Museums

Discover some of the world's best museums and exhibitions

Free museums in London
Museums

Free museums in London

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Sir John Soane's Museum
Museums

Sir John Soane's Museum

A perfectly amazing place to explore

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Hunterian Museum
Museums

Hunterian Museum

Exhibits include the skeleton of the 7ft 7in tall ‘Irish giant’, and the tooth of a megatherium (an extinct giant sloth)

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Wellcome Collection
Museums

Wellcome Collection

The temporary exhibitions at this recently revamped space are often brilliant

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Foundling Museum
Museums

Foundling Museum

Tells the story of the Foundling Hospital and houses a fine collection of paintings

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Popular exhibitions in London

Colour and Vision
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Colour and Vision

If ever a show was made for Instagram, this is it. The Natural History Museum’s exploration of colour, vision and their roles in the natural world is chock full of beauty. Stuffed hummingbirds glimmer like opals. A case holds dozens of cinnabar moths, scarlet wings spread wide. Even the jars of bisected animal eyes have a gruesome aesthetic appeal. It’s only right that an exhibition about sight should look spectacular. Plenty of thought has clearly gone into the show’s design. Among the first objects are trace fossils left by blind, burrowing creatures in the millennia before the evolution of the eye. They’re spotlit in a black-painted room, which opens to lighter, brighter spaces as we learn how eyesight and, eventually, colour vision developed. Later rooms are a visual feast, their walls decked with eye-popping shades and engaging line drawings of animals. For all its style, though, this is also a show of substance. It paints evolution as a kind of arms race. As the hunters developed sight, the hunted developed defence mechanisms such as camouflage and hues that warned of toxicity. As vision evolved, the world literally grew more colourful in response. Objects and information are the focus, rather than fancy interactives, but one touch screen offers the chance to experience what the world looks like to a snail (black, white and blurry), a dragonfly (psychedelic) and a bulldog (as it does to humans, but less colourful). It becomes clear that the shades that seem to make u

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Travel Photographer of the Year
Art

Travel Photographer of the Year

Explore the world without getting on a plane at this free exhibition of awe-inspiring images. The winning entries of the Travel Photographer of the Year 2015 are on display at the University of Greenwich's new building, next to Greenwich Park. What began in Chris and Karen Coe’s kitchen in 2003 has grown to become a highly regarded photography prize receiving entries from over 100 countries. Jump into the Peruvian Andes, the foothills of the Himalayas and the Namib-Naukluft National Park in Namibia via these prize-winning shots. Often the images are the result of both extreme luck and extreme skill, not only do you have to be in the right place at the right time, you need to be ready to press the button and have remembered to take off the lens cap. You’re guaranteed to leave feeling inspired to snap and shoot so it’s worth flagging up the closing date for the 2016 edition: October 1. For details visit http://www.tpoty.com/awards/how-to-enter

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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The BFG in Pictures
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The BFG in Pictures

Unlike the Big Friendly Giant’s ears, this exhibition of original drawings – some on display for the first time – is pretty tiny, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in charm. Quentin Blake himself has provided text for the labels (he is the gallery’s founder, after all), meaning they’re extra loveable and a little fact-light, but the joy here is being able to almost press your nose up to the beautiful illustrations that are so familiar and yet still so exciting to look at.  The two-dozen-odd frames include a guide to drawing the BFG, and there’s a colouring table with a wonderful activity sheet for smaller visitors, drawn by Blake, which is a good thing as they would find the exhibition itself fairly dry. But as a grown-up who wants to relive the magic of Dahl’s stories it’s hard not to get excited about the first ever drawings of a snozzcumber.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Jukebox, Jewkbox! A Century on Shellac and Vinyl
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Jukebox, Jewkbox! A Century on Shellac and Vinyl

