Day at the Museum(s) (British and London)

July 29, 2009 in Travel by pacejmiller

Here’s a short post I wanted to put up ages ago but didn’t have the time – my visits to the British Museum and the Museum of London while I was still in the UK.

British Museum Outside

The totally free British Museum

According to TripAdvisor’s Best and Worst of Europe, there’s not much good about London, except it has the most free attractions.  That I can agree with.  And two of the best free attractions are the British Museum and the Museum of London.

British Museum

If you do a quick stroll-through you can probably do it in 3 or 4 hours, but you probably need a full day to properly appreciate the British Museum, one of the best museums in the world.  I went there twice, but could have easily gone a couple more.  It’s not as classy or stylish as say the Louvre in Paris, but it’s absolutely free (except for the occasional temporary exhibit).  And it is stacked with priceless artifacts from just about every culture you can think of.  Egyptian, Roman, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, just to name a few.

But this is the British Museum, I hear you say – well, the one thing the Brits were incredibly efficient at back in the day when they were the world’s pre-eminent power was to take stuff from other countries and cultures.  ‘Take’ is probably a very kind way of saying it.  Consequently, the British Museum holds some artifacts from countries that don’t have anything nearly as valuable themselves.  For instance, the interior of the Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens – there’s a whole room filled with fragments of its walls.

The thing that amazed me the most was the size of the things the Brits took back to England.  Gigantic monuments.  Whole sides of buildings and temples, broken down into fragments and reassembled.  It really is a fabulous collection of the world’s treasures.

British Museum Inside

You can take all the photos you want inside!

The place is huge and it’s free.  Some of the rooms could use a little refurbishment and air-conditioning in the summer, but I’m nitpicking.  My number one must-visit in London.


Museum of London

The hugely underrated Museum of London actually has two museums, with one located at London Wall and the other (newer) one at Docklands.  I only went to the former, which is free, but the latter charges an admission price.

Currently it is a small place, one you can explore in a couple of hours, but it is incredibly rich in history has plenty of fascinating and interactive exhibitions.  I say currently because it is under renovation and will not be complete until Spring 2010.  However, it is still worth a visit right now if you are around in London.  The current exhibitions detail the history of London from pre-historic times to present day, and covers highly interesting events such as the Great Fire of 1666 and the Black Death.  I was surprised to learn so much in so little time.

Highly recommended.