Free museums in London

Culture needn't cost the earth. Here's our guide to free-entry museums in the capital

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You need not worry if you're sightseeing on a budget as plenty of London's top museums are free to explore. Head to the British Museum for some free art and culture, the Natural History Museum for amazing artefacts, learn something new at the Science Museum or discover art and design at the V&A all free of charge.

Here's our guide to the best free museums in London and you can find them all on our map below.

Free museums in central London

British Museum

Officially the country's most popular tourist attraction, the British Museum opened to the public in 1759 in Montagu House, which then occupied this site. The current building is a neoclassical marvel built in 1847 by Robert Smirke, one of the pioneers of the Greek Revival style. The most high profile addition since then was Lord Foster's popular glass-roofed Great Court, open since 2000 and now claimed to be 'the largest covered public square in Europe'.

  1. 44 Great Russell St, WC1B 3DG
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Grant Museum of Zoology

The Grant Museum of animal skeletons, taxidermy specimens and creatures preserved in fluid retains the air of the house of an avid Victorian collector while posing questions about issues in life sciences today. The collection includes remains of many rare and extinct animals, such as a dodo and the skeleton of the zebra-like quagga, which was hunted out of existence in the 1880s.

  1. Rockefeller Building, University College London, WC1E 6DE
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The Library and Museum of Freemasonry

Freemasons' Hall, the eye-catchingly bombastic stone building where Long Acre becomes Great Queen Street, is the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England and the principal meeting place for Masonic Lodges in London. It was built between 1927 and 1932 as a memorial to the Freemasons who died in WWI. In addition to the Grand Temple, there is a library and museum, committee rooms and administrative offices. The library and museum houses a collection of Masonic material, accessible to the general public.

  1. Freemasons Hall, 60 Great Queen St, WC2B 5AZ
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Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

Designed by George Grey Wornum, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) building is a fine example of 1930s architecture. The Grade II-listed building hosts regular talks and exhibitions. There's also a shop and a café with an outdoor terrace, in addition to one of the finest architectural libraries in the world, which contains around four million items and is open to non-members who bring along photo ID.

  1. 66 Portland Place, W1B 1AD
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Sir John Soane's Museum

Designed by architect Sir John Soane to house his own collection of paintings and architectural salvage, the museum is a tranquil place full of unexpected treasures, with a wealth of intriguing natural lighting effects best viewed on a bright day. On the first Tuesday of each month, Sir John Soane's Museum stays opens late and some parts are lit by candlelight.

  1. 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, WC2A 3BP
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Tate Britain

Tate Modern gets all the attention, but the original Tate Gallery, founded by sugar magnate Sir Henry Tate, has a broader and more inclusive brief. Housed in a stately Portland stone building on the riverside, Tate Britain is second only to the National Gallery when it comes to British art. The historical collection includes work by Hogarth, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Constable (who gets three rooms to himself) and Turner (whose works are displayed in the grand Clore Gallery).

  1. Millbank, SW1P 4RG
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Wallace Collection

Built in 1776, this handsome house contains an exceptional collection of 18th-century French furniture, painting and objets d'art, as well as an amazing array of medieval armour and weaponry. It all belonged to Sir Richard Wallace, who, as the illegitimate offspring of the fourth Marquess of Hertford, inherited in 1870 the treasures his father had amassed in the last 30 years of his life.

  1. Hertford House, Manchester Square, W1U 3BN
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Find London's best free museums






Users say

7 comments
Litchi L
Litchi L

many international students may need this.


Miroslava
Miroslava

Thank you for so many helpful informationa. So far I'm using Time Out for last year to get the most important tips while travelling)

Rosie
Rosie

It is a shame The Horniman Museum didn't make that list. We took my daughters there last summer and they both had a wonderful time - the gardens and the nature walk in particular are great. A definite must if you're planning a trip with younger children - especially in the Summer.

Rosie
Rosie

It is a shame The Horniman Museum didn't make that list. We took my daughters there last summer and they both had a wonderful time - the gardens and the nature walk in particular are great. A definite must if you're planning a trip with younger children - especially in the Summer.

Pranish
Pranish

It's really amazing guide abt which 1 is next to that 1..Now same time n route i can visit more than 1 .its Awesome xxx

Roxanne
Roxanne

Ohhh awesome!!! This helped a lot.

Tina Wright
Tina Wright

This is absolutely fantastic. so much do and choose.