The National Gallery is a magnificent Georgian edifice on the northern side of Trafalgar Square that houses a massive collection of Western European art. Started in 1838, you can find the works of master Leonardo Da Vinci in the Sainsbury wing of the gallery, alongside Botticelli and Bellini. The west wing contains works by Titian, Michelangelo and Raphael, the north wing contains works by Rubens, Rembrandt and Caravaggio, and the east wing contains works by Seurat, Canaletto, Degas and Monet. A portable audio guide is available in six different languages.
The British Museum is one of London's top tourist attractions, as well as a major scholarly resource. Its collection was bequeathed to the nation in 1753, and the museum's distinctive Greek Revival structure was constructed during the 19th Century. The collection expanded massively during the heyday of the British Empire, leading to the museum's reputation for acquiring from sources all over the globe, leaving it with over 8 million objects. The displays cover about 5.5 hectares (14 acres) making it impossible to see everything in one visit. The famous Rosetta Stone, Assyrian Reliefs, Parthenon Marbles and the vast Egyptian collection are a few of the British Museum's most well-known exhibits.
Explore the natural history of the planet Earth, from the prehistoric era to the present day, at one of London's most visited museums. In 1881, the Natural History Museum moved to its present venue. Designed by Alfred Water house, this building is now one of London's most beautiful and recognized museums. The halls house more than 300 years worth of collections, with over 80 million specimens. Broadly divided into Life and Earth galleries, the museum provides much more than can be seen in a day, and your feet will get tired before your brain does. Let your kids run wild among dinosaur skeletons, erupting volcanoes and life-size constructs of blue whales - it's unlikely they'll ever forget their first visit here.
The Victoria and Albert Museum celebrates the rich culture of a bygone era. It includes around 2.27 million objects including ceramics, fashion, furniture, glass, metalwork, paintings, photographs, prints, sculpture and textiles. Collections from as far as East Asia, South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Egypt are housed in the V&A Museum. One can explore the world's most comprehensive holding of post-classical European sculpture. The museum frequently holds exhibitions of its collections. And what's more, you could even shop for books, stationery, gifts and jewelry at the museum. After working up an appetite, head to the V&A Cafe for a bite.
900 years of history is enshrined within the thick, turreted walls of the Tower of London. Originally built as a stronghold by William the Conqueror in 1066, the Tower of London was expanded over the years by various monarchs. Its most distinctive feature is also its oldest, the White Tower which dates back to 1078 by William the Conqueror as a symbol of the Norman supremacy. Although variously used as a royal residence, armory and mint, the Tower of London is best known for its stint as a prison and the site of numerous executions, most notably of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh and Prince Edward V are a few of the other famous personalities who were imprisoned here. Stories of treason, conspiracy and espionage are rife amid these historic walls, with countless secrets just waiting to be uncovered. Another curious feature is the ravens here, that are said to safeguard the British Crown. Today, the Tower of London is a museum and the home of the fabulous Crown Jewels. Tours of the castle are led by the Yeomen Warders, also famously dubbed as the Beefeaters.
The UK's National Gallery for Modern and Contemporary Art, Tate Modern has been a dazzling microcosm of the art world since it first opened its doors in 2000 and is one of the largest of its kind in the world. A remarkable merger between the past and present, Tate Modern displays the stunning national collection of modern and contemporary art, featuring both British and international artists from 1900s to the present. Here, artwork by the likes of Matice, Warhol, Picasso, Dalí, and Pollock, sit alongside those of contemporary artists who are redefining the very meaning of art. The gallery sits amid the concrete jungle of Bankside, fitted into the former Power Station with a few nifty additions. The most obvious is the two-storey glass extension that sits atop the roof, while the original lattice brickwork and towering chimney of the heritage building have been retained. Later extensions include the Blavatnik Building, with its striking sloped facade, and the conversion of the subterranean oil tanks into a permanent showcase for the performing arts. Admission is free, however, tickets must be purchased for special exhibitions.
Canada House is located in London and currently serves as a historic house museum and the office of the High Commission of Canada to the United Kingdom. The construction began during 1827 and the house was officially inaugurated in 1925. You can see prominent Greek Revival architecture in its construction and the authentic Canadian furniture and maple flooring adds on to the aura. This architectural marvel is made of Portland stone and also houses various exhibitions related to historical and contemporary art. The house has its name in various national registers and was designed by the architect who designed the famous British Museum.
British Optical Association Museum is one of the oldest museums of its genre in the world. Inaugurated in 1901, the museum has almost 16,000 collectibles on display which describes the history of Ophthalmology. They have a huge collection of visual aids, spectacles, rare catalogs and other equipment's used in the field of optics. The museum is managed by the British Optical Association.
Dedicated to visual arts, the Mall Galleries in London aims to provide a platform to local and emerging artists as well as showcase works of renowned artists. The venue consists of three galleries, a bookshop and a cafe and is also the center of the Federation of British Artists, a national charity. The leading art societies that form the FBA host their annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries.
Built in the early 1700s and retaining most of its original characteristics, this beautifully restored Georgian building is the only surviving residence of Benjamin Franklin. Serving as his home during the 16 years he spent in London as a mediator, it is essentially the first U.S. embassy. Designed to be a historical experience, the Benjamin Franklin house is now a museum and educational institution. State of the art lighting and projection technology recreate the fascinating life and discoveries of this politician, inventor, scientist, and philosopher, while the Student Science Centre offers a hands on look at Franklin's London based discoveries. Opened on Ben's 300th birthday in 2006 and just steps from Trafalgar Square, this is a wonderful variation from traditional museums and well worth the stop.
The National Portrait Gallery houses portraits of eminent personalities in British history from the Tudors to the present day, making it a must for lovers of art. Founded in 1856, the collection on display is among the most comprehensive in the world and no restrictions are placed on the mediums used. There are traditional oil paintings and watercolors, as well as drawings, miniatures, sculptures, silhouettes, caricatures and photographs. Admission is free, but certain exhibitions may be charged.