London has a huge variety of museums, many of which rank among the best in the world. And aside from special exhibitions, the majority of larger London museums are free to enter.
In addition to London's famous and in many cases internationally known museums, there are lots of quirky smaller collections, some lovely local museums, and a number of very specialised collections only accessible by appointment. Not all the museums we cover are in Central London, however all but one* are located in Greater London and within London's M25 orbital motorway.
So how many museums are there in London? That depends on how you define a 'museum' (see below), but we would certainly say over 200. At last count there were 214 museums on our complete list of London's museums from A to Z
If you have a special interest, such as the decorative arts or transport, you may prefer to see London's museums grouped by theme
In compiling LondonUpClose's museum pages, we've had to make decisions about what constitutes a museum, as opposed to a gallery, historic house or attraction. Inevitably there is a lot of cross over: for example, art galleries that display a permanent collection have been included both on these pages and also on our Art Galleries & Collections pages.
Basically most properties and institutions which have a permanent collection on display to the public have been classified as museums. Exceptions include interactive attractions such as Madame Tussauds, Ripley's Believe It or Not! and the London Dungeon, which are listed on our London Attractions pages. Palaces and historic properties with distinct and important collections - for example Kenwood House's art collection - have been classified as museums, while other properties can be found in our Palaces & Castles and Historic Houses & Properties pages.
*The Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey, which is located less than a mile beyond the M25.
London Museums opening times
London's museums range from huge national institutions to tiny collections of local and/or specialist interest. Many are open daily, some only on certain days of the week, and in a few cases opening times are limited to once or twice a month, or even just a handful of times per year. Please check the individual museum's website for exact opening information.
Note: unlike in some cities, London does not have a particular day of the week when the majority of museums are closed. Most of the larger museums are open seven days a week. Smaller museums vary with the days that they close. So there's always plenty to see - 364 days a year (to our knowledge all London's museums are closed on Christmas Day).
By appointment only
Most of London's museums are open to drop-in visitors, however some require visitors to book onto a scheduled guided tour, and a few require you to make a special appointment. Don't let this put you off - smaller museums are almost always delighted to receive visitors, and the appointment system is simply to make sure that there is someone on duty at the time you wish to visit. The bit of extra effort required to making an appointment is well worth it, especially as it often allows staff and curators to tailor the visit to your needs/interests.
London Museums entry prices
One of the great things about London is that many of the larger museums, and some of the smaller ones too, offer completely free entry. The British Museum, The Tate Gallery, the V&A, Science and Natural History museums in South Kensington and many more... all completely free to visit!
Of course donations are always appreciated, and you'll find prominent donation boxes at the entrances to many of these museum. But there is no one standing over them, and no pressure at all to give anything if you don't want to/are not able to. Having said that, if you've enjoyed your visit, do give something if you can.
Special exhibitions in London Museums
The British Museum, the V&A and many others put on several major temporary exhibitions a year. These are often described by the press as 'blockbuster exhibitions' and they are not
free. In fact tickets are generally on the expensive side - the British Museum's current exhibition costs £12 for an adult, with only a small reduction for students and seniors. There are often discounts available however, such as 2 for 1 offers, and half price tickets at specific times/on specific days. Check the museum website or London Time Out Magazine for details