Great Museums of London
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Great Museums of London

There is no denying that London is certainly one of the best places in the world to visit. London's museums are filled with an astonishing diversity of treasures from all over the world. Some of their collections are the result of legacies of 18th and 19th century explorers, collectors and traders. The following are seven of the city's most important museums.

Museum of London

Open in 1976 on the edge of the Barbican, the Museum of London gives a vivid account of London's life from prehistoric London, Roman London, Medieval London, to London at the outbreak of World War I.  Remodeled interiors and street scenes are alternated with displays of original domestic artifacts and items found on the museum's archeological digs.  One of the great highlights is the working model of the Great Fire of 1666, accompanied by Samuel Pepys' eyewitness account.

British Museum

(Metope from the Elgin marbles depicting a Centaur and a Lapith fighting) Image source

The oldest public museum in the world, the British Museum was founded in 1753 to house the collections of the physician Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753).   Robert Smirke designed the main part of the building (1823-1850), but the architectural highlight is the modern Great Court, with the world famous Reading Room at its center. The museum houses innumerable items stretching from the present to prehistory, which include the celebrated Elgin Marbles, the Rosetta stone, Sutton Hoo treasures, Egyptian mummies and Lindow Man.

Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum (the V&A) contains one of the world's most extensive collections of decorative arts, ranging from early Christian devotional objects, European clothes of the last 400 years, stunning jewelry from oriental Asia, to avant-garde furniture design.  Originally established in 1852 as the Museum of Manufactures to inspire students of design, it was renamed in 1899 in memory of Prince Albert by Queen Victoria.

Science Museum

( Making the Modern World Gallery of the Science Museum) Image source

Centuries of continuing scientific and technological advancement lie at the heart of the Science Museum's enormous collection.  The hardware exhibited is absolutely amazing: Newcomen's steam engine (1712), early aero engines, Apollo 10 spacecraft (1969), and Babbage's Difference Engine (1832), the first automatic calculator.  Do not fail to go to the high-tech Wellcome Wing, which has many interactive displays, an IMAX 3D Cinema and a motion simulator, Virtual Voyages.

Imperial War Museum

Massive tanks, artillery, bombs and aircraft are on exhibit in the Imperial War Museum; however, the most fascinating display of the museum relate more to the impact on the lives of people, the story of those who survived, fought and died in conflicts.  There are displays of food rationing, air raid precautions, and wartime films and photographs.  The acclaimed Holocaust exhibition is a major permanent display, utilizing historical material and original artifacts to deliver its message.

Natural History Museum

Image source

Opened in 1881, the Natural History Museum is where all of life on Earth and the Earth itself are vividly explained through a combination of the latest interactive techniques and traditional displays.  Designed by Alfred Waterhouse, the massive, cathedral-like museum building is a masterpiece in itself.  It’s most popular exhibit included skeletons and full-sized models of animals, birds and dinosaurs.  Other magnificent exhibits include the Spirit Collection and Visions of Earth

London Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum contains the history of London's transportation, which is essentially a social and cultural history of the capital.  The intriguing collection of buses, trains, and other public transportation from the past to the present is housed in the picturesque Victorian Flower Market, which was built in 1872.  The museum is especially fun for children. There are plenty of hands-on exhibits, and these include the opportunity for children to put themselves in the driver's seat of a London bus, or a train from the underground system.

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Comments (2)

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