London has offered free entry to 23 museums and galleries since 2001. Most of them are open to the public during the daytime Monday to Sunday with some offering evening viewings. Here are a few examples of the most popular free museums in London with further details of where they are and what you can see there.
The British Museum (Great Russell Street, Holborn Station)
When it first opened in 1759 it was the first national museum to be open to the public free of charge anywhere in the world. The British Museum exhibits the history of ancient civilisations from all over the world including Greece, Rome, Egypt, China and Persia as well as Britain itself from prehistoric times. Its most famous historical object is the Rosetta Stone which translated Egyptian hieroglyphs into ancient Greek, enabling European scholars to rediscover the original history of Egypt.
The National Portrait Gallery
(Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross Station)
This was the first portrait gallery in the world when it opened in 1856.It showcases pictures of famous historical figures and modern celebrities from Britain in many different fields including art, literature, music, science and sport. Its most famous painting is the Chandos portrait of William Shakespeare and it also exhibits many pictures of kings, queens, princes and princesses from Britain’s Royal Family over 1000 years of history up to the present day.
The Museum of London
(London Wall, Moorgate Station)
This museum holds the largest urban history collection in the world: 6 million objects and was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1976. It has nine permanent galleries exhibiting the historical development of London during different periods including Roman Britain, medieval England, the Great Fire of London, the British Empire, the Second World War and the Olympic Games.
The Science Museum
(Great Exhibition Road, South Kensington Station)
Founded in 1857 it holds a collection of 300,000 items including the oldest surviving steam engine, the world’s first jet engine, a model of the first ever calculating machine, the earliest documents about typewriters and the blueprints for the design of DNA. Around 450,000 young people visit the Science Museum every year on educational trips, more than any other UK museum.