Museum of London – Barbican

museum-of-london-exterior museum-of-london-sculpture museum-of-london-roman-wallOne of the best things about London is its rich diversity, not just culturally but also in its history, architecture, open spaces and even shops. In fact no matter where you are in London you needn’t look far to find evidence of this. London has no old quarter as such, instead an intricate tapestry of old and new weaves seamlessly throughout the city. In the financial district Roman ruins lie in the shadow of towering skyscrapers and East End Victorian warehouses are sandwiched between newly built high-rise flats. Walk along the river and you’ll find a replica of Shakespeare’s 16th Century playhouse the Globe stood diminutively beside the towering 1950’s concrete power station that is now home to the Tate Modern.

One place we love to visit that really captures the essence of this city’s unique story is The Museum of London on London Wall. This fantastic free museum documents the history of London from Prehistoric times to modern day. With more than 6 million artefacts it is the largest urban history collection in the world.

The museum is divided into galleries beginning with London Before London (450,000BC – AD 50). This gallery contains remains of prehistoric animals, Mesolithic tools and Bronze age weapons to mention a few. The next gallery Roman London (AD 50-410) showcases the birth of this great city, with models of how it first looked and what life would have been like 2000 years ago. From the gallery you can also see remains of the Roman London Wall that once fortified the edge of the city.

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Next up are the galleries of Medieval London (410 – 1558) and War, Plague and Fire (1550’s -1660’s). We find this section particularly fascinating with the gruesome stories of the Plague and the devastating great fire in 1666 which destroyed around 80 percent of the city. Until April 17th 2017 the museum has a special Great Fire of London Exhibition to mark the 350th anniversary of the fire. You will need to purchase tickets for this exhibition but it is well worth it. The displays are highly immersive with lots of interactive elements to engage children. There’s fun dressing up, plenty of games and quizzes and a wooden brick model of London to try your hand at rebuilding the city from the ashes. I thought it was one of the most interesting and thoughtfully designed exhibitions that we’ve visited. My kids loved it and wanted to go straight back round again!

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The Expanding City (1670’s – 1850’s) and People’s City Gallery (1850’s – 1940’s) are also must see galleries. Highlights include the atmospheric recreation of Vauxhall’s Pleasure Garden with a beautiful costume display from the Georgian era, and our favourite part – the Victorian Walk. Take a stroll around the cobbled streets of 19th century London, complete with a barber shop pharmacy, toyshop and even a pub!

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One of the last galleries World City (1950’s – today) is a nostalgic collection of post war memorabilia ranging from the fashion revolution of the 60’s and 70’s to iconic children’s tv characters such as Bill and Ben. From here the museum culminates with The City Gallery which houses the magnificent Lord Mayors State Coach, still used each year in the Lord Mayors Show.

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The Museum of London has big plans to move to a stunning new site at Smithfield Market. For now you you can find it at the following address:

Museum of London
150 London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN
tel: 020 7001 9844
Open daily: 10am – 6pm (galleries close at 5.40pm)

Kate x


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