Free Museums in London

Here is our list of the best free museums in London, including science, military, history, and art museums. We also list the best kid-friendly options. For more things to do, check out our full guide to London on a budget

 

 

ART GALLERIES, MUSEUMS, AND EXHIBITS

London is a hub of international art and culture, which means that many of the city’s free museums are world-class art galleries and exhibits.

Here is our list of the best free art museums and galleries.


The National Gallery

One of the most impressive collections of art throughout the ages is right in London at The National Gallery and completely free.

 

 

You can see works from da Vinci and Degas all the way to more primitive stone sculptures. 


Tate Modern

Get a look at modern and contemporary art from artists around the world at Tate Modern.

 

 

They have both themed exhibits – such as examining the way media and modern society impact the world – to exhibits based on specific artists.


Tate Britain

If you’re interested in British art, Tate Britain is where you need to visit. You can find exhibits on specific periods in British art history and on famous British artists as well. 


The National Portrait Gallery

If you have a love of British culture and history or are interested in learning more, The National Portrait Gallery is a good choice.

 

 

They are committed to appreciating the people who make up British culture through portraits.


Victoria & Albert Museum

Also known as the V&A, this massive museum has curated one of the largest collections of art and design in the country.

 

 

You can find paintings, sculptures, armor, and clothing from throughout history.


Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection was compiled throughout the 18th and 19th centuries before being gifted to the British Nation in the late 1800s.

 

 

It remains one of the most impressive collections of sculptures, furniture, armor, and paintings in the world.


Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman Amphitheatre

The Guildhall Art Gallery is a lovely collection of paintings and other artwork that rotate throughout the year, much of which is Victorian or pictures of London.

 

 

While building a new gallery in the 1980s, the ruins of London’s only Roman amphitheatre were discovered – so you can see that, too!  


Whitechapel Gallery

Whitechapel Gallery displays works from contemporary and modern artists. You can find works from artists like Picasso, Frida Kahlo, and Sophie Calle.


Serpentine Galleries

The Serpentine Galleries are two separate galleries within Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, connected by a bridge over the Serpentine Lake.

You can find contemporary paintings, film exhibitions, and Japanese architectural drawings amongst the collections available for viewing.


Included in Tourist Passes:

If you have your eye on an art gallery that isn’t free, there is most likely a way to get a discounted or cheap ticket.

By buying a tourist pass, you get entrance to these museums included:

  • Queen’s Galleries
  • Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art
  • Fan Museum
  • Werner Collection at Ranger House
  • Foundling Museum

Check out our article about London tourist passes here.


Honorable Mention:

Looking for even more free museums?

 


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MILITARY MUSEUMS

The UK has a long military history and gives great honor to veterans who served in the various branches of armed forces.

We also have a post that lists all militarily related museums, including those which have entry costs.

Here is our list of free military museums in London – for a full military museum list, check out our post here


Imperial War Museum

The full Imperial War Museum is an organization of collections throughout London, with the namesake location holding everything from letters and firsthand accounts of war to machinery and recordings. 

 

 


National Maritime Museum in Greenwich

The Royal Navy is represented in the National Maritime Museum. From exploration and discoveries to feats of bravery, you can explore the exhibits and learn about sailors, captains, and technology from the UK’s maritime history.

 

 


National Army Museum

Learn about the stories of soldiers in the UK Army through historic paintings, films, and weaponry at the National Army Museum.

 

 

If you’re interested in the technology of the World Wars or the history of poppies as a symbol, this museum is for you. 


Royal Air Force Museum

Aviation enthusiasts will love the RAF Museum in London.

 

 

You’ll find historic aircraft and flight simulators, as well as an in-depth look at the first 100 years of the Royal Air Force and its development.


Museums included in Tourist Passes

London has a wide variety of military museums, paying tribute to the sacrifices made during wartime.

Here are some other museums throughout the city that require purchasing a ticket, but can also be visited for free or at a discount with the purchase of a tourist pass.

  • HMS Belfast
  • Churchill War Rooms
  • Household Cavalry Museum
  • Tower of London with Beefeater Tours

 


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SCIENCE AND MEDICAL MUSEUMS IN LONDON

If science and medicine are what you’re interested in, take a look at this list of museums. In London, you’ll find everything from natural history to medical marvels.

 

 

You can find even more medical museums on our full Medical Museums in London post. 


Natural History Museum

See skeletons, fossils, and wildlife photography to learn about the history of life on earth.

The Natural History Museum is one of the main three museums on Exhibition Road and is a beautiful building on its own. 


Science Museum

From biology to astronomy, the Science Museum on Exhibition Road is packed with objects, photos, and interactive exhibits that give you a peek into the scientific wonders of our world.

Go to find past discoveries that today’s technology is built on, as well as guesses about what the future will be like.


British Dental Association Museum

If you’ve ever wondered what dentistry looked like in the 1700s and through the years until today, take a look at the British Dental Museum.

