It makes sense that the Museum of London is located near the London Roman Wall, which is one of the oldest remaining sections of the city. Because out of all of the museums located in the English capital, none educate visitors on the history of London quite like the Museum of London.
The Museum of London attracts more than a million visitors each year, and educates tourists and locals on the history of London from as far back as the prehistoric times, to as recent as the 2012 Olympic Games.
The museum was originally established as the Guildhall Museum in 1826, although its focus was said to be more on archaeology than the City of London itself. But over time, the museum eventually expanded to include a variety of objects like paintings and costumes; and by the Second World War, the museum evolved into what it is today.
Museum of London Highlights
From interactive timelines, unique and historical objects, children's activities, and even short films, visiting the Museum of London is a kind of experience that ignites all the senses.
Although there are a variety of temporary exhibitions that are held throughout the year (which range from contemporary British photography, Sherlock Holmes, the Roman Baths, and the history of London cinema), some of the many permanent galleries you can expect to see at the Museum of London include:
- “London Before London” (which discusses what it would have been like to live in the Lower Thames Valley from 450,000 BC until the Roman city of Londinium in 50 AD).
- “Roman London” (detailing how the Romans built the city of Londinium between 50 and 410 AD).
- “Medieval London” (which covers everything from the collapse of Londinium to Queen Elizabeth I's accession to the throne).
- “War Plague & Fire” (highlighting some of the most tumultuous events in London's history, such as The Great Fire of London in 1666, the execution of King Charles I in 1649, and the plague which ravaged the city in 1665).
- “Expanding City” (where you can learn how the city recovered after The Great Fire of London).
- “People's City and Gallery” (which educates visitors on London's many famous residents).
- “World City” (covering London from the 1950s to today, including the punk movement of the 1970s, and the decline of the factory industries during the 1980s).
- “The City Gallery” (which focuses on London's modern architecture).
Some of the most famous items that shouldn't be missed by any visitor to the Museum of London include:
- The Lord Mayor's State Coach (which was first used by Lord Mayor Sir Charles Asgill in 1757).
- A skull of an extinct auroch (or wild cattle) which was found in Ilford, and dates all the way back to 245-186 BC.
- The Roman Mosaic (found in the 1880s near Queen Victoria Street).
- A set of 15th century altar paintings (which are believed to be from the Westminster Abbey chapel).
- A Fanshawe dress which was made by French Huguenots silk weavers during the 1700s.
- A re-creation of London's 18th century Pleasure Gardens.
- The Selfridges lift (which was installed in the Selfridges department store in 1928).
- A Douglas Vespa (which was last owned by Eric Montague).
- A painting of the Brixton Riots (circa 1987).
- The 2012 Olympic Cauldron.
- The café in the museum can be a little pricey, so you may want to have a bite to eat before you visit.
- It's easy to get lost inside the museum, so going on a tour may be a good idea if you're worried about missing anything.
- Although there are tons of different interactive activities for kids to try, young children may get bored if you plan on spending more than a few hours wandering around the museum. If worse comes to worst, you can always purchase a children's activity sheet from the reception for £1 to keep them entertained during your visit.