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Best Free London Museums

Major Museums and Galleries for No Money

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You may be surprised to hear this but most of London's major museums and art galleries offer free admission. Here's a list of the best of the big names you can visit for free all year round.

You may also like to see some of the smaller free London Museums.

1. British Museum

Group of people at British museum, elevated view
Allan Baxter/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images
The British Museum opened in 1753 and has prided itself on remaining free for all that time. The British Museum houses more than an incredible 7 million objects and it would probably take a week to see everything. The collection of Egyptian and Greek antiquities are without a doubt amongst the largest and best known in the world.

As there is so much to see at the British Museum I have compiled these British Museum Highlights (Photos) that can be seen in a couple of hours.

Also check out the Free Family Day Out in Central London that starts at the British Museum.

2. Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum, London
© visitlondonimages/britainonview
The Natural History Museum is one of the big three museums in South Kensington. It is a wonderful Victorian building housing the weird and wonderful of the natural world. The Natural History Museum is world famous for its dinosaur skeletons.

3. Science Museum

Science Museum, London
© visitlondonimages/britainonview
The Science Museum was founded in 1857 with objects shown at the Great Exhibition held in the Crystal Palace. The permanent displays are free and they have exceptional temporary exhibitions for all the family.

4. National Gallery

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London
© Laura Porter
The National Gallery takes up the entire north side of Trafalgar Square. It houses one of the finest collections of Western European paintings in the world from around 1250 onwards. Its masterpieces include artworks from Botticelli, Titian, Raphael, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Cezanne, Hogarth, and Gainsborough.

The National Gallery was established for the benefit of all, not just the privileged. It has always been committed to maintaining free admission as well as keeping a central London location with access for everyone.

5. Tate Modern

Tate Modern, London
© Laura Porter
Tate Modern is the national gallery of international modern and contemporary art from 1900 onwards. Tate Modern broke the tradition by arranging artworks by theme with each room mixing periods and chronology. Displays are changed every 1-2 years.

Tate Modern is housed in the Bankside Power Station which was design by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the man who also designed the red telephone box. It was built in the 1950s but closed down in 1981 due to high oil prices. It reopened as Tate Modern in May 2000.

6. Tate Britain

Tate Britain, London
© visitlondonimages/britainonview
Tate Britain is the national gallery of British art from 1500 to today. The rooms are arranged in chronological order, often with a theme or a focus on a particular artist. Displays are changed annually.

7. V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum)

V&A Victoria and Albert Museum London
© visitlondonimages/britainonview
The V&A in South Kensington is a great museum of art and design, and holds over 3000 years worth of artifacts from many of the world's richest cultures, including the most comprehensive collection of British design and art from 1500 to 1900. There's furniture, ceramics, photography, sculpture, and much more.

8. Museum of London

Museum of London
© Laura Porter
The Museum of London documents the history of London with seven permanent exhibition galleries telling the story of London from prehistoric times until the end of the 19th century. The Museum of London is the world's largest city museum.

9. Saatchi Gallery

The Saatchi Gallery, London
© Laura Porter
The Saatchi Gallery moved to its new home in Chelsea in 2008. The 70,000 sq.ft. gallery in the Duke of York HQ building on King's Road, Chelsea offers free admission to all shows as part of the Saatchi Gallery's aim to bring contemporary art to the widest audience possible. Plus you're allowed to photos everywhere in the building. The exhibitions will change 3 to 4 times a year so do visit regularly.

10. Horniman Museum

Horniman Museum, London: Walrus
© Horniman

The Horniman Museum in south London gives you the opportunity to explore the natural and cultural world for free. Founded by the Victorian tea trader, Frederick Horniman, in 1901, much of the original collection of is still on display.

The highlight of the Natural History Gallery is the overstuffed walrus. A London taxidermist had never seen a walrus so how was he to know they have loose, saggy skin?!

11. Museum of London Docklands

Wearing Diving Helmet, Mudlarks, Museum in Docklands, London
© MOLD

In April 2010, the Museum of London Docklands started offering free entry to everyone. This was great news as this fascinating museum explores London's history from the Roman settlement to Docklands' regeneration, and unlocks the history of London's river, port and people. The museum is housed in a 200 year old sugar warehouse and it's an interesting part of town to visit.

12. RAF Museum

RAF Museum
© RAF Museum

The Royal Air Force Museum is in northwest London and is always free to visit. It's located on an Aerodrome and is the only London attraction to house over 100 aircraft from around the world. There's a 3D cinema and interactive and fun activities making this a great day out for all of the family.

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