London is the home to some of the world’s finest art galleries and museums in the world. From ancient history to fashionable hats, London has all to satiate your aesthetic pleasure. From historic to contemporary works, these London-based galleries and museums will provide you with a productive day of cultural entertainment without breaking the bank.
The National Gallery
The National Gallery houses the national collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the 13th to the 19th centuries. It holds a collection of more than 2,000 Western European paintings dating from the mid-13th in 1900. The National Gallery was founded in 1824 when the British government bought 38 paintings from the banker John Julius Angerstein for 57,000 pounds. Angerstein’s paintings were joined in 1826 by those from Beaumont’s collection, and in 1831 by the Reverend William Holwell Car’s bequest of 35 paintings. During the 15th and 16th century Italian paintings were where at the core of the National Gallery. Some of the significant purchases were made in the post-war years [ The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist by Leonardo da Vinci (bought in 1962) and Titian’s Death of Actaeon (1972) ].
The British Museum is dedicated to human history, art and culture. It came into being when King George II gave his formal accent to an act of parliament. Initially, it was founded as a “universal museum”. It has a permanent collection of some 8 million works and is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence.
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum (often abbreviated as the V&A), London, is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. It was founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The V&A has its origins in the Great Exhibition of 1851, with which Henry Cole, the museum’s first director, was involved in planning; initially it was known as the Museum of Manufactures. Several of the exhibits from the Exhibition were purchased to form the nucleus of the collection.
National Portrait Gallery, London
National Portrait Gallery was the first portrait gallery in the world when it opened in 1856. The three people largely responsible for the founding of the National Portrait Gallery are commemorated with busts over the main entrance. They are: Philip Henry Stanhope, Thomas Babington Macaulay and Thomas Carlyle. It was Stanhope, who, in 1846 as a Member of Parliament (MP), first offered the idea of a National Portrait Gallery. It was not until his third attempt, in 1856, this time from the House of Lords, that the proposal was accepted.
In London you’re never far from a museum or an artwork gallery. The metropolis is full of ethnic establishments. Do spare a day or two to visit these world-class man-made architectures.