queen's House, Park Row London, SE10 9NF
Category: Museums
All events at National Maritime Museum | Queen's House | Royal Observatory

Natural History Museum

Educational, exciting and larger than life. The Natural History Museum is truly unforgettable

Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 5BD

Tube: South Kensington Station , Gloucester Road Station


An 8-metre long giant squid, a walrus from Hudson Bay overstuffed by a London taxidermist in the 1880s, the skeleton of a Triceratops, a life-size Blue Whale and a sea cow are just a few of the 70 million items to call this exciting, interactive, life and earth science museum home. The permanent galleries show exhibitions on topics as diverse as: Dinosaurs - the ultimate prehistoric exhibition; Creepy-Crawlies - guaranteed to have you scratching in seconds; Human Biology - the must-see exhibition about the evolution of the species; and The Power Within - an examination of the earthquake experience. The Vault - a permanent exhibition of gems and rare meteorites - contains some famous, historic and priceless jewels. For those wanting to explore further a visit to The Darwin Centre is highly recommended. Book in for one of their free regular lectures and demonstrations and you'll see the how the museum's work is not just about preserving the past but conserving for the future. In warmer months the tranquil wildlife garden (open April to October), offers a further free attraction where you can get closer to nature. All galleries are free, although you may have to pay for some temporary exhibitions.


Events at Natural History Museum

Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature Ongoing Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

22nd May 2020 to 3rd January 2021 | £18 (Adults), £10.95 (Children 16 & under), £14.50 (Concessions), £31.50-£54.95 (Families)

Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature Natural History Museum 2020-05-222021-01-03 Where:
Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road London, SW7 5BD
Category: Museums
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Science Museum

Full of hands-on exhibits and mind-boggling artefacts, plus a 3D IMAX Cinema

Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2DD

Tube: South Kensington Station


Home to one of the world's most magnificent collections of science, industry, technology and medicine, the Science Museum is one of London's most hands-on and interactive museums. Funded by the profits of the Great Exhibition of 1851, it started life in the 19th century as part of Prince Albert's grand scheme to promote industrial technology. Today, it occupies a purpose-built building and contains some 300,000 objects, covering the entire history of Western science, technology and medicine. Displays are designed to encourage interaction with certain areas aimed at specific age groups. In the Launchpad gallery, for example, visitors are invited to learn about forces and motion with exhibits that make physics fun for children aged between 8 and 14 years. There's a whole host of scientific things to discover, from how aircraft are built to morphing your face to see how you'll look in 10 years' time. The monthly Science Museum Lates are also free - offering adults a chance to enjoy the museum free of charge as well as free from marauding kids.


Events at Science Museum

Driverless: Who is in control? OngoingFree Event Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

12th June 2019 to 1st October 2020 | Free

Driverless: Who is in control? Science Museum 2019-06-122020-10-01 Where:
Science Museum, Exhibition Road London, SW7 2DD
Category: Museums
Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries
On SoonFree Event

19th August 2020 to 31st May 2021 - 10am-6pm | Free, adv booking required

Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries Science Museum 2020-08-192021-05-31 Where:
Science Museum, Exhibition Road London, SW7 2DD
Category: Museums
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Sir John Soane's Museum

Take a stroll through time at Sir John Soane's extraordinary home

13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, Holborn, London, WC2A 3BP

Tube: Holborn Station , Chancery Lane Station


An appealingly higgledy-piggledy treasure trove of artefacts, this extraordinary house elegantly located on Lincoln's Inn Fields is well worth an exploratory rummage. Lurking in nooks and crannies within the sprawling rooms and halls of neo-classical architect Sir John Soane's former residence are over 30,000 architectural drawings and antiquities. Works by Turner, Canaletto and Piranesi feature in the painting collection, with William Hogarth's eight canvasses of 'A Rake's Progress' forming the centre-piece. Each of the many spaces in this museum has its own strong identity and appeal. From the domed ceiling of the Breakfast Room and the Gothic library, to the study with its Roman architectural fragments and the two courtyards crammed with ancient stonework, this is a house of diversity and architectural merit. One of the most intriguing rooms is the Picture Gallery. Here, Canaletto's magnificent Riva degli Schiavoni, looking West, takes centre stage. Look out for the alabaster Egyptian Sarcophagus of Seti I dated 1370 BC appropriately located in the basement 'Sepulchral Chamber'.


Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum

Expansive, elegant. Spend a day browsing the V&A's art and design collections

Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2RL

Tube: South Kensington Station


With over 145 galleries to explore and over 4 million items, the V&A is one of the most influential museums of decorative and applied arts in the world. It was originally founded in 1852, with the aim of enthusing and educating British manufacturers and designers. It is now home to a stunning collection of European, Indian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Islamic artefacts ranging from ceramics, glass, metalwork and sculpture to costume, armour, weaponry and furniture. The gallery also houses the national collection of the art of photography, the oldest photography collection in the world. Visitors can delve into the fascinating dress collection that features samples from historical dress to 21st-century haute-couture or examine the celebrated Arts and Crafts interiors of the Morris and Gamble Rooms. The gallery is often cited as housing the greatest collection of Italian Renaissance sculpture outside Italy, while the British Galleries - which opened to great acclaim in November 2001 - are unique in their exploration of British design from Chippendale to Morris, Adam to Mackintosh. Highlights include the Great Bed of Ward as mentioned in Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night', and James II's wedding suit. The building itself - a mix of Victorian and Edwardian design - also presents a truly formidable display. The Cast Courts (two great halls housing the museum's impressive collection of plaster casts), in particular, form a major focal point of the museum - with their high glass roof, elevated corridors and walkways.


Events at Victoria and Albert (V & A) Museum

Renaissance Watercolours: from Durer to Van Dyck Ongoing Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

16th May to 20th September 2020 | £15

Renaissance Watercolours: from Durer to Van Dyck Victoria and Albert (V & A) Museum 2020-05-162020-09-20 Where:
Victoria and Albert (V & A) Museum, Cromwell Road London, SW7 2RL
Category: Museums
Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser Ongoing Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

27th June 2020 to 10th January 2021 | £20 (Adults), Free (Children under 12)

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser Victoria and Albert (V & A) Museum 2020-06-272021-01-10 Where:
Victoria and Albert (V & A) Museum, Cromwell Road London, SW7 2RL
Category: Museums
Bags: Inside Out Ongoing Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

25th April 2020 to 31st January 2021 | £12

Bags: Inside Out Victoria and Albert (V & A) Museum 2020-04-252021-01-31 Where:
Victoria and Albert (V & A) Museum, Cromwell Road London, SW7 2RL
Category: Museums
On Point: Royal Academy of Dance at 100 OngoingFree Event Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

1st May 2020 to 6th February 2021 | Free

On Point: Royal Academy of Dance at 100 Victoria and Albert (V & A) Museum 2020-05-012021-02-06 Where:
Victoria and Albert (V & A) Museum, Cromwell Road London, SW7 2RL
Category: Museums
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Design Museum

This striking museum has a free, permanent exhibition as well as regular free pop-up shows.

224-238 Kensington High Street, Bankside, London, W8 6AG

Tube: High Street Kensington Station


In 2016 the Design Museum moves from is long-standing home at Shad Thames to a venue three times the size, the former Commonwealth Institute building in Kensington High Street. The Grade II* listed building has been transformed by a design team led by John Pawson to include the Swarovski Foundation Centre for Learning, 202-seat Bakala Auditorium and a dedicated gallery to display its permanent collection, accessible free of charge. Within the collection - which started in 1982 as the pioneering Boilerhouse Project in the V&A - are designs that have shaped the modern world from fashion to furniture, product and graphic design, digital media, transport and architecture. The collections, both permanent and temporary, trace the history of design developments, from the origins of mass production to contemporary works. The permanent exhibition and regular pop-up shows are free to visit.


Events at Design Museum

Fountain Of Hygiene
Now On

31st July to 30th August 2020 - 10am-9pm | Free, plus adm to Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers, Mon-Fri £16, NUS/concs £12, Mon-Fri ages 6-15 £8, Sat & Sun £18, NUS/concs £13.50, Sat & Sun ages 6-15 £9, adv booking required for timed slots, adv booking at www.designmuseum.o

Fountain Of Hygiene Design Museum 2020-07-312020-08-30 Where:
Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High Street London, W8 6AG
Category: Museums

The atrium hosts the winners of a global competition organised by Bompas & Parr to invite creatives, designers and makers to re-explore hand washing rituals and create innovative designs for sanitiser pumps.

Electronic: From Kraftwerk To The Chemical Brothers

31st July 2020 to 14th February 2021 - Various Times | Mon-Fri £16, NUS/concs £12, Mon-Fri ages 6-15 £8, Sat & Sun £18, NUS/concs £13.50, Sat & Sun ages 6-15 £9, adv booking required for timed slots, adv booking at

Electronic: From Kraftwerk To The Chemical Brothers Design Museum 2020-07-312021-02-14 Where:
Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High Street London, W8 6AG
Category: Museums
Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street Ongoing Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

6th May to 4th December 2020 | £10

Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street Design Museum 2020-05-062020-12-04 Where:
Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High Street London, W8 6AG
Category: Museums
Prada. Front and Back On Soon Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

Tuesday 1st September 2020

Prada. Front and Back Design Museum 2020-09-01 Where:
Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High Street London, W8 6AG
Category: Museums

The Design Museum dedicates its major winter exhibition to Prada, offering visitors unprecedented access to the brand's creative approach. With access to Prada's Milan headquarters, Prada. Front and Back looks at the global influence that ...more

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