The Natural History Museum

Located in South Kensington, The National History Museum , is just one of the 3 museums along Exhibition road. Built and opened in 1881, it is well known for its dinosaur exhibition.  There are life and earth science specimens within its  5 main collections – Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Paleontology and Zoology.

There are many different interactive exhibits in The National History Museum.  The Dinosaurs gallery is the most popular amongst children and adults alike.  The Mammals Gallery contains a life-sized model of a blue whale.  The Creepy Crawlies exhibition is also really popular with kids.  There is also the Cocoon were you can look into the labs and see scientists at work. The best part about the museum is that it is free, apart from a few special exhibits.

There is a state of the art Darwin Centre, where all the displays are interactive.  There are also specimens collected by Darwin when he made his Beagle voyage on display.  In the Darwin Centre Tank room is the giant squid which is the second largest living invertebrate in the world.  Called  Architeuthis dux, but nicknamed ‘Archie’, it is 8.62 metres long, it has eyes the size of footballs and was caught in 2004 (poor squid).

There is lots of fun for kid at the Museum, including  “Investigate,” a science lab for 7 to 14 year olds. There is also the Earth Lab where children can handle some of the geological specimens in the museum. Under 7s can take part in the activities with Explorer backpacks, where they borrow an Explorer Backpack (free of charge) and with their activity booklet, they explore the Museum for a couple of hours.

There are also a lot of exhibitions for the adults which is part of the Museum after hours. Some of them include the Crime Scene Live where you can step into the shoes of a real crime scene investigator. There is also the After Hours Dino Snores where you have a 3 course dinner in the Museum’s restaurant and get to sleep in the Central Hall under the Diplodocus skeleton.

The National History Museum also puts on outdoor activities.  From November 2 nd until the beginning of January, there is an ice rink outside the museum.  With the backdrop of the museum, this is one of the best places to iceskate in London.  Do all your Christmas shopping in Westfield or Oxford Street then head over the Museum for some ice skating before retreating back to your London apartment .

It is best to visit the Museum outside of school holidays as it can be up to an hour wait to get in. It is open daily from 10:00 to 17:50 and only closed from the 24 th to 26 th of December inclusive.  The nearest tube is South Kensington on the District Line and Piccadilly Line.  There are many bus routes including 14, 49, 70, 74, 345, 360, 414 and C1 that stop near the Museum. The 360 stops in Exhibition Road.

Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/aunali2000/5547310266/

The National Gallery

In the very heart of London is Trafalgar Square, commemorating the Battle of Trafalgar in 1808, it is a tourist attraction and famous in its own right. It is also home to another British institution, The National Gallery. Belonging to the British People, like the British Museum, everyone and anyone can visit the main collection free of charge (some special exhibitions do charge). Unlike The Louvre, the National Gallery is not comprised of a Royal Collection, rather it was founded when the British Government bought a small collection of paintings in an estate sale in 1824. Its been in public hands ever since, and has thankfully grown considerably to become on the finest, collections in the world. [Read more...]

The British Museum

One of the largest and oldest purpose-built museums in the world, The British Museum is also one of the finest and easiest to visit. Founded in 1753, by an Act of Parliament, it was the first museum of its type in the world. Belonging to the Nation rather than the Church or the King, the museum was to be free to people from all walks of life. Its collection was to contain the nation’s most treasured books, as well as curios and other artefacts of historical, cultural and scientific importance, for all to see for free. A standard is has never stepped away from, the Museum is still free today for all those who wish to visit. [Read more...]

The National Portrait Gallery

Adjacent to the National Gallery, just off from Trafalgar Square on the smaller St Martin’s Place is Britain’s National Portrait Gallery. Like its sister institution, the National Gallery, it is free for all to visit the collection. But unlike most galleries, the paintings are selected and displayed not in recognition of the artist but for the person they painted. As a result the collection contains, paintings, busts, sculptures and photographs of prominent British Citizens and subjects. Previously, the only two conditions were to be of significant standing (e.g historically important, or more generally famous) and to have died. In 1969, the second condition was removed, and portraits of those still living were allowed into the Gallery. Today, that means you can see over a hundred and sixty thousand portraits of historical figures, the famous, dignitaries and royalty both living and long dead. [Read more...]

Tate Modern

Part of the wider ‘Tate Group’, which includes ‘Tate Britain’ ,’Tate Liverpool’, ‘Tate St Ives’ and ‘Tate Online’, the Tate Modern Gallery is home to Britain’s Modern Art Collection (broadly defined as everything post 1900). Despite only opening in 2000, it is currently the most visited modern art gallery in the world with nearly five-million visitors per year. It is also completely free to visit the main collection, special exhibitions sometimes charge admission. [Read more...]

In a lovely square, just an easy stroll of Marylebone High Street (also known as Marylebone Village, despite being in the centre of London) stands an original 19th Century London Townhouse which for the past century has housed ‘The Wallace Collection’, a free museum and gallery. Housing over five thousand objects, including the largest collection of 18th Century French furniture and a world class collection of paintings from the 18th Century and the ‘Old Masters’, it was bequeathed to the nation by Lady Wallace in 1900.