I know for a lot of people, the idea of going to museums is pretty much the worst thing ever. All that I can come up with to account for that is the possible disappointment from school day field trips when, for whatever reason, kids seemed to expect a trip to the ice cream shop and were excessively let down when told that no, in fact, the class would be going to the art, transport, history, science, you-name-it museum. And I was probably a weird kid (I was definitely a weird kid) because I love school trips to the museum and I still love them today.
One of my favorite museums in London (and there are so many) is the British Museum. It’s free to all visitors and features a collection sourced world-wide of history and art. They have an absolutely stunning Egyptian collection (which is always buzzing), a beautiful gallery of Greco-Roman sculpture, and a really beautiful section of Middle Eastern metalwork (most of which was for scientific and seafaring instruments, as it turns out!).
The main hall features a conservatory-style glass ceiling which domes overhead and swoops down into the center gallery which normally houses special paid exhibits or short documentaries. There is also an Enlightenment Gallery which houses objects throughout the era that were key in building the philosophy. It is held in King George III’s former King’s Library featuring plasterwork, mahogany woodwork and gilding. The museum offers free tours of the gallery on Fridays. As a note, almost every gallery has a tour which runs daily, through lunch, or on Fridays- all but the Around the World in 90 minutes tour are free.
The museum is also home to the Rosetta Stone, the Lewis Chessmen, and the Parthenon Frieze. Good luck getting photos of these as they are absolutely mobbed by visitors! Still, it’s worth braving the crowds to see such iconic works. The Rosetta Stone was a little too much for me – imagine being swept along by a sea of people – but I did luck out for a few seconds of peace with the Lewis Chessmen which were carved in the 12th century from walrus tusk and are frequently shared with museums in Scotland (as they originated on the Scottish Isle of Lewis).
Additionally, the museum is almost perfectly located. A few blocks from leafy Russell Square and it’s same-named tube stop, it’s also only a few blocks away from the theatre district, bustling Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square (with it’s own set of museums) and St. Paul’s Cathedral, making it an ideal starting point for a full day of culture.
Can’t make it to the museum? Many galleries are also accessible through GoogleMaps!