You can get to know the UK capital in a variety of ways. Whether it be through the immersive tours on the Thames or simply looking out at the view from your room at the Park Grand Hyde Park London, everyone has their own way of soaking in London’s vast and rich culture.
One unique way to get to know the city is the extensive range of educational institutions. From the government-funded to the independent gems, London has amassed a broad variety of museums and galleries that never fail to impress even the most avid of exhibit tourist. Regardless of whether you’re here for a day or for a weekend, the scope of horizon-broadening galleries and museums gives you first-hand experience on a vast menu of topics.
From natural science to the history of Jimi Hendrix, the museums and galleries of London cover so many topics, it’s hard to choose just one to visit during your stay. One aspect that almost all of them have in common is that they’re fully focused on accessibility and entertainment as much as they aim to enlighten. This is partly why London welcomes tens of millions of tourists a year, and why it’s garnered a worldwide reputation as a diverse, unmissable tourist attraction.
So, if you’re going to pick just one museum or gallery to visit during your stay in London, which should it be? We’ve compiled an extensive list of the well known and the off the grid museums, giving you a taste of what to expect. At the end of the day, it’s your trip, and cultivating an itinerary that caters to your interests is just as important as getting to know the city of London.
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is one of the most historically significant in London. With it’s focused on geological and zoological specimens, the Natural History Museum’s exhibits were first collated from the findings of Charles Darwin on his travels around the world and it was first established in 1883. Nowadays, the museum explores exhibits on ancient history, human biology, prehistoric animals and much much more.
The second of the South Kensington “Museum Row” exhibits, the Science Museum is a broadly focused science museum and easy to visit for guests staying at one of the nearby Shaftesbury Hotels. With its interactive exhibits, the Science Museum is an accessible and engaging way to learn about the wide world of science, giving guests of all ages a chance to learn more about its innovations and experiments.
Another South Kensington based Museum, the historic Victoria and Albert Museum is in close proximity to our hotels in Paddington and Hyde Park. Established in memory of Queen Victoria’s beloved husband this beautifully designed museum has a focus on just that – beautiful design. With a broad range of international decorative arts, alongside diverse temporary exhibitions, the Victoria and Albert Museum keeps very up to date despite its 167 years of life.
Museum of London
For guests at the Shaftesbury Hyde Park International looking to learn a little more about the social and geological history of London, the Museum of London is just a few minutes from St Pauls Cathedral. Exploring the history of the city, from its prehistoric origins to its modern-day diaspora, the Museum of London shows a culture’s and a country’s growth through time.
Like the Museum Row establishments, the British Museum is free to visit and has a long history which predates even the V & A. First established from Sir Hans Sloane’s collections of artefacts, the British Museum has collected a wealth of relics from ancient cultures around the world. From the ancient samurai tradition to the Egyptian Pharoahs, the British Museum dates back to 1753 and is one of the most important museums, not only in London but the world.
The Horniman Museum is a Forest Hill based oddity which has collated the eclectic collection of Frederick Horniman, a history enthusiast and collector, and heir to a Victorian tea fortune. Housed in a quirky arts and craft designed house, the collection includes animal taxidermy, ancient musical instruments and beautiful botanic gardens.
With its beautiful collections of French 18th-century paintings, decorative art and jewellery, the Wallace Collection is comprised of works collected by the Seymour family and eventually bequeathed to the general public in 1897. The collection is housed in Hertford House in Manchester Square, part of the historic Marylebone district.
Based just along from the Southbank near Blackfriars, the Tate Modern is located in the repurposed Bankside Power Station and promises a broad range of international contemporary art exhibitions. With many works by the likes of Picasso and Georges Braque, the Tate Modern promises a beautiful range of works dating back to around 1900.
With its focus on British artists, Tate Britain is another free-to-visit museum that explores art from the country and dates back to the year 1500. With work from the likes of Francis Bacon, Hockney and J.W Turner, Tate Britain is one of the best museums for those interested in exploring the history of British artists.
National Portrait Gallery
Based on Trafalgar Square this centrally located museum is easy to reach and accessible for all visitors. In part, this is because of the eclectic range of art styles on display, and in part due to the very famous faces that have been the subject of the portraits. From Judi Dench to Henry VIII, the works on display are from some of the best artists in the world.
Another Trafalgar Square-based gallery, the National Gallery houses the national collection of art. With work dating back to 1300, the gallery has over 2000 artworks from internationally renowned painters.
The Serpentine Gallery is a contemporary art gallery located in the heart of Hyde Park. With a focus on the modern and experimental, the gallery houses temporary, yet free to visit exhibitions from artists such as Grayson Perry and Marina Abramovich, its two exhibition spaces being one of the top tourist spots in the royal park.
With so many to choose from, which will you make a point to visit during your stay with us in London? Leave us a comment!