Running from King’s Cross down to the River Thames, London’s ‘Museum Mile’ encompasses 13 extraordinary and equally diverse museums and galleries. From Charles Dickens to Routemaster buses to Monet to mummies to the Magna Carta come explore a unique and geographically close collection of some of London’s smaller museums.
1. The British Library 96 Euston Road
Come see the Magna Carta and the Gutenberg Bible alongside sketches by Leonardo da Vinci, handwritten Mozart scores, and many sacred and ancient texts and maps from around the world. There’s also contemporary manuscripts as well, such as a collection of lyrics and correspondence from John Lennon of The Beatles.
Entrance details: Free admission. Open Monday and Fridays 930-6pm, Tuesday- Thursday 930-8pm, Saturdays 930-5pm, and Sundays 11-5pm.
2. The British Museum Great Russell Street
Discover the British Museum’s impressive collection spanning over 2 million years of human history and culture including the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures, and Egyptian mummies.
Entrance details: Free admission. Open daily 10-530pm, Fridays until 830pm.
3. The Brunei Gallery Thornhaugh Street
Visiting contemporary and historical exhibitions and events showcase the art, culture, history, and contemporary contexts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, plus a Japanese roof garden!
Entrance details: Free admission. Open Tuesday- Saturday 1030-5pm. Open late on Thursdays till 8pm.
4. The Cartoon Museum 35 Little Russeell Street
Check out the museum’ interesting collection of original British cartoon and comic art from the 18th century to the present, even Dennis the Menace and Andy Capp!
Entrance details: £7 admission fee. Open Monday- Saturday 1030-530pm and Sundays 12-530pm.
5. Charles Dickens Museum 48 Doughty Street
Explore Dickens’ house just as it was when he occupied the Georgian townhouse in the late 1830s. Wander through the dozen rooms and see original manuscripts, furniture, paintings, and other personal items relating to the popular novelist. The museum also hosts several evening events a year in which the museum is lit entirely by candlelight complete with a gin bar and book binding workshop. This is definitely on my calendar!
Entrance details: £8 admission charge. Open Monday-Sunday 10-5pm.
6. The Courtauld Gallery Somerset House, Strand
One of my favorite small art museums! Admire an impressive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings along with works ranging from the Renaissance to the 20th century by world-famous artists such as Rubens, Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Monet.
Entrance details: £7 admission fee. Open daily 10-6pm
7. The Foundling Museum 40 Brunswick Square
This museum tells the story of the Foundling Hospital, Britain’s first home for abandoned children.
Entrance details: £8.25 admission fee. Open Tuesday- Saturday 10-5pm and Sundays 11-5pm.
8. Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons 35-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
Discover 400 years of medical history including one of the oldest anatomical collections of human and animal specimens and interestingly enough, Winston Churchill’s false teeth!
Entrance details: Free admission. Open Tuesday- Saturday 10-5pm.
9. The Library and Museum of Freemasonry 60 Great Queen Street
Explore one of the world’s best collections of Masonic material at the home of English freemasonry. The ceremonial areas of the Freemasons’ Hall are also available to view.
Entrance details: Free admission. Open Monday- Friday 10-5pm.
10. London Transport Museum The Piazza, Covent Garden
Discover the story of London’s transport system with neat interactive exhibits and a train simulator! See historic vehicles such as the iconic Routemaster bus and the world’s first underground steam train. A popular museum with the kids so avoid school breaks, weekends, and holidays if you wish to steer clear of crowds of boisterous school children.
Entrance details: £16 admission ticket allows unlimited admission to the museum for 12 months from date of purchase. Open daily 10-6pm except for Fridays when the museum doesn’t open till 11am.
11. Sir John Soane’s Museum 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
Sir John Soane’s Museum is the former home of the neo-classical architect Sir John Soane. It holds many drawings and models of Soane’s projects and the collections of paintings, drawings and antiquities that he assembled. A popular monthly event is the museum’s late night where the museum is lit entirely by candlelight on the first Tuesday of each month, from 6 until 9pm. Be forewarned that entrance is limited to the first 200 people in line! We got there at 430pm to stake a spot in the queue and by 5pm there was close to a 100 people behind us. Tip: Wait until the late autumn/winter months to do this so that ambient sunlight from outside doesn’t hinder the candlelight experience!
Entrance details: Free admission but a £3 donation is requested. Open Tuesday- Saturday 10-5pm. First Tuesday of every month open late 6-9pm.
12. UCL Museums: Art, Grant, and Petrie Museums UCL, Gower Street
The University College London museums house some pretty unique art and artifacts such as original Turner prints (Art Museum), fossilized footprints (Rock Room), and a dress older than the pyramids (Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archeology)!
Entrance details: Free admission. Each individual museum maintains their own opening hours, check website below for specifics.
13. Wellcome Collection 183 Euston Road
Explore what it means to be human. Wander through the unusual mixture of medical artifacts and original artworks on display and explore the connections between medicine, life and art.
Entrance details: Free admission. Open Tuesday- Sunday 10-6pm, open late till 10pm on Thursdays. Also open until 10pm on the first Friday of every month (except August and January).