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'.
London can be a pretty expensive place to go out in, and there's the small matter of the deepening cost of living crisis to boot. But there's no need to lock yourself away, because almost all the art here is free to see. Most of London's major museums – as well as many of its smaller institutions and literally every commercial gallery – are free to enter, so you can see world-class art and artefacts without getting out your wallet. From the Tate to Gagosian, the National Gallery to Camden Art Centre, you've got your choice of literally hundreds of amazing art spaces, all free. Want to see masterpieces by Raphael and Turner, or contemporary abstraction by future art stars? You can, and you don't have to pay.
Our list of brilliant, and totally free, art galleries and museums in London covers the four corners and centre of the city, so wherever you live, there’s a gratis cultural experience near you. Go forth and enjoy, and save your pennies for something else.
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