Visiting London and wondering which London museums are free? Well that and a list of which London museums and galleries are a must see, then this is the post for you! I sometimes forget just how amazing London is.
It’s always so hard recommending places to see and do in the capital for first timers to London as the capital is rich with plenty of things to see and do, whether you are coming for a day’s visit, a couple of days, a week or more. I have shared a one day London itinerary, 10 things to do in London as well as the hidden gem that is Greenwich to where to get the best views in London.
This post all about free London museums and galleries that are too cool to pass up. Some only charge for the for temporary exhibitions, in addition, many also offer tours around the museums, the majority of the tours are also free too. You also have plenty of tours in London that also combine a trip to one or two museums with the many tourist sights in London.
Are London museums free?
Yes, many of the museums in London are free but while that is the case, many also have temporary exhibitions that are paid exhibitions. So for example, if they have artifacts touring the world like Egyptian Nubian pieces or any famous artist art doing the rounds in Europe. You will most likely have to pay entrance to see those items. You can enter the museums for free but certain areas will be restricted to paying visitors to those exhibitions.
Top 10 London Museums And Galleries
Are London museums free? Yes, they are! Majority of them are which makes getting to know about London’s history and those of the world around us easily accessible. Below is my London museums list with the very best of free galleries and museums in London that are simply unmissable and not only for the contents but their buildings are also a treat for folks who love architecture and architecture.
These are London’s top museums, whether you love modern art, classical masterpieces and everything in between. All of the below include London museums opening times to make planning your visit to the museums a lot easier. Be sure to also add the Sherlock Holmes Museum.
The British Museum was established in 1753. It is located the very affluent part of London and close to London’s Westend Theatreland, in the Bloomsbury area of London, United Kingdom. It is one of London’s greatest tourist attractions and boasts one of the finest collections of antiquities in the world containing more than 13 million artefacts from Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt, Greece, the Roman Empire, Benin Empire in Africa, Asia, China and Europe.
The museum offers state-of-the-art multimedia guides detailing the history of over 200 objects and also offers free tours
The British Museum is open daily from 10am-5:30pm and 10am-8:30pm on Fridays. There is no entry fee as admission is free to the Bristish Museum.
Formerly known as Tate Gallery. It was designed in 1897 to be one site but in 2000, Tate expanded into four major sites consisting of Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate St. Ives and Tate Liverpool; however, Tate Modern is the most visited out of the four.
The building also recently extended the site to include Switch House which comes with some of the most stunning view of the capital and among some of the free viewpoints in London.
Not just limited to artwork, the Tate Modern also has a massive collection of photography, performance, film, and live art exhibits.
Entry into the Tate Modern is free to enter (although some temporary exhibitions may have a fee) and it is open from Sunday to Thursday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) then Fridays and Saturdays (10 a.m. to 10 p.m.).
V & A Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum was founded in 1852 and was originally called the South Kensington Museum but was eventually renamed the in 1899 by Queen Victoria.
The V & A Museum is home to millions of objects, artefacts and paintings; the museum also hosts free talks and tours by experts, family and membership events, and even courses and classes on a wide range of topics and subjects.
The Victoria & Albert Museum is open every day (except December 24th, 25th, and 26th) from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., and stays open until 10 p.m. on Fridays.
The gallery was founded in 1889 by Henry Tate. Originally, Tate Britain was meant to be one museum but was eventually expanded into four different sites in 2000 (Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate St. Ives and Tate Liverpool).
From 16th-century Tudor portraits to William Hogarth’s 18th-century moral satires and from John Constable’s ‘oh so English’ landscapes to Victorian Realism, Tate Britain’s collection portrays the changing place of Britain in the world and the way art has contributed to the idea of ‘Britishness’. This is a popular museum for instagrammers as there is a beautiful staircase worthy of a couple of insta shots.
It is open from Monday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (with the last admission at 5:15 p.m.) and closes from December 24th to 26th every year.
