5 of the Best British Museums

The UK is renowned throughout the world for its excellent museums.  Most of these have free entry and make an ideal destination whilst on family summer holidays in the UK.  Presented in no particular order here are five of the top British museums.

British Museum
The British Museum in London is probably the single most-visited museum in the UK.  It is situated right in the heart of the busy metropolis, and the building itself is an outstanding fusion of contemporary and classic architecture.  For anyone interested in archaeology the “BM” – as it is generally known – is an absolute must-see with its vast galleries devoted to many of the world’s great civilisations covering all periods of history, as well as the prehistoric era.

The British Museum in London

The Egyptian exhibits are particularly popular with visitors who crowd in to see the amazing, brightly-coloured sarcophagi and scary-looking mummies.  The museum was founded in 1753 and was the world’s first national public museum.

Science Museum
The emphasis at the Science Museum in South Kensington is on fun and education.  This museum was founded in 1857 and was originally part of the South Kensington Museum before it budded off in 1909.  This museum will attract anyone interested in technology down the ages, and there are some terrific interactive exhibits that are always popular with youngsters in particular.  The Science Museum contains its own IMAX 3D cinema for viewing stunning science films, and there are regular special exhibitions such as recent ones about the history of alchemical imagery and a History of Medicine exhibit.

National Museum of Scotland
The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh houses many permanent and temporary exhibitions on art and design, world cultures, the natural world, Scottish history and much more, making it the cultural centre of not only Edinburgh but of Scotland as a whole.  It is all under one roof, and the museum also has a great cafeteria, so you can easily spend a full day exploring it.  The museum was founded in 2006 by the merger of the Royal Museum (opened 1866) and the Museum of Scotland (opened 1998).

Great North Museum  
The Great North Museum in Newcastle-upon-Tyne was opened in 2009.  It incorporates the vast collections of the previous Hancock Museum, whose Victorian granite building forms its main element, and those of the Museum of Antiquities of Newcastle University.  It contains a full-scale interactive model of Hadrian’s Wall, as well as many innovative and impressive displays on all aspects of natural history.  There are also excellent displays on the Greek and Roman civilisations.  The museum’s star attraction for kids especially is a life-size skeleton of a T-Rex.

Victoria and Albert Museum
The V&A as it is affectionately known is one of the real jewels in the crown of British museums.  Located in South Kensington close to the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum (also fantastic) the V&A was founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert.

It contains 145 galleries and covers 5,000 years of artistic endeavour from every continent and in just about every medium imaginable, from ancient times to the present.  There are vast collections of ceramics, glass, costumes, textiles, jewellery, sculpture, and furniture, and there are more items here from the Italian Renaissance than anywhere else besides Italy itself.

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