Yes, you’re reading this right. There are free museums in London where you don’t fork a single cent out of your dwindling bank account to visit.
From art museums, world history museums and even a wax museum, London has something to offer all of us.
In fact, there are over 170 museums here and you could easily spend weeks strolling around. Some of the more popular museums include The British Museum, Science Museum and Tate Modern.
While some museums have an entrance fee, there are free museums in London where you can see art and other treasures without breaking the bank (we’re looking at you MoMA and your US$14 fee).
What’s even better is that many of them are arguably also some of the best museums in the world and are home to thousands of artefacts you won’t find anywhere else.
Why there are free museums in London
In 2000, then Culture Secretary Chris Smith introduced a policy to scrap entry fees to museums and galleries for all visitors.
The aim was to give people as much as they wanted to the artefacts and exhibits of these museums — a privilege for the many, not the few.
Smith promised that it would usher in “an exciting new beginning for the arts and cultural life of this country.” It did — since then, visits to London museums that previously charged went up by 151%.
“We have the finest museums and galleries in the world, but unlike other major capital cities, they are free to visit in this country,” Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.
“The range of items on display is breathtaking, from world-famous paintings to amazing discoveries from the natural world. All of this, free of charge, for anyone to visit as often as they like.
“Our free museums and galleries ensure that culture is for everyone, not just the lucky few. I am particularly proud that we have secured the future of free museums despite the current financial climate.”
To make up for lost income, national museums received extra government funding. Sometimes, they also charge for special exhibitions.
If you’re a student on a budget and don’t know which ones to start with, here are free museums in London you can explore:
The British Museum
Considered a titanic cultural attraction, The British Museum is the biggest, oldest and among the free museums in London with an illustrious reputation.
Here, you will discover two million years of human history and culture split into separate wings for Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Rome, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas.
The museum also hosts exhibitions that come with a price.
Daily: 10.00a.m. to 5.00p.m. (Fridays: 8.30p.m.)
Last entry: 4.00p.m. (Fridays: 7.30p.m.)
See full opening hours
Book your free tickets here.
The Victoria and Albert Museum
Located a five-minute walk from South Kensington Tube station, the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is the world’s largest museum with over 1.25 million objects.
This includes applied and decorative arts and design as well as sculpture. For those unable to travel, the museum website also holds various online collections you can explore from the comfort of your home.
Do note that you require a membership to be entitled to the free ticket. More about that on their website.
Daily: 10.00a.m. to 5.45p.m.
Friday: 10.00a.m. to 10.00p.m.
The Queen’s House
Part of the Royal Museums Greenwich, The Queen’s House is one of the most beautiful art galleries in London. Beauty radiates not just in the artwork, but in the actual mansion and its grounds.
There is also an online highlights section that talks about the stories and history behind some of these artworks.
Located in Greenwich, it is easily accessible from Cutty Sark DLR station and Greenwich and Maze Hill rail stations. Click here for directions.
Open daily: 10.00a.m to 5.00a.m.
Secure your free tickets here.
Museum of the Home
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Museum of the Home is among the free museums in London worth visiting.
As the name aptly puts it, it showcases how the idea of a home has changed in the last century and aims to challenge us to rethink the way we live.
The entrance is opposite Hoxton Station (London Overground), on Geffrye Street. Feel free to explore their online collection here too!
Tuesday to Sunday and bank holidays: 10.00a.m. to 5.00p.m. (last entry 4.00p.m.)
Closed on Mondays
The Science Museum
Since its inception in 1857, The Science Museum is now home to over 300,000 items, such asthe oldest surviving steam locomotive, the first jet engine, the Apollo 10 command module and thousands more.
There are a total of nine galleries including Energy, Space, Flight and Medicine. It is another one of the free museums in London to visit that’s easily accessible by public transport.
The nearest tube station is South Kensington, a five-minute stroll away.
Open daily: 10.00a.m. to 6.00p.m. (last entry 5.15p.m.)
Free tickets can be booked here.
Still keen on exploring other museums? Read here for a full list of museums.