London’s top galleries and museums | Tunde Folawiyo

Many people including Tunde Folawiyo may consider London to be their second home, and are therefore familiar with its many galleries and museums. However, for those who are new to the city, there are a few recommendations of historical and artistic sites to visit, the first of which is the National Gallery. Located on Trafalgar Square, it has been open to the public for 190 years. It is free to visit, and as such, is perfect for anyone who appreciates art, but whose holiday budget is limited.

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Whilst it began with a tiny collection of just three dozen paintings, the museum now houses over 2,300 works of art. Many of these pieces date back to the 1200s, and were created by the early masters. As you make your way from one room to the next, you can expect to come across pieces by Piero della Francesca and Giotto, as well as Bellini, Van Eyck, Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo. This gallery can become quite busy, particularly during the summer months; it is one of the world’s top five ‘most visited’ museums, and is often teeming over with tourists and art students. If you wish to avoid the crowds, it’s best to visit in the morning, rather than the afternoon.

Another must-see gallery in London is the Tate Britain. Even if you’re not a frequent visitor to London, like Tunde Folawiyo you will probably have heard of this particular gallery. It’s perfect for those who are keen to view both early and modern artwork, as the collection here includes pieces dating from the 16th century, up to the present day. The diversity of the media found here – from photography to print, to sculpture, drawing, installation, film and painting, makes for a fascinating viewing experience. There are a number of rooms which are dedicated solely to one artist, such as Sam Taylor-Wood, Douglas Gordon or Tracey Emin. Retrospectives of the careers of British artists are also regularly held here, as are temporary exhibitions which are arranged by guest curators.

Last but not least is the National History Museum, which can be found in South Kensington. This vast museum exhibits an enormous number of ancient specimens; in total there are over 70 million items. These specimens are divided up into five collections, including zoology, palaeontology, mineralogy, entomology and botany. There are also approximately 6 million rare manuscripts and books on display here. In addition to serving as an informational space for the public, the museum is also a research centre, specialising in conservation and taxonomy. Like the National Gallery, it is free to visit.

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