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What's your favorite London museum...and why?

What's your favorite London museum...and why?

Mar 31st, 2005, 08:13 AM
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What's your favorite London museum...and why?

First-person Fodors is always helpful (and typically turns up unexpected insights), so weigh in, won't you?
tuckerdc is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 08:23 AM
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If I have to pick one:
The National Gallery- it is a relatively small museum (as national museums go) with a breathtaking range of art, including samples of everything from Leonardo to Impressionists, and more.

If I get to mention others:
Courtauld Institute
V & A, for the sheer breadth of its collections on decorative arts, but one really has to focus a visit on one gallery or collection
National Portrait Gallery
Royal Academy--for special exhibits
elaine is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 08:23 AM
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My favorite is the Cabinet War Rooms - but only because I am Churchill nut. I also love the British Museum. It's a classic. Most especially the King's Library and the Egyptian antiquties.
wanderlust5 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 08:24 AM
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The [email protected], you could easily spend a day there and it's free!!
cambe is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 08:27 AM
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The Imperial War Museum. Highlights when I was there: the Blitz experience, life in the trenches, the house from the PBS series '1940's House' and a chilling Holocaust exhibit.
mhdavidson is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 08:33 AM
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The British Museum, becuase of its extraordinary Egyptian collection.

Regards Ger
OReilly is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 08:35 AM
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The Tate Modern.
michelleNYC is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 08:36 AM
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Agree with Elaine, National Gallery, followed by Tate Modern. Love the architecture and quirkiness of modern art.
LVSue is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 08:40 AM
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mhdavidson: Oh, I'm with you on the Imperial War Museum! That film of the liberation of Dachau (? I think that was the camp - if mem'ry serves) stays with me still.

Trying to pick which museum to delve into, on a short visit, seems daunting. So for me, it's helpful to see just what turns others on. I feel like a..."cultural travesty"...to admit that (what I've read about) the British Museum just doesn't turn me on (sounds like a mega-mega-mega version of Chicago's Field Museum). The V&A captures my interest, partly because of an oh-so-enthusiastic comment by a friend years ago, but also because I think it's just 'up my alley.'

We saw a fair bit of European art at the D'orsay and in Amsterdam a couple years ago (and visits to Chicago's Art Institute and the Met, of course), but maybe I'll move The National Gallery up on our list.

Look forward to seeing more personal favorites...
tuckerdc is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 08:54 AM
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The Tate. To see the Turners.
quinn1 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 09:21 AM
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Do people really have favourite museums? Anyone who enjoys what museums do must find their enthusiasms for any one place waxing and waning.

But to try to counter tuckerdc's unfortunate (but very understandable)prejudices against the BM:

It's preposterously overpowering, and the thousands of people milling round (pretty much 360-odd days a year) don't help.

But IMHO two things do:
1. Another vote for the King's Library. It's a museum of the 18th century passion for finding EVERYTHING out. You get a sudden glimpse of a society where people really did think they could understand absolutely every last thing about how the world is as it is. It encapsulates what learning was about before it got industrialised and in many ways teaches you more about the world than the rolling acres of the rest of the museum. It's the perfect antidote to the gigantism of the rest of the place, except for:

2. The Egypto-Roman funerary paintings (galleries 64-65 on the upper floor). 2,000 years old and they look as if they were painted yesterday. The very earliest paintings anywhere of people you could imagine sitting next to on a plane (or, more precisely, of members of the opposite sex you wish you were sitting next to on a plane, because either these were all fine lookers or the artist wasn't paid to show warts). This isn't the ancient history of obscure godesses and kings with incomprehensible names. These people would be showing you their children's portraits, moaning about the price of papyrus or worrying about what Caesar's latest folly would do for inflation. Oh, and while I'm on:

3. The postcards home from the Roman soldiers on Hadrian's wall (gallery 49 on the upper floor).
flanneruk is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 09:26 AM
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Cabinet War Rooms
Courtauld Institute
Imperial War Museum
National Portrait Gallery
Museum of London
rickmav is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 09:49 AM
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Flanner: I love your enthusiasm and details about the British Museum.

Elaine: The Royal Academy isn't even in my Steves book, but a visit to the website has me very interested.

Rick May: I'm with you on three out of five. Past visits have taken us to the War Rooms, the Imperial War Museum and the Museum of London. The Courtauld's impressionists already merited some major highlighting in the guide book - what about the Hermitage collection?

So now, there's at least four on my short list...and us with just 4 days! Glad there are Friday nite hours at several.
tuckerdc is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 09:56 AM
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I *love* the National Gallery. As mentioned above, it has a great range of different works. It should still be free (unless something has changed since I was last there) and can be a peaceful retreat from busy London. =) Have fun! -- Heather.
hlocke1 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 12:09 PM
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I love the Wallace Collection - it just feels good!

Another favorite is the Queens Gallery. Museum of London is also great. And so is the British Museum, the National Gallery, the Tate and the National Portrait Gallery. Oh, and the Cabinet War Rooms and the Imperial War Museum, too. And the British Library, Dicken's House Museum, Handel House Museum, Sir John Soanes and Dennis Sever House.

As you can see, I'm having a difficult time narrowing it down.
Kayb95 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 12:36 PM
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I can't say that I have a 'favorite' museum, but I do find my self returning to the National Portrait.
I also return to the Museum, of London every couple of years.
If you're looking for a museum on a smaller scale, try the British Library's permanent collection of original manuscripts and music such as: Shakespeare's First Folio, Alice in Wonderland, the Sherborne Missal , and Beatles lyrics.
The Geffrye Museum has of examples of English interior decorating from the last 4 centuries.
Sir John Soames Museum is just full of interesting stuff! There are drawings and bits & pieces of architectural salvage, and manuscripts, and more.
The Silver Vaults are fun to stroll through on a second or third visit to London.. I never saw that much silver in one place before.
starspinners is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 12:44 PM
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I should proof read before I hit the post button...please forgive my typos in my previous message.
starspinners is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 12:44 PM
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That's almost like asking which is your favorite child. I've probably been to 25 or more museums in London and most are very good, some truly extraordinary. I return to the special ones over and over. You find something new each visit.

Which one is best really depends what I'm looking for that day and my mood.

All of the museums/galleries already mentioned are definitely worth a visit - but there are scores more also "worth" it. The Geffrye and Sir John Soanes are small but special, while the V&A and British are huge and special.

The Imperial War, both Tates, Nat'l and Nat'l Portrait, Cabinet War Rooms, Wallace Collection, Museum of London and on and on -- heck, even the London Transport Museum is fun/interesting.
janis is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 12:50 PM
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Oh, yes, I forgot about Sir John Soane's. I love that one, too. Quick and easy to get through, but full of interesting things to look at and enjoy. =)
hlocke1 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 01:03 PM
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The Museum of London. I love history, and the Victoria and Albert, but at the MofL it is presented in a chronological context that is very user-friendly. And I love those excavated walls of the old city just outside its windows.
kswl is offline  

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