Museums in London

Here’s our guide to the best museums in London. Start with the British Museum, Natural History Museum, Science Museum and V&A. We’ve also got a calendar of upcoming exhibitions. You can search for exhibitions today, tomorrow and this weekend, or search by month: February, March and April.

Recommendations Craig recommends… The Natural History Museum and Science Museum are good for kids. The British Museum and V&A are worth a try for adults.

18 Stafford Terrace

Edward Linley Sambourne’s Victorian home still looks as it did in the late 19th-century, when he worked as an illustrator for Punch magazine.

Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum

Fleming’s old lab at St. Mary’s Hospital where the Nobel Prize-winning doctor discovered penicillin is now a museum.

Apsley House

The Duke of Wellington’s mansion on Hyde Park Corner still contains his collection of artworks and memorabilia from his campaigns and Battle of Waterloo.

Bank of England Museum

This museum tells the story of money and the Bank of England, and has lots of interesting old paintings and photos.

Benjamin Franklin House

Benjamin Franklin was one of America’s Founding Fathers, and helped to draft the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution.

Billingsgate Roman House & Baths

The archaeological remains of a Roman house from 200 AD, buried in the basement of an office on Lower Thames Street.

British Museum

One of the world’s great museums, it has an extensive collection of objects from Egypt, Assyria, Greece and Rome, plus Asia, Africa and the Americas.

Carlyle’s House

This terraced house contains many of the original fittings from the days of Thomas Carlyle – a gifted essayist from the Victorian era.

Charles Dickens Museum

The Victorian novelist lived here during the 1830s when he was writing Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby and the Pickwick Papers.

Churchill War Rooms

The atmospheric tunnels under Whitehall still look exactly as they did when Winston Churchill held meetings with his wartime cabinet here during the Blitz.

Clink Prison Museum

Located on the site of the notorious medieval gaol, the Clink Prison Museum is less-scary than the London Dungeon and is a good day out for kids.

Cutty Sark

During the 1870s this famous old clipper ship used to sail to China in world record times. Now you can explore its cabins and walk around the deck.

Design Museum

The Design Museum takes the best of 20th and 21st-century design and reveals how consumers’ tastes have changed through the decades.

Dr. Johnson’s House

This 18th-century Georgian townhouse was home to the writer Samuel Johnson, who is probably best known for writing the first English dictionary.

Faraday Museum

Housed in the basement of the Royal Institution, this is where Faraday experimented and discovered electro-magnetic induction and magnetic rotation.

Florence Nightingale Museum

St. Thomas’s Hospital has a museum about the Victorian nurse Florence Nightingale and her work during the Crimean War.

Garden Museum

St. Mary-at-Lambeth houses a museum about the early days of gardening, and has a graveyard out the back containing the tomb of Captain Bligh.

Geffrye Museum

This unusual museum explores how home life has changed from the 1600s to the present day. It is housed inside an old 18th-century almshouse.

Golden Hinde

This replica of the ship which carried Sir Francis Drake around the world has plenty of decks and cabins for your kids to walk around and explore.

Guards’ Museum

This museum tells the history of the Foot Guards: the Coldstream, Grenadier, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards, and contains Waterloo memorabilia.

Handel & Hendrix in London

This building was once home to two very different musicians: the German composer Handel and 1960s guitar hero Jimi Hendrix.

HMS Belfast

This cruiser fought in World War II and the Korean War, and you can walk through its engine rooms, missile rooms, mess hall and cabins.

Household Cavalry Museum

Discover the history of the Household Cavalry, and look through a window into the stables where they keep the horses.

Hunterian Museum

Housed inside the Royal College of Surgeons, this museum is filled with specimens, skeletons and the fossilised remains of old animals and humans.

Imperial War Museum

This popular museum tells the story of the British Army from the days of the Empire, through World Wars I and II, right up to the Falkands and Gulf.

Jewel Tower

The Jewel Tower dates back to the 14th-century Palace of Westminster, and houses a small exhibition about the history of the British Parliament.

Keats’ House

The famous poet John Keats lived here from 1818 to 1820 and houses some of his original letters, manuscripts and old Regency furnishings.