Go on a magical musical tour through the history of records at this beautifully designed and satisfyingly informative exhibition on the top floor of Camden’s Jewish Museum. You’ll be greeted by a row of antique gramophones and the story of how music came to be widely played on vinyl, told with a focus on contributions from Jewish inventors and businessmen. The second half of the display will draw you in with visuals rather than sounds; it’s essentially four walls of record sleeves, punctuated by information panels that reveal why some of the Jewish faces pictured have ‘blacked up’, which religious records made their production companies rich, how the punk movement was born and why Barbra Streisand is the modern Sophie Tucker. And make sure you leave time to listen to them all – the retro jukebox will allow you to play any of the 100-odd singles on display, or you can grab some headphones and listen to the tracks on ‘JewTube’ on the iPads provided, then learn more about the artists in the specially designed audio commentary. This exhibition could be the personification of a particularly interesting BBC4 music documentary, and it’ll delight anybody who’s ever spun a record.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Real to Reel: A Century of War Movies
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Real to Reel: A Century of War Movies

Like many of you, I’ve long wanted to see the Santa hat Jake Gyllenhaal wore on his knob in ‘Jarhead’ up close. So it’s a tribute to the scope of this not-massive show on the history of war in cinema that it gives you the chance to do just that.  In 1916, cameramen were allowed to record the build-up and action of the Battle of the Somme. The resulting film was part documentary, part propaganda. Seen by 20 million people back in Blighty, it inspired, appalled and established many of the themes and paradoxes around the way that war has been shown on screen in the 100 years since.  There’s a lot to see here, from a brilliant montage of changing tastes in depicting D-Day, to Disney’s little-known classic ‘Victory Through Air Power’. There are even – inspired! – the models from Aardman’s ‘Great Escape’ parody ‘Chicken Run’. Among the canonical classics (‘Paths of Glory’, ‘Carve Her Name with Pride’) there are nods to naughty teatime treats such as ‘Where Eagles Dare’, as well as emotive modern outings including ‘War Horse’, although there are significant omissions: no ‘Ivan’s Childhood’, no ‘Come and See’.  Trainspotter types (not me, obviously) will enjoy the artefacts, such as the RAF uniform David Niven wore in ‘A Matter of Life and Death’, and a chair from Rick’s bar in ‘Casablanca’. If the show soft-pedals on the death and maiming of actual battle, it reflects what we’ve learned in 100 years of near-continuous conflict: that we as the audience can only take so much, and t

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Check out more great exhibitions in London

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Science Museum
Museums

Science Museum

The Science Museum features seven floors of educational and entertaining exhibits, including the Apollo 10 command module and a flight simulator

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Geffrye Museum
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Geffrye Museum

Housed in a set of 18th-century almshouses, the Geffrye Museum offers a vivid physical history of the English interior. Displaying original furniture, textiles and decorative arts, the museum recreates a sequence of typical middle-class living rooms from 1600 to the present. It is a fascinating way to take in domestic history. The Geffrye Museum also has an airy restaurant overlooking the gardens, which include a herb garden and a series of period garden 'rooms' with period seating (open Apr 1 to Oct 31, during museum opening hours). Tours of the restored almshouses take place regularly, as do children's activities and workshops (see the website for details).

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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British Museum
Museums

British Museum

One of the world's oldest museums, the British Museum is one of London's greatest cultural treasures

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Natural History Museum
Museums

Natural History Museum

The handsome Alfred Waterhouse building houses a collection that contains some 70 million plant, animal, fossil, rock and mineral specimens

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Design Museum
Museums

Design Museum

Opened in 1989 (following its original incarnation as the Boilerhouse established in the V&A by Terence Conran), the Design Museum by Tower Bridge encompasses modern and contemporary industrial and fashion design, graphics, architecture and multimedia. The smart Blueprint Café has a balcony overlooking the Thames. You can buy design books in the museum shop, as well as products related to the exhibitions. Exhibitions are usually accompanied by a programme of workshops for children.

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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V&A
Museums

V&A

The V&A houses one of the world's greatest collections of decorative arts, in such varied fields as ceramics, sculpture, portrait miniatures and photographs

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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