London has a reputation for being expensive, which in some ways is deserved. Eating out and buying drinks, for example, is certainly more expensive in the capital than it is in other places in the United Kingdom, and even nationwide chain stores may hike their prices up for London customers. It might be surprising to find out, then, that many of its cultural institutions are completely free to enter, including some of those which count among the most famous and cherished in the world. Entrance to special exhibitions is often ticketed, and donations are asked for but by no means expected, but general admission to many museums and galleries remains free of charge – for now. This tends to come and go on a cyclical basis, so make the most of it while you can and check out the following free family days out in London.
Near the top of everyone’s list should be the British Museum. Internationally renowned as one of the world’s greatest museums, this is a truly incredible collection of artifacts and exhibits dedicated to human history, art and culture. Items housed here include the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles, an Easter Island statue, and several Egyptian mummies. Kids and adults alike will be entranced by the size and variety of the incredible collection here. The same goes for the Natural History Museum, which is a one of a kind, purpose built ‘cathedral to nature’. From the tiny carved animals which scale its vast pillars to ‘Dippy’, the gigantic scale cast of a diplodocus skeleton which occupies the main hall, the Natural History Museum is sheer magic, and near to unrivalled in the world for the scale and variety of its collections. Both the British Museum and Natural History Museum are free to enter, with ticketed special exhibitions which rotate. Both are easily accessible from Montcalm City Suites , with all three situated in central London.
If the Natural History Museum has whetted you and your kids’ appetites for the natural world, head to the Grant Museum of Zoology. This is much smaller than the Natural History Museum, making it great for a quick visit as an add-on to something else, perhaps at the end of your day. It’s no less atmospheric, though, and the collection of cabinets, jars and skeletons which line the walls here will make you think you’ve walked into a mad scientist’s laboratory. There are some rare items among them, too, including the skeleton of a now-extinct species of sea cow, an egg from the vast, ancient (and also extinct) elephant bird, and a mammoth tusk which dates back over 12,000 years. The Science Museum is another free institution which is great for kids too, with specially designed and highly interactive galleries and exhibitions which allow children to learn about the scientific world through play. These exhibits are divided according to age group, with The Garden and Pattern Pod specifically designed for younger kids and the Antenna and Energy Galleries and the IMAX Cinema great for older kids and teenagers.