Leighton House Museum

This house was once home to the Victorian artist Lord Frederic Leighton, and contains paintings by the Pre-Raphaelites.

London Canal Museum

This museum tells the story of the Regent’s Canal and how they transported the cargos by barge. There’s also a small dock out the back.

London Film Museum

It’s more of a James Bond museum than a film museum, because all it contains are costumes, cars and props from the James Bond movies.

London Fire Brigade Museum

A collection of old fire engines, pumps and uniforms, plus some information about the Blitz and Great Fire of London in 1666.

London Mithraeum

The ancient remains of the Temple of Mithras, one of the best preserved buildings of Roman London, can be found inside the Bloomberg building.

Museum of London

The history of London from prehistoric times, through the Roman, medieval, Tudor and Victorian eras, right up to the Blitz and Swinging Sixties.

Museum of London Docklands

This museum tells the story of how London’s river became one of the world’s busiest docks, and what it’s used for today.

National Army Museum

This museum tells the history of the British military from the Battle of Agincourt, through the Battle of Waterloo, and right past World War II.

National Maritime Museum

The National Maritime Museum has a collection of ships and historic artefacts, like Nelson’s jacket from the Battle of Trafalgar.

Natural History Museum

A great museum for kids if they’re interested in dinosaurs. It also contains a whole zoo’s-worth of stuffed mammals, fish and birds.

Old Operating Theatre

An 19th-century herb garrett and operating theatre which miraculously survived intact at the very top of St. Thomas’s Church.

Petrie Museum

The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology has cabinets full of ancient Egyptian pottery, sarcophagi tombstones and pieces of decorated jewellery.

Postal Museum

This museum contains much more than an exhibition about letters and stamps – you can also ride a mail train through the tunnels under London.

Royal Mews

A working stables for the horses that pull the royal carriages. You can also see the Queen’s limousines, State Coaches and the Gold State Coach.

St. John’s Gate

This was once part of Clerkenwell Priory, the headquarters of the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem who gained fame during the Crusades.

Science Museum

A great museum for kids if they like space. It also has lots of historic machines and vehicles, a 3D IMAX cinema, plus some exciting flight simulators.

Sherlock Holmes Museum

221b Baker Street has been done up to look like the home of the fictional detective, filled with memorabilia and waxworks.

Sir John Soane’s Museum

This house has to be seen to be believed! It’s crammed full of ancient artefacts and even has an Egyptian pharaoh’s sarcophagi.

Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum contains a collection of early buses, taxis and trains, from horse-drawn coaches right up to the Routemasters.

Victoria & Albert Museum

Highlights include the Cast Room and Raphael’s Cartoons, drawn as preparatory studies for his work inside the Sistine Chapel.

Wallace Collection

Part art gallery and part museum, the Wallace Collection has medieval armour, French furnishings, and famous works like The Laughing Cavalier.
Imaginary Cities: British Library A small exhibition that uses digital technology to transform the library's collection of historic maps to create fictional cityscapes
Writing: Making Your Mark This exhibition will explore the history of writing from ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs right up to our modern communication tools
Yoga class at the Natural History Museum Energise your body with an early-morning yoga class followed by a live gong bath at the Natural History Museum
After-hours Victorian surgery demonstration Visit the 19th-century Operating Theatre after-hours and witness what a Victorian operation was like from the stands
London Festival of Railway Modelling The London Festival of Railway Modelling will have over 40 working layouts and 120 exhibitors selling paint and trains.
Sir John Soane: Building the Bank of England See some of Sir John Soane's designs and learn how the architect was inspired by the ancient world
Craig’s review of Imperial War Museum When was the last time that Britain lost a war? Let me think... apart from the Romans and the Vikings and the Normans, and the Hundred Years War, and the First Boer War, and that war against Mel Gibson in Scotland, I can't think of a single time that someone actually managed to beat us. Obviously you can't include the American War of Independence because that was technically against… continued
Craig’s review of Leighton House Museum The Leighton House Museum is the architectural equivalent of opening up a brown paper bag and finding a diamond inside. This guy was an artist, and he lived inside a work of art. Don't be put off by the photo of the front. This house will never win any awards for the outside. It's not until you get beyond the entrance hall that you'll understand what all the fuss is about. The kind… continued
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