10 London Museums You Can Visit for Free

Some of them close late in the evening on weekends.

(SPOT.ph) Basking in some culture in London, the home of West End, can burn a hole through your pocket especially if you're there to see Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton or Jack Thorne's Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. But the rest of your art-filled vacation doesn't have to give your wallet a beating. Luckily, the capital of the United Kingdom has a number of museums where you can get in for free. Some of them are even open until the evening on the weekends, perfect if you're catching a matinee show during the day.

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Here are 10 London museums that offer free admission every day:

The British Museum

PHOTO BY Christa I. De La Cruz
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Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, London
www.britishmuseum.org
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; with extended hours every Friday (8:30 p.m.)

The British Museum, which was established in 1753, houses anything and everything you need to know about the history of ancient civilizations, including sculptures and coffins from Ancient Egypt, monument replicas and vases from Ancient Greece and Rome, and ceramics from China and South Asia. Exploring the five-storey and 95-room museum can be overwhelming, so we recommend following an object trail, such as "A History of the World in 100 Objects" or "Desire, Love, and Identity," which you can download from their website. They have free audio guides available on Spotify. There are also special trails depending on how long you can stay at the British Museum, such as a one-hour guide that lets you see the Rosetta Stone and the gilded inner coffin of a Theban priestess; and a three-hour trail that leads you to an Easter Island statue and samurai armor.

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Victoria and Albert Museum

PHOTO BY Christa I. De La Cruz

Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London
vam.ac.uk
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.; with extended hours every Friday (10 p.m.)

If you're into architecture, applied arts, and design, then the Victoria and Albert Museum (often called the V&A) should be on the top of your list. It features over two million objects in all its six floors, which are divided according to medium (ceramics, sculpture, gold and silver, tapestry, et cetera), period (Medieval, Renaissance, and 20th century), and country. The most popular halls are the Cast Courts, which house reproductions of some of the world's most inspiring works of art, such as Michelangelo's "David" (1856), a tabernacle from the Church of St. Leonard (1876), and the tomb of St. Peter Martyr (1869).

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V&A was founded in 1852, but it didn't move to its present site until 1857. Entry to the permanent galleries is free of charge, but you have to pay extra to get into the special temporary exhibitions.

Natural History Museum

PHOTO BY Christa I. De La Cruz

Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London
nhm.ac.uk
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:50 p.m.

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Fans of nature documentaries will have the time of their lives at London's Natural History Museum, which houses about 80 million specimens from the natural world. Visitors first see a 25-meter blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling of the Hintze Hall, which also has a piece of rock that's as old as the solar system, a 129-million-year-old dinosaur fossil, and a 120-year-old and 300-kilogram coral. This hall leads you to four other zones: Blue Zone, where you can learn more about the animal kingdom; the Orange Zone, which features a wildlife garden; the Green Zone, where you can find a massive collection of precious gemstones, minerals, crystals, more fossils, and a rare rock from Mars; and the Red Zone, which warns museumgoers about the natural forces that shape our planet.

True to its initiative to reduce single-use plastic and preserve the planet, the Natural History Museum has water-refilling stations for your tumblers on every floor.

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Imperial War Museum London

Lambeth Road, London
www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-london
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

You know what they say about learning from the past to avoid repeating the future, and the Imperial War Museum London is the right place to do it. It tells the story of World War I and goes into its worldwide impact. On display at the museum are more than 1,000 objects, including replicas of a Mark V Tank and a Sopwith Camel plane, remains of a Japanese aircraft, soldier uniforms, and other remnants from the past.

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Imperial War Museum London is one of the five Imperial War Museums in England. The rest—which include the Churchill War Rooms along King Charles Street and HMS Belfast in The Queen's Walk (both in London), Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, and Imperial War Museum Duxford in Cambridgeshire—don't offer free admission.

British Library

PHOTO BY Christa I. De La Cruz
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96 Euston Road, Kings Cross, London
www.bl.uk
Open from Monday to Thursday, from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; every Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; every Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and every Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Aside from providing a place for research and study, the British Library also houses galleries where visitors can see the notebooks of Jane Austen, the original document of the Magna Carta that was issued by King John of England in 1215, and over 7,000 pages of Leonardo da Vinci's sketchbook. There's also a special section about William Shakespeare and The Beatles.

