One of the fabulous things about London, England is that it has crap ton of museums to explore. It will likely take you multiple trips to the city to see them all! If you don’t have that luxury, you will have to prioritize, unfortunately. Below are a variety of five museums I highly recommend you check out – I hope at least one intrigues you!
Probably the most famous museum in London, the British Museum is huge. You could easily spend all day here, if you’re a fan of world history. The museum has been open since 1759 and it most definitely expanded over the years as Britain added to its collection. As you wander around the place, hopefully you do so with the understanding that there are a number of objects whose ownership remain disputed (i.e. Britain stole vs liberated them). These items include the Elgin Marbles (Greece), the Benin Bronzes (Nigeria), the Rosetta Stone (Egypt), an Easter Island statue (Chile), and thousands of relics from China. However, I must admit, controversy noted, the museum is still an incredible place. It also hosts a number of interesting events such as lectures and films – check its website for dates and times.
Bonus – a visit to this museum is free!
Dennis Severs’ House
Located in Spitalfields, London, the Dennis Severs’ House is a beautifully detailed time capsule of Huguenot life in London. Not quite a museum, this place is more like living art. Spread over several floors, each room paints a picture of Huguenot silk-weavers and their fluctuating fortunes from the 18th to 20th centuries. The house is dimly lit, forcing you to really engage your senses as you peruse each room. Most senses anyway – don’t touch or taste anything, haha.
You’ll be assigned a specific time at which you can explore the house and you have one hour to do so. You’ll also be instructed to wander the house in silence. The idea is that you are kind of spying on a Huguenot family, getting a glimpse of their everyday life. Just go with it and let yourself be drawn into the experience. Let your imagination run wild as you explore! The motto of the House is: you either see it or you don’t. Oh, and you aren’t allowed to take photos inside.
Natural History Museum
If people history is not your thing, check out the Natural History Museum for specimens in botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology, and zoology. This place is what science class in school should have been like! The museum was established in 1881 so expect to be totally overwhelmed by the sheer number of specimens on display. I almost felt like a child again wandering the grand halls in awe over what earth life has produced over the centuries and millennia. There are also a number of events hosted by the museum so do check out its website for details.
Bonus – This museum is free. Also, the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum are right nearby if you’re not tired of museum exploration!
Old Operating Theatre
The Old Operating Theatre Museum is located in Southwark in the garret of St. Thomas’ Church, likely built at the end of the 17th-century. Despite the museum’s small size, there are so many items on display that you should expect to spend at least an hour here. By the time you leave, you’ll be shaking your head, wondering how humanity survived history! If you have a good imagination, a visit here can get a little gruesome… But it is well worth checking out.
Part of the University College London Museums and Collections, finding the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology can feel a bit like an expedition itself. While it is in the heart of London, it can be hidden by all the university students wandering around. I totally felt like I had the wrong address! But I eventually found it and was happy I did. If you enjoy archaeology or Egyptology, this place is amazing. The Petrie Museum holds over 80,000 objects from Egypt and the Sudan; many are displayed in well organized cabinets. You’ll see pottery, jewelry, tablets, mummy cases, sculptures, iron works, and papyri. There is even one of the earliest pieces of Egyptian linen ever found – it dates to about 5000BC! If you’re a history buff, you’ll likely spend at least a couple hours here.
Bonus – a visit to this museum is free!