If you’re a museum person, you probably shouldn’t take museum advice from me. I had a huge list of museums that I was planning to visit when I went to London, but once I got there I found that I didn’t really want to go to most of them and wondered why I’d waste my time on something I didn’t really care for anyways. London has some first-class museums, but I skipped pretty much all of them. I figured ‘why bother wasting an afternoon at the Tate pretending to care about modern art when I could be shopping Oxford Street or stuffing my face with the most delicious food?’
That said, I did still visit a bunch of museums, I just skipped a lot of the classics (the Tate Modern, London Museum, National Gallery, V&A Museum). The only one I visited was the British Museum and I was way more enthralled with the modern architecture of the building rather then the thousand year old relics that were housed inside. Actually, while I never formally visited the National Gallery, I did go there for an art exhibit on Da Vinci. This was an incredible exhibit and had about 10 of Da Vinci’s paintings from other museums in Europe. It was a once-in-a-life time exhibit though, so you should keep your eyes open for these! (Tube Stops: Charring Cross or Embankment)
However, I did take the time to visit the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Imperial War Museum, and I absolutely loved them all! The Natural History Museum has dinosaurs. That’s really all you need to know. It has a million other crazy, interesting things in there, but people definitely come for the dinosaurs. If you’re visiting, try and avoid the weekend and for goodness sake, make sure you get there for opening time! The dinosaur exhibit is super popular and if you don’t get there early there will be a huge queue to get in. The Science Museum is right next door to the Natural History Museum, but I wouldn’t try and hit them both in one day. They’re both huge and have several days worth of interesting stuff in them. The Science Museum has an Imax and tons of interactive exhibits which will keep you busy for hours. (Tube Stop: South Kensington)
The Imperial War Museum is more serious, but no less impressive than the Science and Natural History Museums. The foyer of the Museum is filled with tanks, submarines, and machinery from the World Wars and there’s several planes hanging from the ceiling. The entire basement floor is an exhibit dedicated to War in the 1900’s. They start with World War I, the tensions that built between the two wars, World War II, and then move into the Cold War. They have so many different artifacts, propaganda, and so much video footage. There’s also two interactive exhibits. You can walk through a trench, which is designed exactly as the trenches would have been in the first world war, and there’s an exhibit called the “Blitz Experience”. I didn’t get to do it because there was a huge line, but it’s basically a simulation of what it would have been like in an underground station during the Blitz in London. (Tube Stops: Lambeth North or Elephant & Castle)
The exhibits upstairs change from time to time, but there is a two-floor permanent exhibit on the holocaust. This exhibit is incredibly well done and very thorough, but a little bit hard to take at times. It’s a very long exhibit and they cover the Holocaust so well that it makes you feel a bit sick after a while. I feel like this is the way you should feel when you leave the exhibit though and it’s definitely one that sticks with you.
Other then that, there’s a million and one other museums you can check out in London. I did the Tower Bridge Museum, which is actually located in the top of Tower Bridge, and I walked up all the stairs to the top of the Monument for the Great Fire of 1666. You really can’t go wrong though because the best part about the museums in London is that they’re all free! That’s right, you can see dinosaurs, submarines, thousand-year-old artefacts, and priceless works of art for free! It’s just impossible not to love London. (Tube Stops: Tower Hill and Monument)