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Best museums in London

Best museums in London: Frommer's picks for the best of art, history and culture.
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Money-Saving Passes

If you're coming to London to pubcrawl, forget doing it cheaply; but if you plan to visit a lot of museums, you can save money with the London GoSee Card. It's valid for admission to many of London's major attractions, including Apsley House, Barbican Art Gallery, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, and the Design Museum, plus a lot more. Validity ranges from 3 to 7 days. An adult 3-day card costs £16 ($26), and a 7-day card goes for £26 ($42). Families of two adults and up to four children can purchase a 3-day card for £32 ($51) or a 7-day card for £50 ($80). Cards are sold at British tourist information centers, London Transport centers, airports, and various attractions. For more details, call tel. 800/223-6108 in the U.S. or tel. 020/8995-4007 in the U.K., or try the website

The London Pass provides admission to 60 attractions in and around London, £5 worth of phone calls, "timed" admission at some attractions (bypassing the queues), plus free travel on public transport (buses, Tubes, and trains) and a pocket guidebook. It costs £26 ($42) for 1 day, £58 ($93) for 3 days, or £91 ($146) for 6 days (children pay £16/$26, £37/$59, or £50/$80) and includes admission to St. Paul's Cathedral, HMS Belfast, the Jewish Museum, and the Thames Barrier Visitor Centre -- and many other attractions. Visit the website at or call tel. 870/242-9988. Tip: Purchase the pass before you go because passes purchased in London do not include free transportation.

Best Museums

British Museum, Great Russell Street, WC1 (tel. 020/7323-8299): When Sir Hans Sloane died in 1753, he bequeathed to England his vast collection of art and antiquities. This formed the nucleus of a huge collection that came to include such remarkable objects as the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon sculptures (which Greece wants back).

, Trafalgar Square, WC2 (tel. 020/7747-2885): One of the world's greatest collections of Western art -- from Leonardo da Vinci to Rembrandt to Picasso -- dazzles the eye at this museum. The gallery is especially rich in Renaissance works.

Tate Britain, Millbank, SW1 (tel. 020/7887-8000): Sir Henry Tate, a sugar producer, started it all with 70 or so paintings. The collection grew considerably when artist J. M. W. Turner bequeathed some 300 paintings and 19,000 watercolors to England upon his death. Having handed International Modernism over to the new Tate Modern, the Tate Britain now concentrates on British work dating back to 1500.

Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7 (tel. 020/7942-2000): This is the greatest decorative arts museum in the world, boasting the largest collection of Renaissance sculpture outside Italy. It is also strong on medieval English treasures and possesses the greatest collection of Indian art outside India.

Gilbert Collection, Somerset House, The Strand, WC2 (tel. 020/7240/9400): This is the permanent home of the Gilbert Collection of decorative arts, one of the most important bequests ever left to the state. The exhibition of some 800 objects in gold, silver, mosaics, and gold snuffboxes -- collected by Sir Arthur Gilbert -- is hailed as one of the greatest in the world, its silver collection rivaling that of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Science Museum, Exhibition Road, SW7 (tel. 0870/870-4868): The collection here of scientific artifacts is among the largest, most significant, and most comprehensive in the world. Everything is here, from King George III's collection of scientific instruments in the 18th century to the Apollo 10 space module.

For a complete listing of what to see and do in London, visit the online attractions index at

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