Plenty to tell
Have you ever wanted to know more about the Great Fire of London? Wondered what life was like in Londinium in 200 AD? Here’s the place to find out. Often overlooked, the Museum of London makes for a fascinating trip. It traces the history of the city from prehistoric times right up to the modern period, focusing on its social and cultural development. Part of the striking Barbican complex, the museum is located just north of St. Paul’s Cathedral and is fittingly perched on the edge of the most ancient part of London, overlooking the ruins of the old Roman walls.
It was founded in 1976 when what was then the London Museum, which had been created in 1912, joined forces with the older Guildhall Museum, founded in 1826. The Guildhall Museum was a predominantly archaeological collection, displaying artefacts found throughout the city, while the London Museum had wider ambitions. In telling the story of the city, the museum was interested in everything from documents and artefacts to clothes and artworks, so that the fullest picture of London’s changing nature could be gained for each era. Today, the Museum of London still follows this wide-ranging approach to social history.
A trip through time
The galleries of the museum are laid out so that visitors take a chronological route through the different exhibits, really experiencing the city of London from its beginnings up to the contemporary era - there is also a free guided tour.
There are many engaging interactive displays amongst all the relics, and a £20 million redevelopment in 2010 added four new galleries, including a reconstruction of Georgian pleasure gardens and an art deco lift from Selfridges department store. Everything that has made London what it is today is covered, from its time as a Roman capital to its modern role as a centre for music and fashion - even the most seasoned expert is bound to learn something new. Did we mention it's completely free?