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seetheworld May 26th, 2006 06:21 PM

London Museums...If you had to pick only one to visit...
which one would it be?

We have limited time in London. We both enjoy art, science, and natural history (although my husband really enjoys history, I do not).

Any suggestions? Also, are there any "free" days (as there are in the states)?

Thank you. :)

obxgirl May 26th, 2006 06:28 PM

How about a trifecta in the Natural History, Science and Victoria & Albert museums? All three are co-located within a short distance of the South Kensington tube?

Admission is free to all but donations always appreciated.

jody May 26th, 2006 06:31 PM

My DH would say the Imperial War museum but my choice would be the Museum of London at Barbican... either one would provide art , history and science.

I will say one of my favorite paintings is at IWM but for all around overview..go for London Museum

As an aside..I would hate to have limited time in London!!

bookchick May 26th, 2006 06:32 PM

Excellent suggestion, obxgirl! I spent almost an entire day in the Victoria & Albert museum, and it's true that you just put whatever you feel you can donate into the large lucite container inside, and just head in...marvelous!


janisj May 26th, 2006 06:35 PM

Probably the V&A (but there are soooooo many great ones it is a hard choice) All the decorative arts, plus the awesome Raphael Cartoons, etc.

The British is AMAZING but can be totally overwhelming. The Bldg itself and the wonderful Great Court is worth a visit even if not for all the collections.

Since almost all the museums and galleries are free you can make several short visits to the V&A, British, National Gallery, etc. etc.

seetheworld May 26th, 2006 06:44 PM

I did not realize that the British museums were free -- how lovely. Although we would certainly contribute a donation.

Yes, according to my map, the "trifecta" would be convenient and walkable?

I would love to visit the Great Court and Reading Room. Are there cafes located in this area?

Thanks, you are all great!

janisj May 26th, 2006 06:46 PM

Yes - there are cafes and a very good restaurant in various parts/levels of the Great Court.

Catbert May 26th, 2006 06:53 PM

I think the trifecta idea is a great one. They are very close to eachother. And even if you don't like history, you MUST walk into the Museum of Natural History. The building is so beautiful. I love the marble staircases.

Pammyjo May 26th, 2006 06:57 PM

The National Gallery. I have made two trips to London just to BE THERE! It is truly my favorite.

eliza3 May 26th, 2006 07:42 PM

If I had limited time I would do either the British Museum or several of the others as suggested. The BM can be overwhelming but is just wonderful. Also agree re Museum of London - very accessible and doesn't seem to attract many crowds.

seetheworld May 27th, 2006 03:49 PM

Since the Natural History, Science, and V&A museums are all closely situated, we will head there for a bit. Any recommendations for lunch or dinner in the area?

What can you recommend near the British Museum?

And is there a "better" time to visit - morning or afternoon?

Thanks for your help!

amaclise May 27th, 2006 03:57 PM

There are numerous delightful dining spots around the South Kensington tube station area, near your "trifecta" with which I wholeheartedly agree!!!

Have to say the Museum of London is great too!

janisj May 27th, 2006 04:03 PM

I would eat linch IN the V&A and IN the British Museum. Both have nice restaurants so you don't have to leave to find something.

The British M has several places to eat - but the nicest is The Court Restaurant at the top of the Great Court.

seetheworld May 27th, 2006 04:53 PM

Thank you for the response janisj and amaclise.

The BM's restaurant website looks very nice. I just wanted to be sure since many of the museums I have been to only offer cafeteria style service. If we end up eating in the museusm, I wanted something a little nicer. :)

I will also do a search in the Kensington station area.

jody May 27th, 2006 05:31 PM

For dining near your trifecta...for casual at lunch try Cafe Montepeliano, across and down a bit from Harrods ..for dinner but a bit more expensive try Montepeliano on Montpelier St or St Quentin

bob_brown May 27th, 2006 08:10 PM

Only one? Aargh. What a decision. I don't think I could make a rational choice. I think I would write the names on pieces of paper, throw them in a hat, and draw out one.

How about two little ones instead!

I think an individual's interests have to play a role in the decision. The choice is not simple, and I think you are almost trying to split the unsplitable hair. That is why I say just pick one.

I think the decision is similar to that of saying which play should I see? How can one make a rational decision?

If you regard the Tower of London as a museum, the choice gets even more complex.

I think if push came to shove with me, I would say the British Museum because nowhere else can you see the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles. That said, there is uniqueness everywhere you turn.

Get the hat!

cw May 27th, 2006 08:40 PM

London has so many wonderful museums. The Imperial War Museum and the National Portrait Gallery are two of my favorites.

