If there's one place to absorb the history of London, from 450,000 BC to the present day, it's here. There are 7,000 objects to wonder at in all, including Oliver Cromwell's death mask, Queen Victoria's crinoline gowns, Selfridges's art-deco elevators, and an original door from the infamous Newgate Prison. The collection devoted to Roman London contains some extraordinary gems, including an astonishingly well-preserved floor mosaic uncovered just a few streets away. (Appropriately enough the museum itself shelters a section of the 2nd- to 4th-century London wall, which you can view through a window.) Permanent displays highlight prehistoric, medieval, and Tudor London. The Galleries of Modern London are equally enthralling: experience the "Expanding City," "People's City," and "World City," each gallery dealing with a section of London's history from 1666 until the 21st century. Innovative interactive displays abound, and there's also a fine schedule of temporary exhibitions. Meanwhile,
locals are waiting with bated breath for the display of an extraordinary hoard of artifacts, including some from the Bronze Age and Roman periods, which were uncovered during the building of the Crossrail Underground railway. Check the website for details about the fantastic Street Museum app, which allows you to hold up your phone in many London streets and be shown pictures of how things looked in the past.