Five Museums you need to visit while in London
In London for a bit! Then you have time to step into a museum. Museums are for everyone. Quite literally they belong to the public. Here are some museums I recommend visiting for their free permanent collections. They also have usually got some very interesting exhibitions; however, their permanent collections should not be ignored! The National Portrait Gallery would be down here, but it is currently undergoing reconstruction until next year. I will try and recommend an artist and a work for every museum that I love as a starting point, but I encourage you to go out and find your own works.
For anyone who is a fan of the Old Masters. This museum contains some of the most famous works ever. I could go on for pages about this museum as its collection is massive. However, the museum has divided itself into routes making it easier to navigate. My favorite artist in this collection is Titian. If you’ve seen a mythological painting, you might have come across this colorful and dynamic painter. His work “Bacchus and Ariadne” has one of the boldest blue skies and captures the dream-like delusions that Ariadne is feeling before her death.
Victoria and Albert Museum
The V&A has one of most diverse collections when it comes to materials and types of works. Whether you like statues, metal work, costumes, or paintings there’s something for you. As an archaeologystudent, the cast room has my heart. Casts are not the real thing and I remember being disappointed when I found out that, obviously, Michelangelo’s David is not in London but in Florence. However, casts are still an amazing way of being able to see the original, especially if they have been damaged. The most valuable of these is the “Trajan column” cast. This monster of a structure allows us to see what the original Trojan column in Rome would have resembled, as it has been weathered away by time outside in the air.
This museum’s collection is like that of the National Gallery. It does contain in addition a few extra sculptors’ such as Henry Moore if that’s your cup of tea. This gallery has some beautiful paintings. A room which I have often visited and seem to find something new every time is the 19th century room, filled with one of my favorite movements, The Pre-Raphaelites. In addition, you can find American painter John Singer Sargent. Most of this painter’s works are in the U.S., however one of his most luminous and fairylike works is in this collection: “Lily Lily Rose Carnation”. This shows two young girls playing with lanterns in white dresses amongst some flowers. Sargent’s impressive mastery of colour makes it seem as if there were lights within the painting.
This museum takes the variety of mediums and materials to a different level than the Victorian and Albert Museum and has some of the most visually stunning free exhibitions as well as an interesting collection. The building is also gorgeous and can provide you with a view of the London skyline. I have enjoyed all its crazy installations, whether watching my body submerge in smog or Anika Yi’s floating “In Love with the World” creations. It is one of the museums where it’s ambience and its design is as impressive as its collection. You can also get an amazing view of London’s skyline if you make it to the top. I really enjoy Cildo Merieles’ “Babel”, referencing the biblical tower of Babel. The sculpture is made from analogue radios all creating an incomprehensible jumble of words. One of the things I like about art is that it is up to everyone to come up with their own interpretation, and therefore I encourage you to do so and see what meaning you give to this work or others.
Although this museum is full of controversy, with objects stolen from all over the world, it is still an institution filled with culture that ought to be visited. There are diverse objects from a range of foreign countries everywhere in the world, be it the absolutely packed Egyptian galleries or Aztec friezes. It also houses two of the seven wonders of the world! The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus and remains from the temple of Artemis in Ephesus are hugely impressive.My favorite artefact is the standard of Ur. Made from the expensive materials of lapis lazuli, this standard shows on one side scenes of peace and on another that of war. It is Mesopotamian and was created in 2600 BCE. In the same way art is shaped by the viewer’s interpretation, archeological objects are open to everyone’s unique perspective, and the purpose and meaning of the standard of Ur is still undetermined.
I hope that this will help give you an insight into some of London’s museums or add on to pre-existing knowledge. Do not feel overwhelmed by them or like you need to spend hours there. Just find a work of art you like.