But, if I could only choose one . . . it would be the British Museum. I agree with Bob Brown.

We had a lovely lunch there at the open terrace above the reading room.


Joe18 May 27th, 2006 09:02 PM

While it sounds as though you may have already decided, I'll add another suggestion. I always try to start a London visit by going to the National Portrait Gallery. It's good art and good history--portraits of royals and notables from the Tudors to QEII. Then I go to the Cafe in the Crypt at St. Martins in the Fields (directly across the street for lunch), then around the corner to the National Gallery. Both NPG and NG are free, and the latter has a great collection. I'm especially fond of the early Italian Renaissance paintings in the Sainsbury Wing of the NG, designed by Philadelphia architect Robert Venture.

amaclise May 28th, 2006 06:40 AM

Joe, I thought of the Nat'l Portrait Gallery too (My Fav!!) but the mention that only her husband likes history stopped me. It's hard to know who all those portraits are of if you don't like history. Their love of science and natural history also made trhe trifecta seem right. Tough choice as Trafalgar Square is a great area!

ilovetotravel29 May 28th, 2006 07:35 AM

I would say to visit the Victoria and Albert has one of the best collections of art and artifacts I have ever seen!

obxgirl May 28th, 2006 01:49 PM

Regarding restaurants near the British Museum:

A couple of city blocks away, just beyond the Goodge St. tube station you'll find Charlotte Street which is home to a number of really good and moderately priced restaurants, thai, tapas, indian, and italian.

wondering May 28th, 2006 02:50 PM

Not sure if you have decided...but...I think you should decide wheteher you want art or history. If you have been to many art museums, I would think very carefully about the British Museum because it houses some of the most important antiquities of the world. The magnitude of the "big draw" items is mind boggling. Imagine seeing the Rosetta Stone and more of the Parthenon than Athens has, the Standard of Ur, and scores of other items that have no business being in one place at one time! There are so many wonderful art museums throughout the world, but truly only one Museum like this!

SMNOVELLA May 28th, 2006 03:16 PM

I would definitely head for the Tate Modern.

semiramis May 28th, 2006 04:09 PM

Time for one museum only - The British Museum - absolutely one of the best in the world. As others have said there are some truly unique and amazing things there.

virginiafish May 28th, 2006 05:26 PM

Bristish Museum or Cabinet War Rooms.

lucy_d May 28th, 2006 05:34 PM

I'll agree with the previous posters who suggest the Cabinet War Rooms. Even if you do not particulary enjoy history, you will be absolutely fascinated, I promise! I once "forced" three sixteen year old girls, who wanted to shop, to go there with me, and they thanked me afterwards. If you choose not to go, definitely send your husband.

Underhill May 28th, 2006 07:15 PM

Since we're well beyond just one, I'll add my three shillings' worth and go for the British Museum, the Tate (the original--for the Blakes, the Pre-Raphaelites, and the huge apocalyptic canvases by John Martin), and the V&A.

seetheworld May 28th, 2006 07:26 PM

LOL, very difficult to pick just one! :) Too many to enjoy, so little time to do it in.

I think I need more than a hat, about "Eenie, meenie, minie, mo"? :D

I have decided that a visit to the British Museum is a must! Afterall, it contains <i>&quot;one of the greatest collections of human cultural history&quot;</i>. I must sit and contemplate in the Reading Room ~ to think that Karl Marx completed much of his research and writing in that room -- exciting!

The trifecta is still under consideration -- or maybe just the V&amp;A and Museum of Natural History...

Arrgh! :D

annettetx May 28th, 2006 08:18 PM

I don't think I can add anything to the debate on which museum to see -- it is definitely a painful decision!
But, if the trifecta wins, I'd suggest a meal at &quot;Daquise,&quot; which is a Polish restaurant on Thurloe St -- very convenient to the V&amp;A. We eat there everytime we go to London -- the potato pancakes are sinfully good!

Carolina May 30th, 2006 11:59 PM

The British Museum


Keith May 31st, 2006 07:19 AM

#1 Tower of London

#2 British Museum


seetheworld May 31st, 2006 05:07 PM

Luckily we have been to the Tower of London, so we can pass this time (although I'm sure we didn't see all there is to see). :)

travelgirl2 May 31st, 2006 05:16 PM

British Museum. Cabinet War Rooms.

I may be in the minority, but I didn't really get a thrill out of the Victoria and Albert.

Gardyloo May 31st, 2006 05:18 PM

V &amp; A, no contest.

Keith May 31st, 2006 06:14 PM

I'm in you minority, travelgirl2. Ot was OK, but not worth giving up all the other great things in London.


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