Museums

London has an abundance of museums that are equally famous for their quality and for their variety. You can take your pick of museums devoted to design, gardens, children, science, toys and even London itself.

Some of the museums have miles of exhibits housed in some of the most magnificent buildings and halls while others are housed in former dwelling houses. 

The British Museum, founded in 1753, contains world famous collections of antiquities from Egypt, Western Asia, Greece and Rome as well as Prehistoric and Romano-British artefacts.

South of the River Thames, to the east of Lambeth Palace, the Imperial War Museum uniquely covers the history of world conflict from World War I to the present day.

People interested in the history of warfare may like to visit HMS Belfast, moored permanently as a museum on the River Thames in the Pool of London and a unique and powerful reminder of Britain's naval heritage.

In west London, in Kensington, the collection of museums that stand on or near Exhibition Road owe their existence to the energy and enthusiasm of Prince Albert. It was his tireless persistence that resulted in the Great Exhibition being opened in Hyde Park in 1851. Its unqualified success persuaded Albert that the profits made from it should be used to purchase land on which would be built an array of educational establishments.

The Victoria and Albert Museum is the largest museum of the decorative arts in the world. The beautiful Victorian and Edwardian buildings house 145 galleries containing some of the world's greatest collections of sculpture, furniture, fashion and textiles, paintings, silver, glass, ceramics, jewellery, books, prints and photographs.

Also situated in Kensington, the Natural History Museum is dedicated to furthering the understanding of the natural world through its unrivalled collections, its world class exhibitions and through its internationally significant programme of scientific research.

The collections in the Science Museum cover the application of science to technology and the development of engineering and industry from their early beginnings to the present day.

Along with its 'mainstream' museums, London has some delightfully unusual exhibitions. The Bramah Tea and Coffee Museum allows the visitor to explore the history and traditions of these two important beverages amongst the tea warehouses of Butlers Wharf.

To the north of the City, the London Canal Museum tells the story of the canals, the people who lived and worked on them, the cargos they carried and the horses which towed the boats.

Out to the west, the Kew Bridge Steam Museum houses a collection of steam pumping engines including the largest running and largest existing single cylinder engines in the world.

Deep in the heart of London, buried beneath London Bridge Station, the London Dungeon, billed as a museum with a difference, is a unique museum of 40 spine chilling exhibits and is now one of the capital's top tourist attractions. Within the Dungeon you can step back in time and journey through the darker side of European history. The museum features a wide variety of attractions including modern multimedia displays, actors and special effects.

For those with a less morbid taste, the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden is brilliant for children of all ages, noted for its old red buses and historic tube trains.