International Museum Day Special: Britain’s Best Museums

A visit to Britain would not be complete without a visit to some of our world class museums. These include vast collections of ancient artefacts, wonderfully preserved historical sites, natural history exhibits and an infinite array of institutions dedicated to everything from football to lawnmowers, garden gnomes to witchcraft.

To celebrate International Museum Day, here’s a rundown of our top ten museums in Britain:

  1. British Museum, London
British museum
British museum

This is one of the world’s most famous and controversial museums. Dedicated to human history, art and culture the British Museum has a permanent collection of some 8 million works – you can get lost for days in here! From Egyptian Mummies to Parthenon marbles from the Acropolis of Athens and Easter Island statues, you can travel around the globe as you explore this enormous museum.

  1. Natural History Museum, London

The Natural History Museum is one of the most popular in London. Probably most famous for the iconic diplodocus that dominates the entrance hall, you will also find animatronic dinosaurs, birds, creepy crawlies, gems and meteorites.

  1. The Roman Baths, Bath

Bath - Roman BathsThe Roman Baths at Bath is one of Britain’s best preserved Roman sites one of the most visited with around one million visitors each year. As well as the beautifully preserved ruins of the Great Bath, changing rooms and plunge pools, there is also an interactive museum which will transport you back in time to Roman Britain.

  1. The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

The National Museum of Scotland boasts a weird and wonderful array of exotic artefacts including a hippopotamus suspended from the rafters, a colour television dating from 1937 and an exotic bird stuffed by Charles Darwin. The wide ranging collection represents the diversity of thought and activity that came out of the Scottish Enlightenment.

  1. Churchill War Rooms, London

Hidden in the basement of a building in between Buckingham Palace and Westminster you will find Winston Churchill’s WW2 bunker and museum. Here you can walk in the footsteps of Churchill and glimpse what life would have been like during the tense days and nights of WW2. This bunker has been perfectly preserved exactly as it was left on the day the lights were switched off in 1945.

  1. Kelingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

This Glasgow art gallery and museum is one of Scotland’s most popular attractions and features 22 themed galleries which include natural history, arms and armour, art, history and more. The most famous painting on display is the Salvador Dali masterpiece ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’ and other popular attractions include Sir Roger the Asian elephant and a real life Spitfire!

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  1. Beamish – The Living Museum of the North

This is a living, working museum set in 300 acres of picturesque Durham countryside where you can experience the Industrial Revolution first hand. The museum also plays hosts to a vast program of events throughout the year including the Georgian Fair, Classic Car Day, Harvest Festival and much, much more!

  1. Big Pit National Coal Museum, Wales

Okay, so a coal museum probably doesn’t really sound that exciting but the Big Pit is much more stimulating than it sounds. The former coal mine has been operating as a museum where you will descend into the earth for an underground tour and a walk through the mine’s tunnels.

  1. Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford

The world’s first university museum, The Ashmolean was founded in 1683 and now houses a world famous and extraordinarily diverse collection that ranges from Egyption mummies to contemporary art. Here you’ll find the world’s greatest collection of Raphael drawings, incredible Anglo-Saxon treasures and a collection of modern Chinese painting that is unrivalled throughout the Western world.

  1. National Football Museum, Manchester

National Football Museum, ManchesterAnd now for something completely different, the world’s largest museum dedicated purely to football (or soccer, if you prefer). The museum contains a fantastic mixture of stats, memorabilia and fun stuff including a radio commentary collection, the chance to lift a (virtual) trophy and plenty of interactive games!

 

Why not visit some of these fantastic museums on a road trip with adeo Travel. Try our Great Britain self-drive tour or even Great Britain by Rail.

Great Expectations of the Dickens Museum!

Whilst mulling over the purchase of some Christmas presents this week I was first told that “procrastination is the thief of time” and then, when I opted for a cheap item, that I was a “Scrooge”!  I was slightly insulted by the comments but then realised that they were actually both quotes from Dickens novels.  Like Shakespeare, Dickens’ works and characters seem to have pervaded our lives and language, much of the time without us realising.  That’s when I added a visit to the newly reopened Charles Dickens Museum in London to my Christmas list.

Dickens Museum Library, London
Dickens Museum Library, London

In 2012 England celebrated the 200th anniversary of his birth and what better a finale of this bicentenary than the re-opening of the Charles Dickens Museum on Monday after its massive £3.1 million investment.  Located in the writer’s former family home in Bloomsbury central London, the museum has been welcoming visitors since 1925, but was struggling to keep up with the through flow.  Following this lottery funded investment the Victorian town house located at 48 Doughty Street has been completely restored to its former glory whilst the neighbouring house has also undergone extensive conversion to house a brand new visitor centre, learning centre and cafe.  The aim is to secure the sites for future generations and provide a visitor experience for the 21st century.

Westminster Abbey, London
Westminster Abbey, London

And it seems to be achieving its aims; the upgraded museum now offers visitors the opportunity to step back in time and walk around the immaculate Grade II listed building  which is completely furnished and decorated as Dickens himself would have known it.  The location where he penned some of his most famous works, including Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby, the house is bustling with memorabilia including a range of documents, photographs, manuscripts and the writing desk which he designed himself.  Guests can also experience the family kitchen, drawing room and the newly opened attic room which now houses a range of personal materials detailing his troubled childhood.  And once you’re finished at the museum you may want to pop over to Westminster Abbey to visit his final resting place in the Poets Corner.

So this Christmas, after I have revisited the familiar story of “A Christmas Carol” once again, it will be with great expectation that I open my Christmas presents in the hope that someone will have given me an admission ticket for the museum.  And if they haven’t?  Bah humbug!