Museums abound in London. The widening of affluence in the 18th and 19th centuries, the desire to do the Grand Tour and bring home a little light statuary for mumsie, the need to collect generally, they are within our DNA. And as the wealthy wanted to leave their mark for posterity what better way that building a grand edifice and showing off all that had been accumulated. Couple this with a post Enlightenment drive for knowledge and the benefits today for Londoners and those who come to benefit from slide into Disneyfication are apparent.
The museums are possibly the best reason to visit this little town of ours. They are, no exaggeration, awesome. Many, most of the biggest, are free. There are so many, not exactly countless but, by heck, a lot. So lets take 10 I really rather adore:
The British Museum
The daddy of them all
since they turned the decrepit courtyard into a stunning internal space – the great court
off which you can follow the history of civilisation
and understand why
so many nations remain pissed off with the British
because we have something iconic of theirs, this is the place for you.
The Science museum
As the name suggests it’s all about science and includes so many hands on exhibits the big kid in you will not want to leave
health warning, it is easy to forget the child you came with, as you toy with a little bit of nuclear fission
The Natural History Museum
Again what it says on the tin –
avoid the British school holidays as this one is rammed.
Dinosaurs remain popular
but, for me, the earth galleries showing how the earth really doesn’t like being interfered with is the top choice.
The Victoria and Albert Museum
I’m not sure how to categorise this –
it covers clothes and fashion and all sorts of interior decor down the ages.
Huge building and inside a mix of some wonderful things, especially some of the speical exhibitions: generally it is laid out superbly
and, here, the Madjeski Courtyard, is an excellent spot to pause. Warning: don’t go if you don’t get porcelain.
The Cartoon Museum
Small and beautifully set up, with the history of cartoons from their early satirical beginnings.
It’s a great place to understand why a free and caustic press is essential.
The Dickens Museum
Ok so I’m a writer, what do you expect? This small museum, one you pay for sadly, is based in Dickens home in Bloomsbury, in John Street.
It’s a lovely part of town, redolent of writers and subversives, two types that seem inextricably linked. I like it a lot.
The London Transport Museum
Maybe it’s me but I like transport. Whatever. There’s a picture in my C is for Covent Garden Post, here
The Museum of London
London from its earliest settlers keeps revealing itself as new developments go deep;
Right now it is especially exciting as two new deep level tube lines – Crossrail east-west and north-south – are being built and yet more intriguing archaeology is emerging.
London’s planning controls (this isn’t unique to London) require any development – whether private or public sector –
to give the archaeologists time to explore whatever is opened up and the results end up here
The Geffrye Museum
I had to, didn’t I? Named after a Lord Mayor it’s the museum of the home.
Best of all it takes you over to Hoxton, on the fringes of east London. You can take in the Museum of Childhood, too, a shortish walk over to Bethnal Green.
Also explore any side street and you are sure to see the stunning street art that abounds round here.
The Horniman Museum
My local museum in South London for which the word ‘eclectic’ could have been designed.
From ancient, history through cultures around the world to natural history this place, near Dulwich has everything.
And it’s near me: what is not to like?
As I wandered around these stunning spots I realised there were so many more
The Camera (the coffee was good).
What museum have you found that you love?
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