Museum of London

Museum of London

Discover the history of London at the Museum of London

Journey back through time at the Museum of London and explore the history of the capital from prehistoric times to the global metropolis of today.

Highlights

  • Discover the city’s prehistoric origins in the “London before London” gallery.
  • Learn how the Black Death and the Great Fire shaped modern London.
  • Explore a reconstructed Victorian street.

What to see and do

Learn about London before the city was there

Delve deep into prehistory as you explore the “London before London” gallery. Learn about a time when prehistoric animals such as aurochs, mammoths and lions prowled the land. Follow the timeline of London’s distant past as you explore the wealth of archaeological finds left by early settlers, dating from the Palaeolithic to the Iron Age.

Discover London in Roman times

Highly detailed models show the complexity of the ancient city that developed after the Roman invasion. Children can explore a reconstruction of a dwelling of the period. A treasure trove of Roman artefacts is always on display, from jewellery and coins to hairpins, weapons and pots and pans.

Learn about the Black Death and the Great Fire of London

Explore the tumultuous events Londoners experienced during the Medieval period. Family-friendly interactive displays and exhibits explain how the Black Death and the Great Fire of London influenced the development of the modern capital while videos bring the sights and sounds of the period to life.

Londoners at leisure

Find out how Londoners enjoyed their leisure moments in a reconstruction of an 18th-century pleasure garden where they could enjoy the latest drinks such as coffee and tea. Original costumes bring the period to life.

Stroll down a Victorian street in the Modern London galleries. 

This part of the museum explores the city’s history up to the present day. Learn about the decline of the manufacturing industry within the city and cultural phenomena such as the Punk Movement in the permanent exhibitions. Not to be missed is the Lord Mayor of London’s golden coach.

Did you know: (5 interesting facts!) 

  1. The London Museum is home to the Centre for Human Bioarchaeology, where scientists can understand more about the lives of past Londoners by studying a collection of over 10,000 skeletons. You can book evening courses such as “Bare Bones” to learn more about this fascinating subject.
  2. The Museum of London consists of not just one but three museums. The main museum is located at the Barbican. The family-friendly exhibits at the Docklands Museum give you the chance to explore the history of London’s docks and how they influenced trade and transport. The Museum of London Archaeology is the third part. This is an outreach organisation that is involved with archaeological digs across the UK.
  3. To mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, an event that literally shaped the modern city, the museum established a permanent website. This allows you to explore the timeline of the fire as it raged across the city for four days. The museum also offers a physical interactive display where you can play detective as you examine objects that were melted and burned during the fire.
  4. The location of the Museum of London at London Wall, the old Roman boundary wall gives you an immediate connection to the fabric of the ancient city. The Barbican centre itself was constructed on the site of a military building dating from the Roman period. and also suffered heavy bomb damage during the Second World War.
  5. Plans are well underway to move the Museum of London to its new home at the large building in the former Smithfield Market. Its new location will make it a highlight of the Culture Mile, situated in the north-west of the City of London. Most visitors will be able to travel to the museum by the Elizabeth line, making it very easily accessible.

History of the Museum of London

  • 1826 – the story of the London Museum began when a Roman mosaic was discovered in the City of London at Tower Street. The Guildhall Museum was established to display the finds.
  • 1912 – the Museum of London was established at Kensington place. The new museum had a much wider remit and displayed collections covering the history of the capital from prehistoric times to the present day.
  • 1914 – the Museum of London moved to Lancaster House in London’s West End.
  • 1965 – an Act of Parliament was passed to merge the two museums.
  • 1976 – the Museum moved to the London Wall site.
  • 2020 – the Museum is preparing to relocate to its new location in Smithfield (planned for 2021)

Facilities and accessibility

Entry to the Museum of London is free.

The Museum is designed to be very accessible, with automatic entrance doors and all floors being suitable for users of wheelchairs, pushchairs and buggies.

A lift to the upper levels is fully accessible and has raised buttons plus spoken announcements. Accessible toilet facilities and baby changing areas are available.

Discover a wide selection of souvenirs, books, toys and gifts at the Museum shop. The bar, restaurant and cafe offer a wide range of menus including vegetarian, halal and kosher options. There is also an outdoor beer garden and dining area.

The Museum of London offers conference facilities and is also a popular wedding reception venue.