‘Museum of London’ is definitely my favourite museum. Hands down. I’ve been coming here before I moved to London, and have been keeping up my visits long after I had made London my home. There’s no place better to soak up the rich history of our fair metropolis. Even their (current) address is very Londoney: 150, London Wall ???I say ‘current’, because the museum is scheduled to move to a new abode in Smithfield in 2024, where they’ll have more space to exhibit the items Museum has in its vaults.
So, what makes this particular place worth your time?
Well, for starters, it is the largest urban history collection in the world, with more than six million objects (…they must be really good with spreadsheets over there).
Furthermore, the history of London is of great consequence, for not only does it massively overlap with the history of England and Britain, but also with that of the English language and the British Empire on the whole… which makes it pretty important in my book. This museum takes you through London’s history step by step, from the Palaeolithic times all the way through to the BLM movement. I’ve been here every year for the past nine years, and it’s never been quite the same. Exhibitions change, as the story of the city changes. Back in 2016 the temporary exhibition space hosted a series of displays dedicated to the 350th anniversary of The Great Fire of London, including the buckets that were used for water during this terrible episode of London’s history. Two years ago the same rooms showcased the Suffragette movement, and I even got to see Emmeline Pankhurst’s hunger strike medal!
The best thing about London - everything moves on, anniversaries come up, situations develop, and new displays are showcased or re-worked, complete with sound effects and visual aides to fully immerse oneself in the new chapter of this Great City’s narrative.
One of my most favourite displays is the model of the Rose Theatre in the Stuart section - as a fan of Shakespeare it makes me very happy to see this, and it’s there to remind the visitors that theatre and entertainment are part of London’s DNA (Also - every time I’m in that room with the Rose Theatre model I feel like filming it with my phone as part of an opening for a movie - similar to what Laurence Olivier did with his ‘Henry V’ - it looks so lifelike!).
If displays with historical objects and description plaques weren’t enough to satisfy the hunger of a history buff, there are two rooms which literally plunge you into the past: The Georgian Pleasure Gardens (currently you can only glance inside *cough* COVID) and the Victorian Walk. The Gardens (see photos) allow you to find yourself in the 18th century, thirsting for tea and wishing for a heavier gown…and some appropriate headgear.… The Victorian Walk whisks you to the 19th century and you are walking the narrow streets, looking at the shop fronts, peeking inside an office, a pub, and even a Victorian gentlemen’s lavatory (think Burlington Arcade, but turn back the clock by about 150 years).
The museum currently works 11:30 - 15:30 on weekdays and 10:00 - 18:00 at the weekend. The entry is free, however, due to COVID, you need to book your space: https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london/whats-on/museum-london-general-admission?id=267808
A £5 donation is encouraged to keep the place running, and there are contactless card readers in place. A gift shop is always making me extra happy with their capital merchandise.
Best bit - a step-free access is enabled throughout the building.
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Hi, I'm Natalie, a History Blogger from Riga, Latvia. My main interest is British Royal History. I'm also greatly enthralled by the history of London. So enthralled, in fact, that I'm training to be a London Blue Badge Guide. I also love travelling around the UK and visit the places that are crucial to the history of the Sceptred Isle. I also absolutely love the history of the English language, and Shakespeare's plays. You can find my musings on natalieisahistorybuff.com or on Instagram as @natalieisahistorybuff and on Twitter @NatHistoryBuff