As many of you are aware, London has a whole plethora of museums and galleries for you to spend your free time in, many of which are free of charge.
The National Gallery, The British Museum, The Museum of London, The Tate Modern; these are some of London’s greatest and will be featured, along with some lesser known ones, later in the year.
Today though, we’ll be discussing the Museums of South Kensington, an affluent part of London, just West of Central, and a great place to spend a lazy Sunday.
Luckily for the discerning traveler, there is a tube station called “South Kensington” and it can be found on the Piccadilly and Circle and District Lines (both of which have few stairs to climb…) but as always when traveling in London, it’s best to check before you travel!. Other stations in the area include Knightsbridge (Piccadilly Line), which has an entrance next to Harrods, and Gloucester Road (Piccadilly, Circle and District Lines).
RANDOM TUBE FACT There used to be a Station called Brompton Road on the Piccadilly Line between Knightsbridge and South Kensington. See if you can spot the old entrance as you walk down towards Harrods from South Kensington Station. CLUE: Think Oxford Circus station.
There are 3 famous museums in South Kensington. The Natural History Museum, The Science Museum, and The Victoria and Albert Museum (known locally as the V&A). All these museums came into being in the Victorian age- the period in British history when Queen Victoria ruled the Empire. She, and her husband Albert, founded something known as The Great Exhibition. It took place in Hyde Park in a fantastic structure known as “The Crystal Palace”, designed by Joseph Paxton and it covered nearly 1 million square feet. Like London’s Millennium Dome (which will be discussed in a later entry), many thought it would be a complete failure, however, unlike the Dome, it was an unprecedented financial success and the proceeds from the exhibition went on to fund the museums we are lucky enough to have today. Many of the educational and cultural attractions in the area (including the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Albert Hall) are there thanks, in part, to Prince Albert- giving the area the nickname “Albertopolis”.
So that’s how the museums came into being; what is each one like and what else can I do in the area?
The easiest way to access the museum from the tube is to take a right as you leave the ticket gates and follow the signs down a tilled passage way. They will lead to the each of the 3 main museums. If you are taking a bus, just as the driver to drop you off at the nearest museum (Numbers 360, 414, 74, 14 and C1 all pass the V&A)
The Science Museum
With over 300,000 items in their collection, the Science museum aims to document human advanced in technology, from lamps to locomotives. Like the Natural History Museum, there are many interactive exhibits and sometimes there are touring exhibitions which provide a lot more detail on a specific area of interest, though these do often include a small fee. The museum has a cafe and restaurant and disabled facilities.
For more information visit: www.sciencemuseum.org.uk
The Natural History Museum
I first visited this museum when I was 9 years old. It was magical. The anamatronic T-Rex amazed me and the earthquake simulator was so much fun (perhaps taking away the point of an earthquake). I remember loving the life-size model of the blue whale and getting upset when my camera ran out of film so I couldn’t take a photograph to show mum and dad.
A decade later I came back, a few things had changed, I’d put on a lot of weight for instance, and the museum had also added a few new exhibits. The dinosaurs still looked awesome and I could appreciate the beauty of the entrance hall so much more. The place does look a little dated in place, but don’t let that put you off. This place is free and a wonderful option to spend a few hours in. Like the Science Museum, there are many interactive displays and there are visiting exhibits which, whilst they carry a cost, can be very interesting.
For more information visit: www.nhm.ac.uk
The Victoria and Albert Museum (The V&A)
For some reason, I found myself never really wanting to go to this museum and for the life of me I can’t think why. All I can say now though is “GO!”. It is a marvellous building devoted to documenting world culutre through items such as ceramic, fashion, art, furniture and jewelery.
The museum has recently benefited from a £150m renovation program, adding to the clean, professional yet approachable approach to the museum.
If you had guests down for the weekend, and you only had time to see one museum, and you were in South Kensington, then this would be the one I recommend. Many would say the other two are greater, for various reasons, but there’s only one way of knowing and that’s by visiting them all yourself! Let us know what you think, comment here, or discuss on Facebook- we’d love to hear what you think!
For more information visit: www.vam.ac.uk
Out and About: South Kensington
There are other attractions in South Kensington apart from the museums. Harrods is always popular for visitors to London and is only a short walk away if you are in the area. There are many other high-end shops to discover and the usual array of chain food stores such as EAT., Pret, and Yo. For something different, why not try a bacon buttie (sandwhich) from the stand in the middle of Thurloe Place, just before Brompton Road, near the V&A- all the taxi drivers eat here! Alternatively, why not pop in to Seasons on Thurloe Street, which do some nice cheap meals such as a ‘full English’ and some fish ‘n’ chips. If you have a bit more money to splash out, why not try some of the recommendations on ViewLondon, such as Cassis, which is owned by an award winning chef. A word of warning, like many restaurants in London, this can be pricey at £30 a meal.
So there you have it. A blog post on the Museums of South Kensington. We hope you’ve found it useful. If you’ve get some pictures of your time around South Kensington then share them! Post them on here or on Facebook!
Image from: here