9 free museums and galleries in London
1. The National Gallery.
Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with extended hours Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Art lovers won’t want to skip this. Located in iconic Trafalgar Square, visitors can discover more than 2,300 works of art including Vermeer, Monet, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Michaelangelo, Raphael, Renoir and Matisse (just to name a few). www.nationalgallery.org.uk
2. Tate Britain.
Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Part of the Tate museum system, the Tate Britain is the oldest of the four galleries, and one of two located in London. Built in 1897, this museum houses British art from the 1500s to present. There are free daily tours and once a month they host Late at the Tate, a special night exhibit with an eclectic combination of sounds and visuals. www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-britain.
3. Tate Modern.
Open Sunday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The second of the Tate museums in London, the Tate Modern is just that – full of international contemporary and modern art. Visitors can enjoy fascinating and educational displays including the media’s impact on art. As added bonus, the museum offers spectacular views of the River Thames. Hop on the elevator to the top floor and enjoy the city skyline. www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern.
4. British Museum.
Open daily 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with extended hours Friday 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Offering free 30-40 minute tours of different collections throughout the day, the British Museum is full of amazing pieces of art and ancient artifacts from around the world. There are plenty of hands-on, interactive displays to help keep little ones interested. www.britishmuseum.org
5. Imperial War Museum London.
Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
History buffs won’t want to miss this. Visitors to this impressive historical museum can tour six stories of collections including vintage uniforms, photos, vehicles, films, art, weapons and artifacts from World War I through present day conflicts. Special exhibits may require a fee or ask for a donation. www.iwm.org.uk
6. National Maritime Museum Greenwich.
Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Nestled below the Royal Observatory and just across the way from the Royal Naval College, the National Maritime Museum is worth checking out. Visitors can learn about the history of sea navigation through interactive and static displays. For an extra fee, climb up to the observatory and discover the history of Greenwich Mean Time and straddle the prime meridian, with one foot in the eastern hemisphere and the other in the western. www.rmg.co.uk/national-maritime-museum
7. Royal Academy of Music Museum and Library.
Open Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Saturday noon – 4 p.m., closed Sunday, holidays and all of December.
This is a must-visit for musicians. The U.K.’s oldest music conservatory holds live demonstrations, features one-of-a-kind instruments, original sheet music and more. Staff will often host tours of the museum. Be sure to visit during the first part of the week, as the piano gallery is often closed Thursday and Friday due to classes and rehearsals. www.ram.ac.uk
8. Natural History Museum.
Open daily 10 a.m. to 5:50 p.m.
Dinosaur lovers, science explorers and wildlife adventurers won’t want to miss this amazing museum. Featuring pop-up science stations, hand-on and interactive displays, it’s easy to take a day meandering through the halls. The museum offers Nature Live talks every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. www.nhm.ac.uk
9. RAF Museum London.
Open March through October 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., November through February 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Located approximately 30 minutes outside of central London, The RAF Museum tells the fascinating, harrowing and heroic tales of the Royal Air Force. Walk through more than 100 years of RAF history, with hangars filled with aircraft, vehicles and exhibits. Flight simulators and virtual reality experiences available for an additional fee. www.rafmuseum.org.uk
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