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum was founded in 1754 (although it moved to its current location in 1881), and was founded thanks to the generous contributions of Sir Hans Sloane.
The Museum is home to more than 70 million specimens (with at least 500,000 items being added each year), making it one of the largest collections of natural history in the world. It divided into four different coloured zones, each of which focus on specific topics or subjects.
The Green Zone has more of a focus on birds, insects, fossils, and minerals. The Red Zone focuses more on Earth, the planets and the universe. The Blue Zone covers everything from dinosaurs, amphibians, mammals, reptiles and marine invertebrates, and the Orange Zone leads you through the Wildlife Garden (which is only open between April and October).
The Natural History Museum is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5:50 pm. The museum is free for anyone to enter, but there may be charges for some of the temporary exhibitions (unless you’re a museum member).
Located in South Kensington, the Science Museum’s origins can be traced all the way back to 1857 when the South Kensington Museum opened at what is now the Victoria & Albert Museum. In 1909, it was decided that the science and engineering collections at the V&A Museum would be moved to a separate location, and thus the Science Museum was born.
It houses more than 300,000 objects which are spread out over seven floors and categorized by topic (such as medicine, nuclear power, photography, electricity, food, technology, transportation, and much more). Visiting London museums at night has now because a thing with London Science Museum now part of a select few doing the London museum lates where wine is flowing as you explore and experience cool science experiments. This museum is also a winner and among a great list of London museums for kids.
The Museum is open every day (except December 24th, 25th and 26th) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and closes at 7 p.m. on school holidays.
The National Portrait Gallery is a prestigious gallery just off Trafalgar Square in the very heart of London. It was founded in 1856 and it holds one of the largest collections of portraits in the world. Throughout the year it is home to exhibitions (both temporary and permanent) covering all forms of portrait art.
The gallery is open from Saturday – Wednesday from 10:00 – 18:00 and Thursday – Friday: 10:00 – 21:00
Entrance to the National Portrait Gallery is free; however, if you wish to see a particular exhibition that is not part of the permanent collection, you will need to buy a ticket.
The National Gallery is located in Trafalgar Square and the venue was chosen specifically because the historic square is considered by many to be the “heart” of central London.
The National Gallery one of the most famous art museums in the world, it also contains some of the biggest and most diverse painting collections on the planet, with artwork from the French Impressionists, the Italian Renaissance, the late medieval period and much more. Not just limited to artwork, today the Gallery hosts numerous temporary exhibits throughout the year, as well as family workshops for children, and even regular concerts.
The National Gallery is free to enter, and is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Imperial War Museum was originally opened to the public in 1920 when it was located in the Crystal Palace at Sydenham Hill. Since then, the museum has been moved, relocated and re-furbished many times, until it was eventually moved to its current location in the former Bethlem Royal Hospital on Lambeth Road.
Its many exhibits cover everything from the First and Second World Wars to 9/11, as well as the wars in the Falklands, Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia, Korea, and much more.
The War Museum also hosts a variety of free talks and temporary galleries throughout the year, as well as interactive displays for children and even adults to enjoy which include virtual books, videos, and historic games. For additional details including prices and Imperial War Museum London opening hours check out my post.
Greenwich Maritime Museum
The National Maritime Museum first opened in 1937, although the building was originally used as a school for children of seafarers during the 1800s, and has since been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
With over 2 million objects ranging from artifacts, maps, and maritime memorabilia, to exhibits covering famous battles, shipbuilding and even Napoleon, the sections within the National Maritime Museum are as vast as Britain’s naval history itself. There are exhibits dedicated to some of the most famous names and events in Britain’s naval history, such as Captain James Cook and his North-West Passage during the 1770s, and Admiral Horatio Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar. For more on the area where this museum is located, check out my post on Top 10 Things To Do In Greenwich.
The Museum is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. but during the summer months, the ground floor galleries stay open until 6 p.m.
So, have you been to any of the London Museums above?
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