London Arts and Culture
Dedicated to human history and culture, his seven million strong collection is one of the best in the world. Exhibitions span the Americas, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Rome and Asia. The center of the museum is now the Great Court, a spectacular glass topped room designed by Norman Foster.
Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms
Situated on the site of the secret underground headquarters of the British war effort this is one of the six branches of the Imperial War Museum. The museum includes both the Cabinet War rooms and a museum exploring the life of Churchill.
Dulwich Picture Gallery
England’s first public art gallery it was founded in 1811 and remains an excellent collection of 17th- and 18th-century Old Masters, including Rembrandt, Rubens, Canaletto and Van Dyck. Surrounded by peaceful gardens it is the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon.
Museum of London
This exhibition center sheds light on the city’s indelible, tumultuous history and its residents from 1666 to present day. Interactive and innovative displays help visitors grasp just how resilient the English capital is (with a history that includes the plague and the devastating Great Fire of 1666). The Museum of London, which is said to be the largest archeological collection relating to a city in Europe, showcases thousands of invaluable relics such as coins, jewelry, paintings, ceramics, and garments, to name a few.
National Maritime Museum
One of the leading maritime museums in the world, this museum boasts displays and artifacts from every continent in the world. There are galleries dedicated to astronomy and time and, for children, a space to try a ship simulator.
National Portrait Gallery
Over 160,000 portraits are held here, spanning the 16th century to the present day. It was the very first portrait gallery when it opened in 1856 and continues to delight visitors with a collection that opens up the past.
Natural History Museum
Home to towering dinosaur skeletons, interactive exhibits and over 70 million plants, animals and fossils, its little wonder this is one of the cities most visited museums. Imaginative exhibitions currently include a live butterfly house and the chance to plunge into the deep of the ocean.
Royal Academy of Arts
This independent, privately-funded organization is spearheaded by prominent artists whose sole focus is to increase awareness, enjoyment, and appreciation of visual arts. Art displays change routinely every few months, but perhaps the institution’s most celebrated annual event is the Summer Exhibition – which is touted as the world’s largest open submission contemporary art exhibition of its kind. The artwork runs across all forms of media including printmaking, film, architecture, painting, and photography. The majority of pieces selected can be purchased by visitors, but most are very expensive.
Royal Opera House
The current dramatic building is actually the third incarnation, the first two destroyed by fire. Constructed in 1858, this 2,252-seat, stately opera house boasts entirely natural acoustics – and the sound is remarkable. The Royal Opera House is a flurry of activity, showcasing some 300 performances in its 11-month season. Discover the enchanting world of opera and ballet and take a backstage tour of the iconic building (tours begin at 10:30am, 12:30pm, and 2:30pm, Monday through Friday; 10:30am, 11:30am, 12:30pm, and 1:30pm on Saturday; from £10/adult). It’s also home to exhibitions and six dining and bar venues.
Sadler's Wells Theatre
As the UK’s leading dance house, the space is dedicated to bringing the world’s very best performers to London. Cutting-edge and dramatic dance is always on offer here, including collaborations with artists and musicians.
Founded in 1857, the museum holds everything from the first jet engine to a reconstruction of Crick and Watson’s model of DNA. It isn’t just kids play. As well as an IMAX 3D cinema showing science and nature films once a month, the museum hosts an event called Lates, where adults can spend an evening sipping drinks and listening to music while exploring exhibitions.
Shakespeare Globe Theatre
The Globe was built in 1599 by Shakespeare’s playing company and rebuilt in 1997 by American actor and director Sam Wanamaker. Visitors can take tours, join costume workshops, learn about special effects and, of course, watch Shakespeare’s finest plays come to life.
Built in a power station on the banks of the Thames, step inside this cavernous brick museum for contemporary art immersion. Visiting exhibitions are world class, as is the permanent collection including the don’t-miss Seagram Murals by Mark Rothko.
Victoria and Albert Museum
Commonly abbreviated to the V&A, this museum is home to the world’s greatest collection of arts and design, holding over 3,000 years worth of artifacts. Fashion lovers are particularly well catered for – they can explore exhibitions of dress, jewelry, and accessories from the 17th-century to today.
Our Experts save you money with travel deals and advice
Always, always travel with ear plugs. They make chatty plane neighbors, loud street traffic, and rowdy hotel guests much more bearable.
Christine Wei Assistant Editor
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