Best FREE Museums and Galleries in London

Your Guide to the Best FREE Museums and Galleries in London

Last Updated: February 28, 2024By

Looking for a way to enjoy London on a budget? Well this guide to the best free museums and galleries in London is a great place to start! We’ve listed the top places of interest dotted around city that you can enter and enjoy without having to pass the cash. Each exhibit offers a unique experience and a fun day out for all ages. 

 

A journey to London doesn’t have to strain your bank account. While the city might be known for its expensive cost of living and luxurious hangouts, fear not! There are many museums and galleries to explore with absolutely no entrance fee. From the famous Tate Britain to the iconic National Gallery, there’s a real mixture to choose from, offering a chance to indulge in world-class art without parting with a single penny. Our list of remarkable and cost-free galleries spans across every corner of the city. So, dive in, surround yourself with culture, and save your money for a coffee and cake at one of London’s cool cafes instead!

Best FREE Museums and Galleries in London

Free Museums and Galleries to Visit this Year

British Museum

Step into the British Museum’s realm of wonder, offering an unparalleled experience to all seekers of knowledge. This iconic institution houses a staggering collection of over 8 million artefacts, a portal into the historical narratives of civilisations worldwide. From the enigmatic Rosetta Stone to the majestic Parthenon sculptures, the exhibits narrate the remarkable achievements of humanity across the ages. And with free access, there’s every reason to include a visit to the British Museum in your plans. Embark on this enlightening journey today; you won’t be disappointed.

Best FREE Museums and Galleries in London

National Gallery

Nestled in London’s heart, the National Gallery stands alongside the National Portrait Gallery, collectively showcasing an array of must-see works. From the brushstrokes of Van Gogh to captivating entries from photography competitions, the National Gallery’s collection is a testament to artistic excellence. It features masterpieces spanning Italian Renaissance, French Impressionism, and Dutch Old Masters. This is an experience to add to your bucket list – an essential stop for anyone exploring the vibrant city of London.

Science Museum

Are you hooked on the wonders of science? The Science Museum beckons, inviting you to grow your understanding of the world. Throughout the year, this dynamic landmark hosts an array of enriching events, from grand spectacles to family-friendly activities, all set amidst captivating exhibitions and interactive galleries. Enjoy the wonders of an IMAX cinema, treating you to the latest shows and presentations. Daredevils can engage with an assortment of simulators, from a 3D Red Arrows experience to the sensation of piloting an RAF Typhoon jet. With an annual footfall of 3.3 million visitors and complimentary admission, the Science Museum stands among London’s premier attractions.

Wallace Collection

Imagine an assembly of 18th-century French furniture, paintings, and art – a treasure trove that once belonged to the Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace. Within Hertford House, a realm of opulent furnishings and exquisite porcelain awaits your exploration. The Wallace Collection boasts masterpieces by renowned artists, including the captivating “Laughing Cavalier” by Franz Hals (fun fact: he’s neither laughing nor a Cavalier!). Families are welcome too, with an interactive area for kids to dabble in armour and play. Engaging exhibitions and artist-led workshops further enrich the experience.

Royal Air Force Museum

The Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum houses an impressive array of over 80 aircraft, ranging from pivotal RAF planes to world classics representing the USA, Japan, and France. Interactive exhibits cater to all age groups, offering insights and activities. Test your mettle with a pilot aptitude assessment, discovering if you have what it takes to soar alongside the likes of Maverick and Goose! Don’t miss “Our Finest Hour,” a multimedia chronicle of the Battle of Britain.

Best FREE Museums and Galleries in London

British Library

If you love books then this is a must-visit! Not only is it the world’s largest library, the British Library boasts a staggering collection of 170 million items, from manuscripts to literary and historical treasures. Exhibits include iconic documents like the Magna Carta, original Beatles lyrics, and rare global maps and manuscripts. The library is a hub of exhibitions and events, showcasing contemporary art alongside ancient texts, there is so much to explore that you might need to visit more than once!

Natural History Museum

If dinosaurs capture your imagination, the Natural History Museum should be at the top of your itinerary. Upon entry, you’ll be greeted by suspended skeletons hanging from the ceilings. Behold the awe-inspiring T. Rex and the colossal Titanosaur, a prehistoric giant. Explore the impressive Stegosaurus and admire the array of birds, minerals including mesmerising gems, and genuine fossils from volcanic eruptions and seismic events. Whether guided tours or self-guided explorations are your preference, the museum promises unforgettable experiences. And when you want to rest and recharge, the on-site cafes provide a great place to chill out and enjoy tasty refreshments.

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

The architectural marvel of the RIBA building is a tribute to the 1930s design prowess of George Grey Wornum. Beyond its stunning façade lies a dynamic space buzzing with talks, exhibitions, and creative energy. Need to refuel? The shop and café await, complete with an inviting outdoor terrace. A remarkable architectural library, housing an astounding four million items, completes the experience. Free access, even for non-members, ensures that all can visit and enjoy the architectural phenomenon.

Best FREE Museums and Galleries in London

Tate Britain

Tate Britain, a global treasure trove of art, boasts an exceptional collection of British artistic expressions spanning from the 16th century to contemporary creations. From Turner and Gainsborough’s masterpieces to the evocative works of Hockney and Emin, this institution caters to art enthusiasts and seekers of discovery alike. With ongoing special exhibitions and events, each visit promises novel encounters. And with free admission to the gallery, the Tate Britain stands as an unmissable destination for cultural learnings.

Sir John Soane’s Museum

For architecture enthusiasts, a visit to Sir John Soane’s Museum is a must. The museum, created to honour the legacy of English architect Sir John Soane, showcases an array of his finest creations – from meticulously crafted furniture to intricate architectural models and captivating paintings. Soane’s vision lives on in this architectural haven, which houses his legacy as a revered architect. Engaging tours, enlightening workshops, and tailored clubs for aspiring architects ensure a truly immersive experience. Remember to capture the museum’s splendour with your camera; Sir John Soane’s house deserves a place in your memory.

National Army Museum

The National Army Museum is your portal into Britain’s military history, featuring an extensive collection spanning weaponry, uniforms, paintings, and photographs. Yet, this space is more than a repository of relics – it’s a place for learning and exploration. Take a look at exhibits that narrate the stories of men and women who’ve served in the British army across eras and conflicts, from the Battle of Waterloo to the Falklands War. Interactive exhibits, workshops, and guided tours offer educational experiences for all ages, allowing you to step into the shoes of a soldier through interactive displays and immersive insights.

Best FREE Museums and Galleries in London

The Library and Museum of Freemasonry

Freemasons’ Hall, an architectural gem at the intersection of Queen Street and Long Acre, beckons with its grandeur. Nestled within, the Library and Museum offer access to a vast treasure trove of Masonic material, free for your exploration. Delve into history, unravel mysteries, and soak in the heritage of the Freemasons. For the curious soul, a visit to Freemasons’ Hall is an opportunity to uncover hidden narratives and indulge yourself in a realm of historical intrigue.

While the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street might not be your thing, not to mention the temptation to buy things you don’t need, just because you’re in The Big Smoke, there is still plenty to see and do without spending a penny! With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that London wins awards as being one of the top cities to visit in the world year after year.

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