The Museum of London. Visitors Guide

Located in the Barbican, the Museum of London is, as its name suggests, a site dedicated to London.

The Museum of London

Like many other major museums in the capital, entry is free and this is the perfect spot for a either a quick browse through London’s history or a fascinating full day out.

History of the Museum of London

The current Museum of London opened in 1976. It was formed by amalgamating two existing museums and their collections – the Guildhall Museum and the London Museum.  If you are looking for an introduction to London and its history, then this is the place to go. It has over two million pieces in its collection, is Europe’s biggest archaeological archive and is visited by almost half a million people a year. It also has a sister museum, the Museum of London Docklands, located in Canary Wharf.

Museum of London exhibitions and collections

The museum’s main galleries and exhibitions track the history of London from its early days to today. Starting with ‘London Before London’, these cover key areas of the city’s past. These are organised into sections such as the Romans and the medieval period before looking at key centuries and times until you get to the present day. The way the museum is organised means that you can follow London’s timeline from start to finish if you wish or simply dip in and out of those periods that interest you.

The museum also runs a series of temporary exhibitions at any given time. Some of these are free – recent examples include an exhibit covering the 2012 London Olympics and an exhibition/workspace on the capital’s jewellery designers. Some temporary exhibits charge an entrance fee. These usually last for a few months and you’d be advised to book events ahead of time, as they can be quite popular. Examples of recent/upcoming paid exhibitions include one on the Cheapside Hoard and one on Sherlock Holmes.

Museum of London highlights

Although every visitor will find something they like in the museum, there are some popular highlights. Odder exhibits include a Roman bikini, Oliver Cromwell’s death mask and an original 18th century prison cell. The Victorian Walk is extremely popular with both adults and kids. The museum has recreated a shopping street so you can see how shops used to look – unfortunately, the local pub doesn’t sell beer but you can still soak up the atmosphere!

The museum is also the permanent home of the Lord Mayor’s Coach, although the coach is still used for the Lord Mayor’s Show in November every year so isn’t in the building for a couple of days that month. This golden coach was built over 250 years ago and is certain to impress.

Kids’ Activities at the Museum of London

Like any London museum, the Museum of London caters for its younger guests well. There are interactive activities dotted around the site and a range of organised activities at weekends and during school holiday periods. These include hosted hands-on activities, archaeology events, arts workshops and storytelling sessions that really bring history to life.  The museum also organizes events for the under-5s including play, sensory and hands-on activities. You can find an up to date listing of family events on the museum’s website.

You can also borrow family activity bags free at the museum’s information desk. These are suitable for 4-11 years olds. The museum also has some activity sheets for the over-5s and its website has sheets that you can download before your visit if you prefer.

Visiting the Museum of London

The Museum of London is located at London Wall in EC2. Its closest tubes are Barbican and St Pauls. Entrance to the museum, its permanent galleries and exhibitions and some temporary events is free; some larger exhibitions have a charge. The museum has a formal bar and kitchen dining area and a range of cafes dotted around. These can get busy, and you might find it easier to use the dedicated dining space – you can eat your own food here or buy takeaways from one of the cafes. There are other food and drink options in the area outside of the complex if you prefer not to use the museum’s facilities.

Taking in the Museum of London Docklands

The Museum of London Docklands is part of the Museum of London and is well worth a visit in its own right. This museum shows port and river collections dating from Roman London through to the Canary Wharf development. It is based in a 200 year old warehouse at West India Quay in Canary Wharf. Although you can access this museum from Canary Wharf tube or the DLR’s West India Quay station, kids might enjoy taking a Thames Clipper riverboat ride to get there – you can take boats from Maritime Greenwich Pier or Bankside to Canary Wharf Pier and the journey lasts around 15 minutes.

Visit this link to the official Museum of London website; for opening times and visitor info.

View Larger Map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Comments

  • A.J.Spencer on London East End Street NamesI am looking for any information on Rosher Row ? It was still there in the 1960's as I remember taking my G/Friend of the time to meet my aunt Ett
  • JM Tubbs on Manchester Hotel | Aldersgate Street | WW2 PhotosMy great great grandfather Henry Thomas Tubbs and his business partner Joseph Lewis built this hotel and owned it for a time after it was opened. The initial cost in 1879 was around £70,000. It originally had 240 bedrooms but was expanded. There was a second main entrance on Long
  • JM Tubbs on Manchester Hotel | Aldersgate Street | WW2 PhotosYou could check the 1911 census. Either a subscription or a local studies library should have one you can use.
  • Charles Sage on History of Canning Town East LondonI was born in 1939 and lived in Beckton rd , I can rememember after the war going to the Queens theatre in poplar to see the variety shows , I think the compare was called Buttons,does anyone else remember the theatre.
  • Margaret Knight ( nee Key ) on The History of Beckton Gas WorksMy father was a stoker at the gas works and we lived in one of the company houses , 46 WinsorTerrace until I married in 1957,
  • Charles Sage on History of Canning Town East LondonPatlrick , We lived very close to Hermit rd after moving from Beckton rd in fact we drove along there this very day , we went to the cemetery to take flowers to put on my parents grave. To put it bluntly Canning Town is like a foreign country now
  • Naz on Alf Garnett East London’s Famous Resident.Barnet is not rhyming slang for Alf Garnett, it is rhyming slang for Barnett Fair, that piece of slang was in use well before Johnny Speight wrote TDUDP
  • Patrick Blake-Kerry on History of Canning Town East LondonMakes me laugh, the talk of hop picking as I ended up living in Hampshire as my mum and brother were bombed out and evacuated in 1940. They ended up in Bentley because it was the only place the driver knew outside London. Conversly having stayed and live in Bentley
  • Charlie sage on History of Canning Town East LondonHi Alfie Brown ! I remember the hop picking very well they were great times down China farm , the old huts lightig the fires going so mum could get dinner going , that long walk to the shop opposite the green hill, Bert doing the toilets , scrumping in
  • Carol Featherstone on Second World War Bombing Raid South Hallsville SchoolMy nan and grandad Pat and Emily Murphy were killed in the school leaving my mum an orphan at six she was brought up by her nan Lou McKay
  • Tim Conlan on History of Poplar East LondonGrindley and Co of 21 to 23 Broomfield Street, Poplar, London, E 1868 Company established. 1914 Tar and rosin distillers. Specialities: insulating and transformer oils, black varnishes, soluble drier preparations, motor and other greases.
  • Jane on History of Canning Town East LondonThank you, Ray, that's such a helpful reply - much appreciated.,
  • A.J.Spencer on London’s East End and The BlitzMy grand parents lived in Canning Town during the Blitz and I cannot find any trace of them on any records. I am looking especially pertaining to John William Spencer who lived at 66 Bidder St, Canning town in 1913
  • Ken Shelton on History of Canning Town East LondonHi there, I went to both of the Stratford Grammar Schools - the first one next to West Ham Park was just around the corner from where we lived, on Shirley Rd. I remember there was a tuck shop on the corner. Lots of memories from there - thanks for
  • Elaine Ford on History of Poplar East LondonDoes anyone know of a company called 'Grindleys' ? or similar, was based in Poplar in the 1940's (I believe) and was eventually pulled down. I'm writing a tribute for a gentleman who worked there, he was 99 years old. The family are not sure of the spelling of the

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 175 other subscribers.