London has loads of amazing museums, but which are the best free ones for people who are looking for non-art options?
Today we are talking about one of my favourite things about London – it’s incredible museums, with a focus on the museums for those who say that museums can be boring and stale. These will be fun, and exciting museums that have interactive exhibits, are dynamic, and will be sure to blow you away with the things you can learn.
The great thing about many of London’s museums is that they are free to enter for the standing exhibits. However, there are several rotating exhibits and special events which generally do have a cost for entry, so make sure to check out what is happening at each of these museums before planning your trip, as you may be amazed at the special events they have on offer!
The Museum of London
First up is the Museum of London, and if you are going to live or visit London, this should definitely be on your list of where to go. What’s great about this museum is that you can journey through London’s past, all the way from prehistoric times when the capital changed from Roman to Saxon rule, to turbulent times including wars, fires, and plague.
You’ll be brought through the full history through Victorian London to modern times, with the ability to view the amazing Olympic history that London has had. A great interactive museum that gives you so much to discover, and you’ll have many reasons to return.
Location: London Wall
Nearest stations: St Paul’s, Barbican, and Moorgate
Horniman Museum and Gardens
The Horniman Museum and Gardens has been around since the Victorian times and has an extensive collection of anthropology, musical instruments, and natural history. There are 16 acres of beautiful gardens to explore and discover, a new aquarium, a butterfly house, and even an overstuffed walrus!
This museum is truly a south London treasure, and is a great place to bring the kids on any given weekend, they even offer tours of the museum several times a week for new visitors or for people who want to make sure they get the most out of their visit.
Location: Forest Hill
Nearest stations: Forest Hill Station (5-10 minute walk), plus several bus routes from Central London, Croydon, and Surrey.
Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum is the world’s leading museum of war. Founded during the First World War, and displayed over 6 floors, the museum shows a vast collection of objects: from uniforms to photographs, vehicles to films, weapons to works of art, each with a story to tell.
Nearest stations: Lambeth North, Southwark, and Elephant & Castle
If you want to experience the wonders of science first hand, then you must visit the Science Museum, with over 15,000 objects including Apollo 10 command capsule, and Stephenson’s rocket. There are interactive galleries that you can directly engage with such as getting to feel what it’s like to fly with the Red Arrows, or blast off into space in their 3D and 4D simulators, or you can even watch a film in their IMAX theatre.
There is also now a permanent collection: Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries, which houses the most significant medical collections in the world, artefacts include the world’s first MRI scanner, robotic surgery equipment, and Fleming’s penicillin mould.
Whilst at this museum, you can make a whole day of the visit and head to the stunning V&A Museum and the Natural History museum, two of my favourites!
Location: Exhibition Road, South Kensington
Nearest stations: South Kensington or Knightsbridge
Natural History Museum
Last but not least is the Natural History Museum, located in one of London’s most iconic and significant buildings, the Natural History Museum is also located on Exhibition road in South Kensington.
Housing one of the world’s most impressive dinosaur collections, plus 80 million other specimens, the museum offers a dynamic programme of permanent and temporary exhibitions. There are even after hours programmes including early morning yoga, silent discos, and even dinosaur sleepovers (something I am definitely adding to my 2020 must do list!).
Location: Exhibition road, South Kensington
Nearest stations: South Kensington and Knightsbridge
So those are my top 5 non-art museums in London, and whilst they are all free, there are several special exhibits hosted throughout the year which do charge admission fees.
I have several favourites, and if you find yourself loving a particular museum too, then you can make the most of accessing the exhibits and much more by becoming a member. The benefits also include preference for access, as well as discounts to museum shops.
The other great option is the National Art Pass which provides 50% discount off major exhibitions throughout London.
Do let me know in the comments your favourite museums to visit, whether in London or in your own city, I’d love to find some new treasures to visit!