London’s top free museums

Museums & stately homes

The good news is that entry to London’s state museums is free so whether your main interest is in art, design, history or science, you can enjoy a host of fascinating sights in the capital.

Many of London’s most prestigious museums are in the area around Exhibition Road in South Kensington. The Victoria & Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum are all free but wherever you go in London, you’re never too far from a museum.

Victoria & Albert Museum

The V & A underwent a bit of a makeover last year, to the tune of a mere £55m. New additions to the prestigious art and design museum include a vast underground gallery, which was home to the recent ‘Opera: Passion, Power and Politics’ inaugural exhibition; and a striking new staircase – all sleek, black wood and blood red steel columns.  When you need some fresh air, the stunning courtyard with a glass-fronted café pavilion at one end provides a new urban space. This will act as a venue for installations and events.

Take in an exhibition at the V & A, London
Opera: Passion, Power and Politics
Take a break in the courtyard at the V & A
Stunning courtyard at the V & A

At the main entrance, Chihuly’s enormous glass chandelier, an explosion of blue, green and yellow, is still one of our favourite artworks in London! Visit V & A for information on getting there and current exhibitions.

Dale Chihuly's V&A Rotunda Chandelier
Magnificent Chihuly Chandelier

Natural History Museum

For families and anyone interested in the future of our planet, the Natural History Museum is a must. Gaze up in the majestic Hintze Hall to see the gigantic 25m blue whale skeleton. The Hall is the gateway to hundreds of specimens and dinosaur fossils across three floors. Highlights for 2018 include the Sensational Butterflies exhibition which leads you through a jungle habitat in the heart of London. Visit Natural History Museum for information on getting there and current exhibitions.

Free entrance to the Natural History Museum
Natural History Museum

The Science Museum

London’s Science Museum is the most visited science and technology museum in Europe. Since highlights include an immersive 350° virtual reality trip to space with astronaut Tim Peake and budding biologists can find out all about the global challenge of antibiotic resistance, this is hardly surprising.  For families, the Winton Gallery, which explores the role of mathematics in today’s world, flight simulators, and other interactive spaces help little ones discover science through play. Visit the Science Museum for information on getting there and current exhibitions.

Looking for other free museums? Try the National Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern, the Museum of London and the Imperial War Museum.

The Wallace Collection

Also free, the Wallace Collection is tucked away in a historic London town house behind Oxford Street. The 28 rooms, mainly decorated with ornate wall silks, display collections of French 18th century paintings, furniture and porcelain. Take time out for afternoon tea in the stunning courtyard restaurant. Visit the Wallace Collection for information on getting there and current exhibitions.

Explore the porcelain and art at London's Wallace Collection
Wallace Collection