1. British Library
- Receive a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland
- The collection includes well over 150 million items, in most known languages
- 3 million new items are added every year
- Manuscripts, maps, newspapers, magazines, prints and drawings, music scores, and patents
- The Sound Archive keeps sound recordings from 19th-century cylinders to CD, DVD and MD recordings
- We house 8 million stamps and other philatelic items
- All this requires over 625 km of shelves, and grows by 12 km every year
- If you see 5 items each day, it would take you over 80,000 years to see the whole of the collection
- The world's earliest dated printed book, the Diamond Sutra, is sometimes on display in our exhibition galleries alongside many other treasures
- We have on-site space for over 1,200 Readers
2. British Museum
- Magna Carta
- Lindisfarne Gospels
- Leonardo da Vinci's Notebook
- The Times first edition from 18 March 1788
- Beatles manuscripts
- The recording of Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech
The British Museum holds in trust for the nation and the world a collection of art and antiquities from ancient and living cultures. Housed in one of Britain's architectural landmarks, the collection is one of the finest in existence, spanning two million years of human history. Access to the collection is free. The Museum was based on the practical principle that the collection should be put to public use and be freely accessible. It was also grounded in the Enlightenment idea that human cultures can, despite their differences, understand one another through mutual engagement. The Museum was to be a place where this kind of humane cross-cultural investigation could happen. It still is. The Museum aims to reach a broader worldwide audience by extending engagement with this audience. This is engagement not only with the collections that the Museum has, but the cultures and territories that they represent, the stories that can be told through them, the diversity of truths that they can unlock and their meaning in the world today.
3. Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum is unique in its coverage of conflicts, especially those involving Britain and the Commonwealth, from the First World War to the present day. It seeks to provide for, and to encourage, the study and understanding of the history of modern war and "war-time experience". It is proud to be regarded as one of the essential sights of London.
4. Museum of London
Museum of London is one of the world's largest urban history museums and cares for over two million objects in its collection. The lower galleries are currently undergoing major redevelopment work which will see spectacular new galleries opening in spring 2010 telling the story of modern London from 1666 to the present day.
The Museum also holds the largest archaeological archive in Europe of this wealth of information.
5. National Maritime Museum
The National Maritime Museum comprises three sites: the Maritime Galleries, the Royal Observatory and the Queen's House. Together these constitute one museum working to illustrate for everyone the importance of the sea, ships, time and the stars and their relationship with people.
6. Natural History Museum
Interactive displays, dinosaurs, volcanoes, giant whales and much more make this one of the worlds most renowned and best loved museums.
7. Science Museum
The Science Museum was founded in 1857 with objects shown at the Great Exhibition held in the Crystal Palace. Today the Museum is world renowned for its historic collections, awe-inspiring galleries and inspirational exhibitions.
8. Sir John Soane's Museum
Soane was born in 1753, the son of a bricklayer, and died after a long and distinguished career, in 1837. Soane designed this house to live in, but also as a setting for his antiquities and his works of art. After the death of his wife (1815), he lived here alone, constantly adding to and rearranging his collections. Having been deeply disappointed by the conduct of his two sons, one of whom survived him, he determined to establish the house as a museum to which 'amateurs and students' should have access.
9. Theatre Museum
The V&A's Theatre Collections hold the UK's national collection of material about live performance in the UK since Shakespeare's day, covering drama, dance, musical theatre, circus, music hall, rock and pop, and other forms of live entertainment. Theatre and Performance galleries dedicated to the performing arts, display works of art, costumes, ephemera, video recordings, puppets, posters and photographs.
10. Victoria and Albert Museum
V&A South Kensington is the world's greatest museum of art and design, with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. Discover 3000 years' worth of amazing artefacts from many of the world's richest cultures including ceramics, furniture, fashion, glass, jewellery, metalwork, photographs, sculpture, textiles and paintings.