January 23, 2017

3 of London's Top Museums

One of the big draws for visitors to London is the array of museums and art galleries, many of which offer free admission. It’s impossible to see everything these outstanding institutions have to offer so I spent a day seeking out some highlights at three of the best: the Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum.

Model of the Extinct Dodo, Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum (Website:  www.nhm.ac.uk)
We arrived at the NHM in South Kensington before its 10:00 a.m. opening and there was a very long queue. A sculpture of naturalist Charles Darwin overlooks Hintze Hall which is now closed for redevelopment. The dinosaur known as Dippy who has welcomed visitors to the museum since 1979 is departing on a UK tour next year and will be replaced by the skeleton of a blue whale. The museum’s child-friendly exhibits (especially the animatronic T. Rex in the Dinosaurs hall) make this a popular destination for families. Other highlights include an Apollo moon rock and a skeleton of the extinct Dodo bird in the Treasures Gallery.

Natural History Museum, London

Dippy the Dinosaur in Hintze Hall

Statue of Charles Darwin

T. Rex in the Dinosaurs Hall

Apollo Moon Rock in the Treasures Gallery

Dodo Skeleton in the Treasures Gallery

Escalator in the Earth Hall

Victoria and Albert Museum (Website:  www.vam.ac.uk)
Across the street from the Natural History Museum is the V&A museum of decorative arts and design. Here I saw such gems as the Rotunda Chandelier by American glass artist Dale Chihuly and Shah Jahan’s wine cup made of white nephrite jade. We stopped for a hot lunch in the world's first museum restaurant – the Gamble Room is like no other cafeteria I’ve ever seen.

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Rotunda

V&A Rotunda Chandelier, by Dale Chihuly (2001)

Shah Jahan's Wine Cup (1657)

Tipu's Tiger (1782-1799)

Italian Renaissance in The Weston Cast Court

The John Madejski Garden

Gamble Room

Gamble Room Ceiling

British Museum (Website:  www.britishmuseum.org)
This museum in the Bloomsbury neighbourhood is open until 8:30 p.m. on Fridays so we were able to extend our sightseeing day (my poor feet!). The British Museum was the first national museum to open to the public. Today it displays treasures like Egyptian mummies, the Rosetta Stone and the controversial Parthenon Sculptures.

British Museum, London

Glass Roof of the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court

Statue of Pharaoh Ramesses II

Egyptian Mummy

The Rosetta Stone

Parthenon Sculptures

In between visits to these fascinating museums we spent a little time outdoors in Kensington Gardens, which I’ll tell you about next time.

My Tip for the Day:
Museum cafeteria meals not only save time and money but are sometimes enjoyed in unique surroundings.

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