Must Do's: London Museums
London is a great city (me biased? nah), all be it an expensive one. It's an expensive city to live in and an expensive city to visit, but let's face it, it's pretty high up on most people's travel lists and for good reason. And one of these reasons is museums. London has some of the greatest museums on the planet and they are free, that's right, you read correctly, all national museum's main exhibitions are FREE.
Cue the list:
The Big Three on Museum Row:
The Victoria and Albert Museum
What's There?: Eclectic art and design pieces spanning more than 2000 years.
Must See: The Great Bed of Ware (c 1590). It is simply massive, measuring twice the size of a normal bed and is mentioned in many famous novels and plays, including one of my personal favorites, Twelfth Night.
Natural History Museum
What's There?: One word-DINOSAURS! And Minerals, and Fossils, and Animals, Oh My! A must for families.
Must See: The Iguanodon and Hypsilophodon dinosaur displays in the Central Hall will take your breath away, enough said.
What's There?: Science, Technology, Medicine, and a great IMAX Cinema that features space travel and adventuring through the depths of the oceans. A must for your families, and definitely the best museum for little ones.
Must See: Families-check out the interactive Launch Pad and for 3-6year olds "The Garden". The Clockmakers' Collection will move in from October 2015 including 1,250 items with the majority dating between 1600-1850.
Tube Stop: South Kensington.
Tayah's Take: What is wonderful about these museums is that they are literally next door to one another, so if your time is limited but want a taste of what they have to offer you can simply wander from one to the next. The architecture of these buildings, particularly the Natural History Museum (1873) and the V&A (1899) is beautiful, and will leave you feeling awe-inspired before even looking at the exhibitions.
The British Museum
What's There?: One of the most extensive collections (if not the most extensive) of human history, art, and culture originating from every continent of the world.
Must See: The Rosetta Stone, (no not the language software, though that is a great help in learning to speak another language). This big rock dates back to 196BC and has Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script, and Greek script scrawled across it.
Tube Stop: Holborn, Tottenham Court Road, Russell Square, and Goodge Street are all between 500-800m or 550-875yrds away.
Like the Louvre in Paris, the old meets the new in the architecture of this building.
The Tale of Two Tates:
What's There?: British Art
Must See: Any of the Constable paintings will give you a real flare for British landscape. You must see Sir John Everett Millais' Ophelia (creature of habit, you will soon learn my love for all things Shakespeare inspired).
Tube Stop: Pimlico
What's There? Pretty explanatory, Modern and Contemporary Art
Must See: The Turbine Hall, this building use to be the Bankside Power Station and it is truly vast inside. When the Museum opened in 2000, they did a great job of celebrating it's original function by keeping this space open as to experience the magnitude of the building.
Tube Stop: Southwark, Blackfriars, or cross over the Thames from St Pauls.
The Tate's Great Transport Idea: The Tate to Tate ferry service will take you from the Milbank Millennium Pier outside the Tate Britain to Bankside Pier outside The Tate Modern.
The National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery
What's There? Art and Portraits, both paintings and photographs, go figure.
Must See: How to decide when there is art by Botticelli, Vincent van Gogh, Da Vinci, Monet, Seurat, and even a self portrait of Rembrandt? I would suggest just walking through room to room and seeing what beautiful pieces surround the walls, some famous, perhaps some new to you. The portrait gallery has both historical and famous portraits.
Tube Stop: Charing Cross
Imperial War Museum
What's There? Tells individual stories of lives shaped by war from World War I to present day as well as Britain's role in conflict; harrowing yet incredibly moving and thought provoking.
Must See: The Holocaust Exhibition, extensive, profound, and heartbreaking. Please note teenagers under the age of 14 are not permitted.
Tube Stop: Lambeth North
Tayah's Tip: A few of the museums do after Hours and Late Nights, how cool is that? For instance, The Natural History Museum offers these evenings on the last Friday of every month and they include food and drink among the skeletons while the Science Museum offers Lates for adults only on the last Wednesday of every month with varying events each month. Please head to their individual websites for more details.
Tayah's Take: These are the best free museums in my humble opinion, but there are many more wonderful museums and galleries in London, so go and EXPLORE!.