Wednesday 18th May marks the annual International Day of Museums, which aims to raise awareness about the importance of museums as a means of cultural exchange and the development of mutual understanding. In recognition of the day itself, I have pulled together a list of, in my opinion, the five best museums that are worth visiting within a half an hour’s walk of the SOAS campus!
1. The Brunei Gallery
2. The British Museum
Next up is the British Museum, which is pretty much on the campus doorstep. This was the world’s first national museum opened to the public and is one of the capital’s prettiest spaces. Despite its name, this museum is only fleetingly concerned with British history – instead, it hosts artefacts from the pre-historic man right through to Ancient Egypt.
3.Royal Academy of Arts
If art is more your thing, then the Royal Academy of Arts is a no-brainer to visit. This is the oldest fine arts institution in Britain, founded in 1768. As well as giving a public platform to artists through the annual Summer Exhibition, it hosts a world-class programme of international exhibitions.
4. Museum of London
Number three is the Museum of London which is sandwiched between London’s ancient and modern heritage. This museum documents the history of the UK capital from prehistoric times to the present day and is one of the best museums for diving into the Big Smoke’s past.
5. The National Gallery
The jewel in the crown of London’s Trafalgar Square is The National Gallery. This impressive neoclassical building houses paintings from the mid-13th century to 1900 and is a real treasure trove if you’re into classical paintings because it’s here you’ll find works by the likes of Van Gogh, Da Vinci and Botticelli.
6. London Transport Museum
And finally, in what used to be part of the Covent Garden market, you’ll find the story of London’s public transport system. With some of the earliest trains and buses to have ever travelled across London on show, this place opens your eyes to the evolution of transportation that we often take for granted today. Not only is this museum host to some great exhibitions, but it also holds events such as Museum After Dark and Music of the Underground, which is highly worth a visit!
From ancient history to modern art, there is a museum suited for everyone in London. For more inspiration, check out the International Council of Museums for more information on how you can get involved with this year’s International Day of Museums.
Rachael Woodroffe is a SOAS Digital Ambassador currently studying a distant learning online Masters in Global Corporations and Policy. Rachael lives in the South West of England and works full-time in Corporate Affairs alongside her studies.