See Age-nets picks for the Top 10 Museums to Visit for Free in the UK
There are lots of free museums in the UK which are either government funded or are run based on voluntary donations. Contrary to popular belief, the quality of the museum is not reflected in the price, and the free museums up and down the UK are some of the best on offer.
Big Pit National Coal Museum, Torfaen
This museum is located at a real coal mine and is the leading mine museum in the UK. It is an exciting way to explore an industry and working conditions which will be completely alien to most of us. It is a fascinating, informative and extremely interactive day out. Underground tours of the mines complete the whole experience as you really get a chance to experience what life is like as a miner. Wheelchair users will need to book in advance for the underground tours, but there is no cost involved in doing this.
Coventry Transport Museum, Coventry
This museum tells the story of transport through the ages. It has everything from retro red London buses to formula 1 exhibits. There is loads to see and even if you don’t think that you are a car enthusiast you can still be guaranteed to find something to interest you. It’s a great way of looking back at how transport has evolved in such a short space of human history and to look back with nostalgia at what cars and buses used to look like in the good old days.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield
The Sculpture Park is a lovely place to stroll around. Try to visit on a nice sunny day to make the most of the outdoor section which is full of delights. Whether or not you are a fan of sculpture, the sheer variety of the pieces on display will mean that you are bound to find something which really appeals to you. You will also undoubtedly see some rather bizarre sculptures but this just adds to the overall experience. There is quite a bit of walking, but there are benches dotted throughout the park where you can take a rest if necessary.
Blaise Castle House Museum, Bristol
This fascinating museum will take you on a trip through time, showing you how people’s lifestyles have changed over the years, how household chores have evolved and even the kinds of toys that children used to play with. Discover how cooking, cleaning and washing have been made easier over the last 300 years by a whole host of incredible contraptions on display. The Victorian School Room will transport you back to a 19th century classroom to see how learning has changed over the years.
British Museum, London
When it comes to variety, the British Museum has got to be one of the best museums in the country. With exhibits from all over the world and from periods all through history, a visit to the British Museum is like taking a trip back in time and around the world all at once. You can get completely lost in room after room of history and culture told through objects and exhibits. Definitely set aside a whole day to fully explore the museum. There are also free tours of certain exhibits on offer, where expert volunteer guides will talk you through the meaning of different objects and really help bring them to life.
Imperial War Museum, London
It can get quite busy, especially on rainy days, so in order to get the best view of the exhibits and displays it is probably best to go earlier rather than later. There is a huge amount of information displayed about a wide range of 20th century conflicts and there is almost too much to take in on a single trip. The Holocaust exhibition is extremely moving, but does contain some graphic images and information so is probably not appropriate if you plan to take young children with you. The aeroplanes suspended from the roof are spectacular and definitely a highlight.
Bank of England Museum, London
If you don’t have much time then the Bank of England Museum is a good option as it is not as large or extensive as most of the other museums in London. It is still really interesting and features exhibits which calculate how much quantities of money from years ago would be worth today when taking inflation into consideration. You can also have the chance to lift up a gold bar to see how heavy it is. The museum also, perhaps most importantly, explains the history of the Bank of England as an institution and follows its journey from foundation in 1694 to the role it plays in the economy today.
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is one of the most famous in London, and with good reason. It is home to the famous life–size model of the gigantic blue whale and a huge range of replica skeletons in the Dinosaurs Gallery. You will be able to enjoy looking at stuffed examples of some of the most interesting animals on the planet and explore interactive displays to learn all about our solar system and the Earth’s place in the universe. You can easily spend an entire day wandering through the vast halls of the Natural History Museum and will discover facts which you would never have believed could possibly be true.
Tate Modern, London
The Tate Modern will always have something to surprise you. As well as being home to such an extensive collection of impressive masterpieces and some of the most innovative and ground-breaking pieces of art from the last century, it also houses some of the most wonderfully weird exhibitions in contemporary art. On one trip you may be faced with a brick wall or a plain grey canvas, on another you could be confronted with an unmade bed or a tin of human excrement. You literally never know what will be waiting behind those doors so be prepared to be impressed and shocked in equal measure.
V&A Museum of Childhood, London
Everyone has heard of the Victoria and Albert Museum, but its sister museum, the V&A Museum of Childhood, is often overlooked. This is a shame because it is home to some of the most intricate toys dating back to the 17th Century. The dolls houses are beautiful and will be the envy of girls of all ages. A visit to the V&A Museum of Childhood is a wonderfully nostalgic experience. You will be able to see the oldest surviving example of a rocking horse and will also be reunited with some of your own childhood favourites, as exhibits include toys from periods of time right up to the present day.