National Portrait Gallery

PHOTO BY Christa I. De La Cruz
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St. Martin's Place, Charing Cross, London
www.npg.org.uk
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; with extended hours every Friday (9 p.m.)

It's easy to find your way around the National Portrait Gallery—just download the free Smartify app, "scan" a portrait, and read more about the works on display. Rooms and portraits are arranged by period: the Tudors, the Stuarts, artists and scientists from the 18th century, the Romantics, proponents of Victorian and Edwardian arts, heroes of the First World War, and contemporary personalities.

Don't miss the special wall at Room 3 called "This Sceptred Isle," which lists Shakespeare's plays alongside the names of England's kings—said to be the inspiration of The Bard's works. Also check out creative portraits of Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi-British architect and the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize; Kelly Holmes, a record-holding middle distance athlete; and Ed Sheeran—well, we all know who he is.

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Tate Britain

PHOTO BY Tony Hisgett 
Wikimedia Commons

Millbank, Westminster, London
www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-britain
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tate Britain, which was first known as the National Gallery of British Art in 1897, traces art history in the United Kingdom starting from the 1500s. Must-see masterpieces include: "An Allegory of Man" (1596) by an unknown artist; works by Sir Joshua Reynolds, The Royal Academy of Arts' first president; landscape paintings by J.M.W. Turner and John Constable from 1810 to 1840; and "The Mud Bath" (1914) by David Bomberg, a Futurist. 60 Years, the last segment of Walk Through British Art, presents works by female artists, like Tracey Emin, Mona Hatoum, and Rachel Whiteread, from 1960s to the present.

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Science Museum

PHOTO BY Christa I. De La Cruz

Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London
www.sciencemuseum.org.uk
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Geeking out is more than welcome at London's five-floor Science Museum, which is right beside the Natural History Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum. It maps out the most important discoveries and inventions in human history, including the evolution of the watch starting from the 1600s, the first aircraft—replicas of which are hanging in midair in one of the galleries, the birth of the telephone, and man’s journey beyond our atmosphere.

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If you have extra pounds to spare, you can fly your own jet through a flight simulator or experience hair-raising live science shows.

The National Gallery

PHOTO BY Christa I. De La Cruz

Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London
nationalgallery.org.uk
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; with extended hours every Friday (9 p.m.)

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With its high-ceilinged halls and 66 rooms full of paintings that date all the way back to 1200s, appreciating all the works at The National Gallery seems like an impossible task. To make the most of your visit, we recommend starting with the Impressionists—Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, and Georges Seurat—from Rooms 33 to 46 on the second floor, before traveling back in time to the Early Renaissance.

Other must-see pieces include Piero della Francesca's "The Baptism of Christ" (1440), Sandro Botticelli’s “Venus and Mars” (1483), Agnolo Bronzino's "An Allegory with Venus and Cupid" (1545), Peter Paul Rubens's "Samson and Delilah" (1609), and J. M. W. Turner's "The Fighting Temeraire" (1839).

Tate Modern

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Bankside, London
www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern
Open from Sunday to Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and from Friday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Open till late on weekends, the Tate Modern is a good spot to punctuate a whole day of museum-hopping. It specializes in international modern and contemporary art, which makes it a breath of fresh air after looking at the classics. Exhibitions change frequently, but the permanent display aptly called Start Display jumpstarts your exploration of the museum's collection. It guides you on how to go about appreciating art and asks questions like "What is your first reaction to the work?," "What do you think the work is about?", and "Does the size of the work affect your experience of it?" Another room, called Performer and Participant, goes into how artists from the 1960s to the 1990s created works that require interaction with the viewers. There's also Materials and Objects, which looks at the use of diverse materials in creating art.

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The Tate Modern is housed in what used to be the Bankside Power Station, which supplied the city with electricity from 1891 to 1981. The art museum took advantage of the building's industrial design, including three underground oil tanks that are now used for massive art installations and performance art. 

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