 

 

The museum holds dentists’ chairs, tools, dentures, and other dental objects.


Royal London Hospital Museum

Find the strange and fascinating in the Royal London Hospital Museum. You’ll see everything from collections of historic surgical instruments to a replica skeleton of the Elephant Man.

It is housed in a former church crypt and has a display on Jack the Ripper, to make things a bit spooky.


Grant Museum of Zoology

From a frightening skull of an African Rock Python to their collection of animal brains, there are enough novelties in the Grant Museum of Zoology to keep everyone entertained for the afternoon.


Horniman Museum

This unique museum holds diverse collections of objects – from gardens and an aquarium to animal bones and instruments.

 

 

Visit the Horniman, a Victorian museum, to see internationally-acclaimed displays of artifacts from years past.


Anesthesia Heritage Centre

If you’re medically-minded, a visit to the Anesthesia Heritage Centre would be a great way to spend a few hours in London.

The centre holds a rare book collection, historic anesthetic instruments, and biographies of important people to the practice.


Wellcome Collection

If you want to change your perspective on health, wellness, and science, take a visit to the Wellcome Collection.

 

 

You’ll find medical instruments, architectural displays, and art collections as you discover how artwork affects medicine and health.


The Faraday Museum at the Royal Institution

From experiments and technological advancements to the people who completed them, the Faraday Museum is a snapshot of British innovation.

 

 

You can even find Michael Faraday’s lab, preserved as it was in the 1850s.


Medical Museums Included in Tourist Passes

You can find more museums about all things science and medicine on the list of attractions included in several London tourist attraction discount passes.

Here is a list of some of the museums available:

  • Florence Nightingale Museum
  • Freud Museum
  • Old Operating Theatre Museum

Cheap Science Museums

These museums aren’t quite free, but they are affordable to enter.

Alexander Flemming Laboratory Museum

  • Adults £4 | Children, Students, and Seniors £2

Hunterian Museum

  • Closed until 2021 for renovations
  • Some archives available online

Honorable Mention:

There are even more medical and science museums in London. Here are our honorable mentions you might want to visit:

 


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GENERAL AND HISTORY-RELATED MUSEUMS IN LONDON

London has been a city for roughly 2,000 years. That is a lot of time for people to live, move, and make exciting advancements, and that means this is the perfect city for museums about history.

 

 

Here is our list of free history-related museums.

And come along with us on one of our free walking tours to learn about the history of this great city.  We offer a WW2 London Blitz Tour


Bank of England Museum

What happened to the use of gold as currency? You’ll find out why the Bank of England switched to paper in the museum.

You can also hold a bar of gold and get a picture with it! 


Museum of London

How has London changed over the years? Head to the Museum of London to learn about the city in Medieval times, under Roman rule, and how it became an international hub today.

 

 


British Museum

For an interesting overview of human history, visit the British Museum. You can find artifacts from ancient Egypt (mummies, anyone?), ceramics from China, and the Rosetta Stone.

 

 

If you want a narrated tour, we lead one!


British Library

Written histories, maps, and illustrated manuscripts from over 3,000 years of civilization sit in the British Library.

You can even view one of the world’s earliest printed books!


Burgh House & Hampstead Museum

Find 300 years of local neighborhood history in the historic Burgh House in Hampstead.

From antiques to artwork and fashion, you can see how the neighborhood developed throughout the centuries to the present day. 


London Mithraeum

Also known as the Temple of Mithras, this museum is an ancient Roman temple left from the days of Roman rule.

 

 

It was discovered during a fairly recent excavation in the 1950s and now displays artifacts left by the first Londoners.


Royal Academy of Music Museum

Discover collections of unique instruments, including instruments that have been played by or for famous historical figures.

This small museum is run by the Academy, so check out the cheap (or sometimes free) concerts given by students.

Tip: If you go to the basement-level bar during intermission, you might catch some musicians!  


Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

This university-run museum is home to 80,000 artifacts of Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology, and it one of the best in the world.

If you’ve ever wondered how people from the Nile Valley lived, visit the Petrie Museum.


Museum of London Docklands

How did rivers shape London society through the ages? Find out at the Museum of London Docklands.

 

 

You can even visit an exhibition about the lost rivers what we can no longer see.


Museum of Freemasonry

If you’ve ever been fascinated by the Freemasons, this museum is for you. Discover 300 years of Freemason history, with literature and saved artifacts.

 

 

There are even 5 free tours per day – depending on whether or not the meeting house is in use – so check the schedule!


London Sewing Machine Museum

Sewing enthusiasts might enjoy a short trip to the London Sewing Machine Museum. There are 600 machines on display, many of which are rare or have historic significance. Their opening hours, however, are restrictive.


Included in Tourist Passes

Looking to visit as many museums as possible? Interested in some that aren’t free? An easy way to do that is by purchasing a London tourist pass.

They offer bulk discounts and sometimes include entrance to attractions for free.

