Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

London’s Museums

London Museums

 Museums in London

London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of the island of Great Britain, London has been a significant settlement for two millennia. Founded by the Romans, who named it Londinium, London became the capital of the British Empire. As a result, London today has some of the most significant Museums, Heritage Sites and Cultural Institutions in the world. Featured in “Joy of Museums” are the following Museums and Heritage Sites.

London’s Museums and Heritage Sites

London Museums Overview

London is home to many museums, galleries, and other institutions, many of which are free to visit. The first to be established as the British Museum in Bloomsbury, in 1753. Initially containing antiquities, natural history specimens, and the national library, the museum now has a collection of seven million artefacts from around the world. In 1824, the National Gallery was founded to house the British national collection of Western paintings and now occupies a prominent position in Trafalgar Square. Close by is the National Portrait Gallery which was founded in 1856 to house portraits in art and sculpture from British history. Today its collection is one of the world’s most extensive collection of portraits.

In the latter half of the 19th century, a large part of South Kensington was developed as a cultural and scientific quarter. Three major national museums are there: the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum. The national gallery of British art is at Tate Britain and The Tate Gallery, which became the primary centre for modern art moved to Tate Modern, a new gallery housed in the former Bankside Power Station.

London also contains four World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London; Kew Gardens; the site comprising the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, and St Margaret’s Church; and the historic settlement in Greenwich where the Royal Observatory, Greenwich defines the Prime Meridian, 0° longitude, and Greenwich Mean Time. Other London landmarks that are world famous include Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and Trafalgar Square.

  • The British Museum
    • The British Museum is one of the oldest public museums in the world. It was established in 1753, the English Parliament founded it and set the model for all other public museums that followed. Before the introduction of the British Museum as an open museum, museums were private collections of kings, wealthy people, the church or universities. The British Museum Act of Parliament in 1753 states that it was founded so that it may “be preserved and maintained, not only for the inspection and entertainment of the learned and the curious but the general use and benefit of the public.”
  • The National Gallery, London
    • The National Gallery, London is an art museum founded in 1824. Its collection includes over 2,300 paintings dating from the 13th century to the 20th century. It is one of the most visited art museums in the world, and its main building facade facing Trafalgar Square has not changed for two-hundred years.
  • Tate Britain
    • Tate Britain is part of the Tate network of galleries in England, with Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives. It is the oldest gallery in the network, having opened in 1897. Tate Britain houses a significant and extensive collection of the art of British art from 1500 to the present day and has extensive holdings of the works of J. M. W. Turner, who bequeathed all his collection to the nation.
  • The Wallace Collection
    • The Wallace Collection is an art collection housed at Hertford House in Manchester Square, the former townhouse of the Seymour family, Marquesses of Hertford. Its collection comprises a remarkable range of fine and decorative arts from the 15th to the 19th centuries with a significant collection of French 18th-century paintings, furniture, porcelain and Old Master paintings.
  • The Victoria and Albert Museum
    • The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is one of the world’s largest museums of decorative arts and design. Founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the V&A is located near the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Royal Albert Hall in London,
  • Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace
    • The Queen’s Gallery is an art gallery at Buckingham Palace, home of the British monarch, in London. It exhibits works of art from the Royal Collection on a rotating basis with about 450 palaeontology are on display at any one time. When not on show at the Queen’s Gallery, the masterpieces of the Royal Collection maybe spread among many historical royal residences in the United Kingdom.
  • Courtauld Gallery
    • The Courtauld Gallery is an art museum that houses the art collection of the Courtauld Institute of Art, a college of the University of London specialising in the study of the history of art. The Courtauld collection includes paintings, drawings, sculptures and other works from medieval to modern times; it is mainly known for its French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings.
  • Tate Modern, London
    • Tate Modern is Britain’s national gallery holds the national collection of British art from 1900 to the present day and international modern and contemporary art. Tate Modern is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the world.
  • Science Museum, London
    • The Science Museum is a major museum in London, which was founded in 1857 and today is one of the city’s major tourist attractions. The Science Museum now holds a collection of over 300,000 items; it also contains hundreds of interactive exhibits.
  • National Portrait Gallery, London
    • The National Portrait Gallery houses a collection of portraits of historical importance and more recent famous British people. It was the first portrait gallery in the world, established in 1856. Since then it has expanded include regional centres at Beningbrough Hall in Yorkshire and Montacute House in Somerset.
  • Natural History Museum, London
    • Natural History Museum, London exhibits a vast range of life and earth science specimens comprising some 80 million items within five main collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology, and zoology. Many of the collections have great historical as well as scientific value, such as specimens collected by Charles Darwin. The museum is particularly famous for its exhibition of dinosaur skeletons and ornate architecture.
  • Charles Dickens Museum
    • The Charles Dickens Museum is the author’s house turned to into a museum about Charles Dickens. The museum is housed in a Georgian terraced house which was Charles Dickens’s home from 1837 to 1839. Charles Dickens and his wife Catherine Dickens lived here and the older two of Dickens’s daughters, Mary Dickens and Kate were born in this house.
  • Hampton Court Palace
    • Hampton Court Palace is a royal palace 11.7 miles (18.8 kilometres) south-west and upstream of central London on the River Thames. The palace building project began  Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in 1515, however, in 1529, as Wolsey fell from favour, the King seized the palace for himself and enlarged it to cater for his royal court.
  • Sherlock Holmes Museum
    • The Sherlock Holmes Museum is dedicated to the famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Situated in Baker Street, bearing the number 221B by permission of the City of Westminster, although it lies between numbers 237 and 241. The Georgian townhouse which the museum occupies was formerly used as a boarding house from 1881 to 1904 when the stories that describe Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson residing at that approximate location as tenants of Mrs Hudson.

London’s Top Museum Destinations

London is one of the leading tourist destinations in the world and is one of the most visited city in the world with over 65 million visits. The top most-visited attractions in London are:

  • The British Museum
  • The National Gallery
  • The Natural History Museum
  • The Southbank Centre
  • Tate Modern
  • The Victoria and Albert Museum
  • The Science Museum
  • Somerset House
  • The Tower of London
  • The National Portrait Gallery


  • Which are your favourite London Museums?
  • Which are your favourite London Heritage Sites?
  • Which are your favourite London landmarks?

London’s Museums

  • City:                         London Museums
  • Sovereign State:      United Kingdom Museums
  • Country:                  England
  • Settled:                   By Romans c.43 AD (as Londinium)
  • Population:             14 Million metro area


Explore British Proverbs and Quotes

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“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”
– William Shakespeare


Photo Credit: By Diliff (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons