Visiting London Museums is a must-do – so much history, culture and science. Who hasn’t heard of the British Museum?
While we originally planned to head to the Tower of London on Day Two of our UK honeymoon, gloomy rainy skies changed our plans. We decided on a bit of indoor exploration at three of London’s museums – all with free entry.
Grabbing our umbrellas and coffee-to-go (or for takeaway, as they say in the UK), we headed to Russell Square Station early in the morning. The station itself is cool in that it still retains a vintage facade. To boot, to get to the street level you need to take an elevator (a.k.a “a lift”) as it has no escalators. The alternative is 175 steps up, and so the lift was our choice to preserve our energy for other activities in the day.
Our first stop was Russell Square for a brief visit before heading to the nearby British Museum. What a difference a season makes! During my last visit in 2008, it was August with trees in full greenery and flowers everywhere. Our spring-time view was a bit more drab with light green leaflets trying to show on some trees.
Due to the rain we were experiencing, there were puddles galore in the park and elsewhere. We caught a few pigeons taking a group bath, turning their backs to us – we like to think, for the sake of modesty.
We headed over to the British Museum just as it opened up at 10:00 a.m. This meant fewer fellow tourists to contend with while walking around.
The British Museum is one of the world’s best and contains famous exhibits such as the Elgin Marbles, Sutton Hoo burial, numerous Egyptian mummies and statues and of course, the Rosetta Stone, which helped decipher hieroglyphics.
Once you enter the Museum’s Centre Court, you can’t help but have your eyes drift upwards to the mesmerizing pattern created by the glass ceiling. This area was redeveloped in 2001, with the Reading Room (originally opened in 1857, housing thousands of books – now an exhibition space) found in the center.
Walking around you spot something distinctly Canadian – a carved West Coast totem pole, towering towards the ceiling. We felt proudly Canadian to see this artifact prominently displayed.
You need to give yourself a couple of hours to walk around the British Museum. As a lover of anything ancient and historical, I was having a fantastic time exploring. We looked everywhere, including one spot which provided a top view of the museum below. By this time, it was about 10:40 a.m. with crowds starting to increase in size.
What most people first see when walking into the galleries are the Egyptian statues. The precision needed to create these beautiful works of art is a marvel.
The exhibits that I found most interesting were the European ones including some of the intricate artwork that has been created over the centuries, such as these two pieces:
After running around the British Museum for almost two hours, we popped back to the tube and headed to South Kensington station to visit the Natural History Museum. Heading up Exhibition Road, you note many little cafes and dining spots. This is a great place to refresh yourself before heading on to more exploring.
We had no expectations for the Natural History Museum. I had only read about it occasionally in books. Like the British Museum, it was free entry, so Frank and I escaped the rain and entered this huge building. The view that greeted us was colourful and a touch awe-inspiring. Showcasing all genres of science that could be found in the museum in the main entryway, this institution sets the tone. You’re in for an education! The escalator into the hollowed out planet Earth is pretty cool – if you’re a little kid!
Unfortunately we were feeling a touch claustrophobic at this museum due to numerous tourists. Being jostled by others as you tried viewing a piece wasn’t much fun, so we sped through the hallways, stopping only occasionally.
Before leaving, we headed into a huge hall…
Our last visit was to the nearby Victoria and Albert Museum. The last time I visited in 2008, I had to cut my tour short due to an intestinal bug that was causing discomfort. This time around, we were so weary and tired that we did a quick walk through. Must visit: the medieval and renaissance galleries.
Just as we finished a quick tour of Victoria and Albert Museum, it was about 1:30 p.m. We were so tired of walking around we stopped taking photos and just hauled butt back to the hotel. I did manage to whip out my iPhone to grab this last photo of the building’s entry facade.
Day 2 ended with dinner at The Library restaurant at the Rubens at the Palace. We highly recommend it for the delicious gourmet food, classy atmosphere and great service. Pricey but worth the splurge.
What is your favourite museum in London?