Here is a list of museums that are included in some tourist passes:

  • Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
  • Charles Dickens Museum
  • Rugby Museum
  • Cartoon Museum
  • Jewish Museum
  • London Bridge Experience
  • Madame Tussauds
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not
  • Benjamin Franklin House
  • London Canal Museum
  • Museum of Brands, Packaging, and Advertising
  • Twining Tea Shop and Museum (with the Turbo Pass)

Cheap or Almost-Free Museums

Not all the museums in London are free, unfortunately, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t affordable!

 


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KID-FRIENDLY MUSEUMS IN LONDON

It is entirely possible to have a fun and educational trip when you add in some of these great family-friendly museums to your itinerary.

 

 

Here is a list of free and cheap museums in London that are great for kids.


The British Museum

Kids will love exploring history through statues of pharaohs, ancient board games, and a large, mummified bull. The British Museum holds artifacts from every continent – including the famous Rosetta Stone.


Museum of London

Learn about the events that shaped London in the Museum of London. The whole family will enjoy discovering the remains of exotic animals that used to live in the capitol, like hippos!


Natural History Museum

One of the most exciting museums on this list is the Natural History Museum, thanks to their huge dinosaur skeletons assembled and standing high overhead. You can also discover present-day animal life with insect and wildlife photography exhibits.


Science Museum

Discover how the world works at the Science Museum.

 

 

Any future astronauts in your family can enjoy the gallery dedicated to space exploration, with a full-sized model of the lander that put the first men on the moon!


V&A Museum of Childhood

This branch of the V&A Museum is filled with wonder and whimsy. There are collections of children’s books and literature and a small city of working dollhouses. Check the Museum of Childhood schedule for free activities to join in on, too!


Grant Museum of Zoology

Get a glimpse of just how many different species share the planet with us at the Grant Museum of Zoology. You can find a collection of brains and bisected heads as well as participate in family art activities that change monthly!


Burgh House & Hampstead Museum

Burgh House is a historic house dedicated to local history in the Hampstead neighborhood. The kids will have great fun trying on available old-fashioned clothes and playing with interactive displays.


Museum of London Docklands

This is a branch of the Museum of London dedicated to the history of the London docks on the River Thames and how trade impacted the city’s history.

 

 

Kids will love the model ships and walking through Sailortown.


Horniman Museum

The Horniman Museum has an eclectic mix of music and natural history artifacts. There are plenty of exhibits and activities to keep the kids entertained from the gardens and butterfly house to animal specimens and story times on specific Sundays.


Bank of England Museum

Learn about the history of banking and how the Bank of England works today at the museum. While here, you can take a photo in the gold vault corridor, see bank notes through the years, and hold a solid gold bar!


Included in Tourist Passes

There are family-friendly museums all over the greater London area, so there is sure to be something you’ll find interesting. If you want to see a museum that isn’t free you can save by purchasing a London city pass that includes entrance!

Here is a list of museums that are great for kids and included in a tourist attraction discount pass:

  • HMS Belfast
  • London Transport Museum (Children are always FREE!)
  • Old Operating Theater Museum
  • Royal Mews
  • London Canal Museum
  • Charles Dickens Museum
  • Foundling Museum
  • Madame Tussauds
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not
  • Cartoon Museum

Affordable Kid-Friendly Museums

Here is a list of museums that are both cheap and great for the family!

 


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MUSEUMS THAT ARE FREE WITH TOURIST PASSES

Not all of London’s museums are free, but you can get free entrance included in the purchase of a tourist attraction discount pass. You can save up to 55% off of retail ticket prices.

Here is our list of paid museums that are free with an all-inclusive tourist pass.

 

 

  • Tower of London with Jewel Tower
  • Hampton Court Palace
  • Tower Bridge
  • Madame Tussauds
  • Kensington Palace
  • Windsor Castle
  • Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
  • HMS Belfast
  • Kew Gardens
  • Royal Albert Hall
  • The Cutty Sark
  • Handel & Hendrix London
  • The Queen’s Gallery
  • Household Cavalry Museum
  • Fan Museum
  • Freud Museum London
  • Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
  • The Guards Museum
  • The Royal Mews
  • Beefeater Gin Distillery Tour
  • Twickenham, Chelsea, and Emirates Stadium Tours
  • Banqueting House
  • London Transport Museum
  • Jewish Museum London
  • Apsley House
  • London Canal Museum
  • Benjamin Franklin House
  • Keats House
  • Florence Nightingale Museum
  • London Museum of Water and Steam
  • Pollock’s Toy Museum
  • Wellington Arch
  • Museum of Brands, Packaging, and Advertising
  • The Old Operating Theatre Museum
  • Wernher Collection at Ranger’s House
  • Cartoon Museum
  • Eltham Palace
  • Golden Hinde
  • Charles Dickens Museum
  • Science Museum IMAX
  • Royal Observatory Greenwich
  • Churchill War Rooms
  • Westminster Abbey
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • National Army Museum

 


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