There are lots of free museums and galleries in London, from the large-scale to the single room type. This list focuses on the best of the small free London museums that are certainly worth a visit.
Sir John Soane was an architect and avid collector of antiquities and art. He merged 3 houses on Lincoln's Inn Fields to be his home and museum which he left to the nation in 1837. Expect to be stunned by the building itself as well as the exhibits which include the sarcophagus of Seti I in the crypt and Hogarth paintings in the picture gallery. An absolute treasure trove and well worth a visit.
2. The Vault
The Vault is located in the basement of the Hard Rock Cafe shop in London. It has some incredible pieces of rock memorabilia and is free to visit, plus you get a tour guide to point out all of the treasures. This museum is incredibly small as it is located in an old bank vault, so is only one small room.
The Whitechapel Bell Foundry made the Big Ben bell for the Houses of Parliament and the original Liberty Bell. They have a free museum to visit on weekdays.
Can you lift a gold bar? You can try at the Bank of England Museum! It weighs 13kg and you can put your hand into a hole in a cabinet and lift the bar. There's no chance of stealing it but it may be the only time you get to touch something so densely valuable.
The Bank of England Museum tells the story of the Bank of England from its foundation in 1694 to its role today as the United Kingdom's central bank.
Entering the Grant Museum is like walking into a laboratory with all the specimen jars, glass cabinets, and skeletons. But what's really great is that you're allowed to be there! It's not very big so allow just an hour for a visit. You'll see some freaky stuff including a dugong skeleton (now extinct), an elephant bird egg (also now extinct), and a mammoth tusk which is at least 12,000 years old.
It may look like a private members club but anyone can visit the Royal Institution. It's all about the world of science and there are exhibits on 3 floors. It's free to visit and ask for a free eGuide so you can really enjoy your visit.
The highlight for me was the periodic table downstairs as, not only does it light up, but it sings! Quite frankly it's very funny and you have to try and tap the right elements as it sings about them.
Twinings have had a tea shop on The Strand in London since 1717. The Strand shop stocks a wide range of specialty teas, fruit and herbal infusions, iced teas, and coffee blends, as well as gifts, teapots, cups, mugs, biscuits, cakes, and chocolates.
There is also a small museum, which charts the history of the Twinings family, along with examples of tea caddies and more unusual items from the world of tea.
Fitzroy House, in the 1950s, was the London home and office of L. Ron Hubbard the founder of Dianetics and Scientology. The public can visit for free and see the restored building and exhibits of his life and works, but must book in advance.
9. Cigar Museum
Even for a non-smoker, the cigar museum in the basement of JJ Fox & Robert Lewis in St James's, central London, is well worth a visit. They have had many well-known customers over the years including Winston Churchill.