London is packed with some of the most exciting museums in Europe and here’s our guide central London’s best that are worth a visit. From history, to art, to science, all offer extensive events programmes and interactive activities for families.
Natural History Museum, South Kensington
There is much to see and do at The Natural History Museum and dinosaurs are the main attraction. This vast Victorian building boasts the biggest, tallest, rarest animals in the world and houses over 70 million plant, animal, fossil, rock and mineral specimens. The main museum is divided into two areas: The Life Galleries, where a life-size plaster cast model of a pre-historic Diplodocus dominates the Central Hall and The Earth Galleries, explore the natural forces that shape our planet and the affect human life is having on it.
This summer’s hot ticket exhibition is ‘Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story’ (Apr 22 – Sep 28)
Nearest tube: South Kensington (District, Piccadilly & Circle Lines) Entry is free but special exhibitions require tickets. http://www.nhm.ac.uk/ Victoria & Albert Museum, South Kensington
The ‘V&A’ is the world’s greatest museum of art and design, representing more than 3,000 years of human creativity. The collections feature historic and modern day materials including architecture, ceramics, fashion, photography, Islamic Middle Eastern art, jewellery and sculpture. Highlights that shouldn’t be missed from the permanent galleries: ‘Islamic Middle East’: includes 19,000 items from the Middle East and North Africa, ranging from the 7th century early Islamic period, to the early 20th century. And the V&A shop is well worth a visit for prints, fabrics and gifts to take home.
The hot ticket exhibition is currently ‘The Glamour of Italian Fashion: 1945-2014 (21 Mar-27 Jul)
Nearest tube: South Kensington (District & Circle Lines) Entry is free but special exhibitions require tickets. http://www.vam.ac.uk/
The Science Museum, South Kensington
With over 15,000 objects on display, the Science Museum will answer questions and then you’ll want to ask more. You can see, touch and experience the major scientific developments of the last 300 years, visit interactive galleries to see the first scientific experiments or go to the amazing IMAX cinema with stunning 3D and 4D simulators. And, for the brave and adventurous, there’s the chance to experience what it’s like to fly with the Red Arrows or blast off into space.
The must see event this summer is The Energy Show; described as ‘explosive family theatre for curious minds’ (22 Jul – 3 Aug)
Nearest tube: South Kensington (District, Piccadilly & Circle Lines) https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk
British Museum, Bloomsbury
Great Russell Street
The British Museum, founded in 1753, is dedicated to human history and culture. The permanent collection includes over 8 million works and is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence, originating from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present. There are two new exhibitions running this summer:
Vikings: life and legend until 22 June 2014
Ancient lives, new discoveries: 22 May – 30 November 2014 http://www.britishmuseum.org
Bank of England Museum, City of London
Threadneedle Street (entrance in Bartholomew Lane)
The Bank of England Museum is located within the Bank of England itself, and tells the story of the Bank of England from its foundation in 1694 to the role it plays today. The historical displays include material drawn from the Bank’s own collections of books, documents, banknotes and coins, and a there is a display of gold, including Roman and modern gold bars, and historical weaponry that was once used to defend the Bank.
Nearest tube station: Bank http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/education/Pages/default.aspx The Churchill War Rooms
Clive Steps, King Charles Street
A popular museum showing visitors what life was like in London during World War II (1939-45). The displays include memorabilia and artefacts from the period as well as interactive displays that bring the story to life. http://www.cwr.iwm.org.uk/
Charles Dickens Museum, Bloomsbury
48 Doughty Street
The museum celebrates one of the greatest novelists in British history and includes over 100,000 items from personal items to artwork and manuscripts. The building is the writer’s only surviving London home and it is said that he wrote two of his most famous stories whilst living there: Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. https://dickensmuseum.com
Sherlock Holmes Museum
221b Baker Street
The world’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, lived at this address from 1881-1904, according to the stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The house is protected by the government due to its “special architectural and historical interest” and the 1st floor study is still faithfully maintained for posterity. http://www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk
28 Shad Thames
The Design Museum champions creative thinking and talent from the world’s best designers and architects. The pioneering programme of exhibitions and educational projects has made it the definitive voice for contemporary design. http://designmuseum.org/a>
London Transport Museum
Covent Garden Piazza
Showcasing London Transport over the centuries – this is a great museum for children to discover the past and to understand how London’s transport system has developed over the years. The collection originated in the 1920s with two Victorian horse buses and early motorbus and the museum’s mission is to conserve the city’s transport heritage for the future. https://www.ltmuseum.co.uk