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  • Writer's pictureallison

History, Hendrix, and Hues: London Museums You Don't Want to Miss

Whether you’re a history buff or a simp for Van Gogh, London has a museum that is sure to occupy your attention for an hour (or three). Not to mention almost all museums are free, so you have no excuse not to check one out.

History Channel fans, it’s your time to shine. This museum is home to some pretty exuberant exhibits covering World War I, World War II, and the Holocaust. Their “Peace and Security: 1945 - 2014” exhibit showcases sporadic conflicts affecting the world, from the Cold War to 9/11.

Facing the Imperial War Museum

A section of the Berlin Wall outside the museum

Established in 1881, this museum will speak to nature lovers and animal lovers alike. With over 80 million items, you can fall down a rabbit hole discovering plants, insects, dinosaurs, animals, and minerals/crystals. Even just standing in the center of the museum is an experience - besides the fact that there is the skeleton of a blue whale hanging from the ceiling, the architecture is beautiful, featuring animal- or plant-like etchings from the tiles to the terracotta sculptures. The Darwin Centre is a new addition to the building, featuring an outdoor display of preserved specimens.

The "Museum of the Moon" exhibit by Luke Jerram

The V&A Museum is the largest museum of decorative and applied arts on Earth, and regrettably I only paid a visit to one exhibit for my British Youth Culture class, featuring Mary Quant. In lecture we touched on her impact on women’s fashion - how she revolutionized the 1960’s trends and pushed societal norms. It was surreal seeing some of her original pieces in person. I Facetimed my grandma to show her a bit of the exhibit, and it seemed to bring back memories from her own upbringing - further emphasizing how influential Quant was not only in British fashion, but in American fashion, too.

The John Madejski Garden, inside a courtyard at the V&A Museum

A mannequin at the Mary Quant exhibit

Ever been curious to see what the home of an iconic musician looks like? Kill two birds with one stone at this unique museum in Mayfair. The walls of 25 Brook Street were first blessed with the sound waves of Handel in 1723, where he lived and composed for 36 years. Fast forward a couple hundred years later, and another gifted tenant moved in - Seattle-native Jimi Hendrix. Step inside one room and you’ll be teleported back to a time of ink-covered quills and opera; venture into the next room and you’ll be looking for the nearest turntable, swearing you can hear Purple Haze playing somewhere.

Jimi Hendrix's bedroom

As the name implies, this museum features some of the most influential modern art from 1900 until today. I’m going to be straight up and say I wish I had a greater appreciation for modern art than I do. This museum could take hours to get through if you’re a true fanatic, and showcases work from Monet to Picasso.

Nympheas by Claude Monet
"Who Owns What?" by Barbara Kruger

There’s something a little chilling about descending into the deserted underground town of Churchill and his fellow allies. You get to walk through the corridors that once housed Britain’s most powerful leaders during a pivotal point in history. From bedrooms to the Cabinet Room to even the kitchen, everything has either been preserved or restored to look how it would back in the late 1940s. There is also a room dedicated solely to Churchill’s life, showing his evolution from child to prime minister.

War Cabinet Room in the Churchill War Rooms Museum

Another historical location-turned-museum, the Clink was a prison in use from the 12th Century until 1780. It not only imprisoned petty criminals, but infamous ones too, including Sir Thomas Wyatt The Younger, John Rogers, and a handful of Puritans (you know, the ones who eventually sailed across the pond to found Plymonth, MA). The real draw to The Clink is the vast information about the various execution tactics employed, and the physical iron torture devices on display alongside it. Not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.

The entrance to The Clink Prison Museum

While the prison was burned to the ground in 1780, the original wall still remains.

Home to 8 million objects, the British Museum takes you back in time to all corners of the world. Established in 1753, it was the first public national museum in history. I was most fascinated by the collection of Ancient Egyptian artifacts and the presence of the Rosetta Stone.

Outside of the British Museum


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