Museum of London | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Museum of London

London, England, United Kingdom

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Ethan Doyle White / CC

About Museum of London

The Museum of London explores the history of UK’s capital city through a series of exhibitions.

The contents of some galleries at the Museum of London are constantly changing, although there are nine permanent collections. These look at the development of the city since prehistoric times, through to Roman London, the medieval period, the Great Fire of London in 1666 and onwards, right up to the present day.

Ranging from archaeological finds such as Roman ceramics to historic objects such as Oliver Cromwell’s death mask, the artefacts at the Museum of London offer an interesting and comprehensive insight into the city’s past.

There are also recreations of rooms and streets from different periods plus the chance to see an authentic medieval dungeon.

Museum of London history

Situated at the junction of London Wall and Aldersgate Street in the Barbican district of the City of London, the present building, designed by Philip Powell and Hidalgo Moya, was opened in 1976. It is the largest urban history museum in the world.

The Museum of London was created by an act of Parliament in 1965. It brought together the collections of two well-established museums, the Guildhall Museum and the London Museum.

The Guildhall Museum was founded by the Corporation of London in 1826, housed many archaeological discoveries of the previous two centuries from Roman and medieval London, the Hanbury Beaufoy collection of tradesmen’s tokens, and material relating to the city guilds and livery companies.

The London Museum, opened in 1912, had been conceived partly as a memorial to Edward VII, and as a result, it attracted royal collections. Other acquisitions included the John G. Joicey collection of Chelsea and Bow porcelain and decorative arts, Sir Richard Tangye’s English Civil Wars collection, and more than 400 pieces of English glass amassed by Sir Richard Garton.

Museum of London today

The museum’s displays have been conceived as a “biography” of London and with a focus on social-history. The exhibitions are arranged chronologically and include reconstructed furnished rooms from Roman Londinium, as well as marble sculptures from the Temple of Mithras; fine medieval pottery and metalwork; Tudor and Stuart arms, armour, and costumes; theatre memorabilia; a cell from Newgate Prison; shop interiors of various London trades; and a hansom cab.

Among the many popular exhibits are a diorama of the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the lord mayor’s state coach, dating to 1757.

Getting to the Museum of London

The museum’s entrance is located on a pedestrian high walk which can be reached by stairs, escalators or lifts from Aldersgate Street, London Wall or St Martin’s-le-Grand.

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