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.
Free London Museums
The spectacular British Museum building is home to a vast collection of world artefacts
Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, London, WC1B 3DG
Events at British Museum
Wednesday 28th January 2015 - 1.15pm-2pm | Free
A gallery talk by Katharine Hoare.
27th November 2014 to 31st May 2015 - Various Times | Free
22nd May 2014 to 19th April 2015 - Various Times | £10
Thursday 29th January 2015 - 12.30pm-2pm | Free
A relaxed chance for under 5s and their carers to explore, touch, listen to, look at and smell Korean culture.
Thursday 29th January 2015 - 1.15pm-2pm | Free
A chance to discover more about preventive conservation at the Museum.
Thursday 29th January 2015 - 1.30pm-2.30pm | Free, adv booking essential
An illustrated introduction to the exhibition.
Friday 30th January 2015 - 1.15pm-2pm | Free
A 45-minute gallery talk by Iside Carbone.
Friday 30th January 2015 - 6.30pm-7.30pm | £5, mems/concs £3, adv booking essential
Professor Roger Luckhurst explores the story of two items that are allegedly cursed.
The UK's central bank has a long and complicated history dating back to 1694
Bartholomew Lane, City, London, EC2R 8AH
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.
Events at Bank of England Museum
21st July 2014 to 1st April 2015 | Free
23rd March to 0th September 2015 | Free
What's the colour of money? The Bank Of England Museum in the City turns its attention to another type of greenery in Flora And Fauna (23rd March-September 2015) which looks at the rich array of ...more
Full of literary treasures and fascinating facts, plus plenty of quiet corners for book-browsing
96 Euston Road, King's Cross, London, NW1 2DB
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.
Events at British Library
27th to 31st Jan 2015 - Various Times | £8, child/NUS/OAP/mems £6.50
A tour of the public areas of the Library.
14th November 2014 to 29th March 2015 - Various Times | Free
Thursday 5th February 2015 - 6pm-8pm | Free
Performances and talks exploring themes connected to the lost Franklin expedition of 1845-6.
Friday 6th February 2015 - 6.30pm-8pm | £10, OAP £8, NUS/mems/under 18s £7
Musicologist Cliff Eisen and conductor Ian Page discuss the composer's musical development during his stay in London.
Friday 13th February 2015 - 6.30pm-8pm | £10, OAP £8, NUS/mems/under 18s £7
Musicologist Cliff Eisen and historian Lucy Inglis discuss the city where Mozart lived, performed and visited.
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.
Events at IWM London (Imperial War Museums)
19th July 2014 to 8th March 2015 | Free
24th October 2014 to 6th September 2015 - 10am-6pm | Free
1st January to 31st December 2015 - 10am-5pm | Free
19th July 2014 to 31st December 2015 | Free
1st, 8th, 15th and 22nd Feb 2015 at 11am-12.30pm and 2pm-4pm | Free
An opportunity for families to explore objects from the collections.
This museum tells the story of the London, from prehistoric times to present day
150 Wall, City, London, EC2Y 5HN
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
Wednesday 28th January 2015 - 6pm-7pm | Free
A survey of world religions, both now and in the past, shows some interesting consistences, with a clear fit between levels of belief and degrees of social inequality.
15th October 2014 to 1st March 2015 - 10am-6pm | Free
17th October 2014 to 12th April 2015 | Adult £12, concession £10
17th October 2014 to 12th April 2015 - 10am-6pm | £10.90, per person family £8.50, concs £9
25th July 2014 to 31st December 2015 | Free
The world's largest Maritime Museum is situated in the Greenwich World Heritage site
Park Row, London, SE10 9NF
- National Maritime Museum
- Queen's House
- Royal Observatory
Events at The Queen's House
15th February 2014 to 1st February 2015
Saturday 14th February 2015 - 7pm-8.30pm | £46 for two, mems £42 for two
Want a unique way to mark Valentine's Day? Discover the romantic letters of the Caird Library archives, a unique collection of letters written by men serving in the Georgian Navy to their wives and mistresses. ...more
Educational, exciting and larger than life. The Natural History Museum is truly unforgettable
Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 5BD
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
8th March 2014 to 0th July 2015 | Free
Women artists are the theme of Natural History Museum's temporary exhibition in the Images of Nature gallery, which showcases botanical and zoological artworks from the museum's extensive collection. Many of the artworks include watercolours dating ...more
Wednesday 28th January 2015 - 2.30pm | Free
Join Museum scientist Ellinor Michel as she describes how important the Crystal Palace dinosaur models were in the 1850s, and how they are still significant today.
28th January, 11th March and 25th March 2015 - 2.30pm | Free
Discover more about what the museum's new Stegosaurus' Jurassic home was really like.
24th October 2014 to 30th August 2015 | £12.60 (Adults), £6.30 (Concession and Child)
Thursday 29th January 2015 - 2.30pm-3pm | Free
Discover the community of creepy crawlies living in the hidden world beneath our feet.
27th Jan, 29th Jan, 3rd Feb, 5th Feb, 10th Feb and 12th Feb 2015 - Various Times | Free, adv booking required
An interactive session learning about natural history.
16th December 2014 to 25th March 2015 - Various Times | Free
Friday 30th January 2015 at 7pm-7.45pm, 8pm-8.45pm and 9pm-9.45pm | £15, mems £13.50
An after hours tour of the collection.
Friday 30th January 2015 at 7pm-8pm and 8.30pm-9.30pm | £10, mems £9
Improvised shows inspired by the fossils and palaeontology at the Museum.
Friday 30th January 2015 - 6.30pm-8.30pm | £15, mems £13.50
Learn more about the dinosaur.
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
2nd December 2014 to 1st March 2015 - 10am-6pm | £8, concs £5
22nd October 2014 to 9th April 2015 | Free
22nd October 2014 to 26th April 2015 - 10am-6pm | Free
23rd January 2015 to 1st January 2016 | Free
22nd October 2014 to 31st December 2015 - 10am-6pm | Free
20th May 2014 to 20th November 2015 - 10am-6pm | Free
17th December 2014 to 17th December 2017 - 10am-5.45pm | Free
Take a stroll through time at Sir John Soane's extraordinary home
13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, Holborn, London, WC2A 3BP
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'.
Events at Sir John Soane's Museum
17th February to 9th May 2015 | Free
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
26th July 2014 to 1st February 2015 | Free
29th November 2014 to 6th July 2015 - Various Times | Free
3rd May 2014 to 15th March 2015 | £13.50
14th November 2014 to 24th October 2015 - Various Times | Free
1st October 2012 to 1st January 2016
28th January 2015
IN THIS ARTICLE
Bank of England Museum
The British Library
Imperial War Museum
Museum of London
National Maritime Museum | Queen's House | Royal Observatory
Natural History Museum
Sir John Soane's Museum
Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum
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