Visit the Museum of London

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Museum of London map
Museum of London, 150 London Wall, BarbicanEC2Y 5HN
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Opening times and price

Opening hours:
10 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Sun); Last entry 20 mins before closing
Visiting hours are subject to change
Ticket cost:
Adults free entry
Time required:
A typical visit to Museum of London lasts 2 hours (approx)

Getting to Museum of London

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London bus fares
Barbican CRC H&C MET, Mansion House CRC DSC, Moorgate CRC H&C MET NRN, St. Paul’s CNT
The nearest train station to Museum of London is Barbican
London underground fares

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Craig recommends… Here’s my latest Museum of London review. You can learn more about the city’s history at the Museum of London in Docklands. You can see drawings and paintings of historical London in the Guildhall Art Gallery and Bank of England Museum.

History of London

Museum of London at the Barbican

The exhibition begins in the London Before London gallery, which tells the history of the city before it was even there, when the population probably numbered under fifty.

It explores some of the early dwellings and archaeological finds that have discovered along the Thames, with over 300 offerings, bronze tools and iron swords that were thrown in the river to please the gods.

Roman London

The second gallery covers the history of Roman Londinium, which grew up around 50 AD as a means to link their capital Colchester with the rest of the country.

Roman remains from Londinium

You can see lots of Roman finds like silver coins and tablets, lots of pottery and wine amphora, and a 4th-century coffin of a young Roman lady.

Pride of place goes to the Temple of Mithras, which was dug up in Walbrook and moved to the Museum of London.

Saxon and Medieval London

The Great Fire of London

This gallery spans the years 4 AD to 1500 – a stretch of time that covers the Viking raids, the Norman Conquest, the Black Death, and the medieval wars with Scotland.

London was a thriving city by this time, with the earliest versions of Westminster Abbey, Old St. Paul’s and Old London Bridge.

London during the Tudors and Stuarts

The Tudor and Stuart gallery covers a rich period of history from Henry VIII to the Great Fire of London in 1666.

Rose Theatre model at the Museum of London

You will see the devastation wrought by Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the religious terror inflicted by Bloody Mary, and Charles I’s war with Parliament in the English Civil War.

You will see some early pictures of the London skyline, some early London street maps, and a reconstruction of the Rose Theatre (a contemporary of William Shakespeare’s Globe).

The Great Fire of London exhibition includes a few of the burnt remains that have been dug up around Pudding Lane, and you can see how London rose from the ashes with some of the original maps and documents of the damage, and Christopher Wren’s ambitious rebuilding plans.

Lord Mayor’s Coach

Georgian London

The 17th and early 18th-century saw London blossom into a centre of scientific learning. You can read about the Guilds and Corporation in the City of London, and see the Lord Mayor’s coach from 1757. This gilded trap is covered in carvings and painted panels by the Florentine artist Cipriani, and is still used every year in the Lord Mayor’s Parade.

History of Modern London

Victorian shopping street

The World City gallery covers the pre-war years, from Queen Victoria and the Suffragettes, right up through World Wars I and II. You can walk down a full-sized Victorian street, complete with shop fronts and lamplights, and see how The Blitz destroyed large parts of London, before being rebuilt in the post-war years.

Craig’s review of the Museum of London

This review originally appeared in his London blog

The Museum of London is probably my favourite museum in London, but of course I am a huge fan of London. It’s basically just a load of posters, photos, bones and bricks, but the more you know about the city the better it becomes. If just you’re here as a tourist then it might not do much.

Pottery exhibits at the Museum of London

It begins with all the prehistoric stuff. I always skip straight past this room because it’s just bones and stones. They’ve got a lot of arrow heads as well, and axeheads, lots of bits of flint (boring stuff). The most interesting display is probably the tusks and skulls of the hippos and elephants who used to roam around Trafalgar Square 200,000 years ago.

It starts getting better when you reach the Roman exhibits. You can see intricate little models of the basilica, forum and Roman wharves, and it’s hard to believe it was real. It almost looks like Rome! I always curse Boudicca for burning it down, because imagine how fantastic it would be if we still had all this stuff still standing.

Part of the old Roman wall in London

You can see lots of busted statues, pots and blocks of concrete they’ve dug up from, lots of coins and jewellery, and some big wooden timbers and mosaics, which are definitely worth a look. Note: don’t forget to look out of the window at this point, because you can see the remains of London’s Roman wall downstairs in the street.

Then you move onto the Medieval era, and a gallery about the Tudors and Stuarts, which includes a lot of religious treasures looted from the Dissolution of the Monasteries. There are plenty more cups and plates and busted statues and stones, and a rather gruesome movie about the Black Death.

Cell door from Newgate Prison

They have some interesting information about William Shakespeare, including a model of the original Rose Theatre. They’s also got some great paintings of the London skyline and some copper plates from the Copperplate Map.

They’ve got a nice little exhibition on the Great Fire of London here (albeit very small), where you can see some of the famous fire paintings, and the burnt timbers and bricks that they’ve dug up from the City.

Then comes all the Georgian stuff. My favourite display in this section is an original cell door from Newgate Prison. Have a close look at that wooden wall with all the prisoners’ scribblings scratched into it… that’s a proper punishment, being locked inside there.

Georgian pleasure garden party

Check out their spooky pleasure garden… it’s practically pitch black inside and full of Georgian ladies and dandified fellas, all dressed up and having a chat. A bit of birdsong and a few Handel tunes flit through the trees and it’s all very pleasant and strange, and weird and peaceful at the same time.

Victorian street at the Museum of London

I love their Victorian street. They built about fifteen full-size shopfronts that you can walk around, with the sounds of the street pumped in through the speakers. The windows are filled with Victorian goods: toys and cards, fags and tobacco, biscuits and crackers, powders and snuff, top hats and tails, and even a little post office, pub and public urinal!

Then you move onto the pre-war and post-war years. There’s a big display about women’s suffrage, with some gas masks, ration cards and posters from the war years. Then you just get a few odds and sods like a red telephone box, a miniskirts, and some early home computers from the 1980s. It’s a lot more about Britain by this point, though, rather than the city of London, so it doesn’t interest me so much.

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  • pearlyqueen – “There are lots of things to enjoy here, and some things that you might want to skip. I am not a big fan of looking at bones and pots and little bits of flint, so I pretty much skipped the whole first section which deals with pre-history. But things are much more interesting in the next section which deals with roman London. There are lots of impressive remains and some reconstructions of what it looked like. I couldnt help but think of rome, and wonder wh… more”

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