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Robert_Brandywine Feb 11th, 2006 11:13 AM

London Museums
Would somebody take a minute to explain to me the difference in exhibitions in the National Gallery, the Tate Britannia, and the Victoria and Albert Museums?



jules4je7 Feb 11th, 2006 11:24 AM

I've been to the National Gallery, and the British Museum, and both are outstanding. The National Gallery has a lot of Impressionist and other paintings (I loved the van Gogh's in there), and is more along the lines of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. The British Museum has more ancient works and sculptures -- including The Rosetta Stone and a bunch of sculptures culled/stolen/liberated from a number of ancient civilizations.

I haven't been to the Tate or the Victoria & Albert Museum, but my understanding of the V&A is it's more a period museum of the Victorian times. Someone else can and probably will, straighten me out on that. ;)

I strongly suggest going to The British Library, which isn't far from The British Museum. The Library has a special documents room that is filled with documents and archives of famous works that will give you goosebumps -- from the original works of Shakespeare, The Magna Carta, Guttenberg Bibles, and the stamps from The Stamp Act which sparked The American Revolution. There's also the scrap paper/bar napkins that John Lennon wrote "Ticket To Ride" and other Beatles songs.

And it's free.

Happy travels,


P_M Feb 11th, 2006 11:28 AM

I am ashamed to tell you that in all of my visits to London, I've always missed the National Gallery. But that's about to change in April. I have been to the British Museum but I didn't know about the British Library. I'll try to work that into my plans in April. So much to do in London....will there ever be time to see it all?

flanneruk Feb 11th, 2006 11:42 AM

The National Gallery is Britain's major gallery of Western painting. This includes virtually no British paintings: it's exceptionally rich in paintings from the renaissance.

Tate Britain is Britain's major gallery of British painting. It's especially rich in Turner. It's managed by the same team who manage Tate Modern, Britain's major gallery of art dating from the late 19th century.

The V+A is Britain's major gallery of arts and crafts. It contains few paintings, but lots of outstanding minor sculpture, serious craftwork (like medieval altarpieces and other aretefacts, especially from places we once ruled) and excellent textiles/clothing history collections.

Like the British Museum, the National Gallery and the V+A would be in most people's list of the world's 10 best museum collections. British art experts weren't that excited about impressionism and after - and had more competitors when it came to acquiring them. So Tate Modern, while a remarkable building, has a pretty so-so collection - arguably not as good as similar art galleries elsewhere. Tate Britain is without doubt (Yale notwithstanding) the best collection of British painting anywhere - but that might not necessarily impress everyone.

All London's major museums remain free.

Robert_Brandywine Feb 11th, 2006 11:51 AM

Thanks! I've been to the British Museum (I love antiquities.). It sounds like I'll enjoy all 3 of these others. I've added them to my list of things to do!


Judyrem Feb 11th, 2006 01:43 PM

PLease try to visit the Museum of London...we were just there and I positively loved it!! We wanted to do other less know museums and this was a delight! One of my faves! The Victorian street replica was fabulous. Loved the Tate Britian too..with the mganificent Turners. We also did the Tate Modern and while I like the building and some of the art,,, a lot of displays were nonsensical eg performance art etc. The National Gallery is a world treasure and I love it. We spent another whole day the the world's best museum...the British Museum for the 4th time. LOndon is a truly blessed city!

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