My favourite UK museums and galleries

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Posted by Sarah

I’ve been reading this story about how the UK’s museums are reporting cheery predictions for 2009, since their visitor numbers jumped last year. It certainly makes a change from all the financial doom and gloom we’re being bombarded with! And it’s got me thinking about my favourite museums and galleries to visit too.

Here’s a potted list (in no particular order) – and guess what? It’s free to get into the permanent collections of all the attractions below.

My favourites in London

The British Museum in Bloomsbury – Well, of course! The first time I visited this treasure trove of history was on a primary school trip, and I’ve been going back regularly ever since. I haven’t been to see its newest exhibition on Iran yet, but it looks fascinating.

The V&A in South Kensington – I adore the sheer breadth of artistic innovations that the Victoria and Albert Museum focuses on, from its ancient Egyptian pottery collection to its exhibition of Kylie Minogue costumes from a couple of years ago.

The Science Museum in South Kensington – I’m no scientist, but I love how much fun the Science Museum always is – for adults as well as children. Although it’s a little embarrassing when I have to queue to play with the exhibits next to a bunch of five year olds!

Tate Modern on Bankside – More than any other art gallery in Britain, Tate Modern is my favourite for wandering around in. ‘The Crack’ it engineered in its floor last year was just spectacular.

And not forgetting the rest of the country…

The Baltic in Gateshead – I always make it a point to visit this flour mill-turned-gallery every time I visit Newcastle, more to revel in its beautiful space than its exhibits. And it definitely provides the best place to survey the city’s magnificent skyline.

Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool – I’m so glad this place has seen its visitor numbers jump up during Liverpool’s Capital of Culture year. It’s got some great works spanning the centuries – from Rembrandt to Hockney – and is really easy to get to from the train station.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow – I think I mentioned this place in my post on Glasgow last week but the building really is unforgettable. I’d go in the summer and spend some time in the neighbouring park too – this is definitely Glasgow at its best.

Dundee Contemporary Arts in (surprise) Dundee – OK, it’s less of a gallery/museum and more an event space but the DCA really is a cultural highlight in a city that has a pretty bad rep, unfairly I’d say. The DCA really is worth a visit if you’re in Dundee though, and there’s a great view of the silvery River Tay right next door.

Well, that’s my rundown folks – although I’m fairly sure that I’ll have missed out a few vital ones (feel free to add to my list below!). I’d definitely recommend keeping two more on your radar though – the Ashmolean in Oxford and Edinburgh‘s Royal Museum, both of which are closed for refurbishment for a while. The Edinburgh museum is particularly stunning inside. Apparently they host events too, so if I ever get married, I think it’s going to have to be there :).

One response to “My favourite UK museums and galleries

  1. georginaferry

    If you’re in Oxford the Ashmolean has now been open since Autumn 2009 and its amazing new galleries are wowing residents and visitors alike.

    Do also visit the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, with its wonderful Victorian gothic architecture and the world’s best-preserved specimens of the dodo. See http://www.oum.ox.ac.uk and dodology.wordpress.com

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