There are some little known but brilliant small free museums in London if you’re looking for cool free things to do in the capital.
Now obviously there are some very famous, big free museums in London including the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the British Museum & the Imperial War Museum.
But because they are famous, these big free museums get seriously busy. And because they are big, they can be overwhelming.
London’s small free museums on the other hand are real hidden gems you can pop into and enjoy for a short visit minus the crowds.
That makes these small free museums brilliant for days out in London with kids or for anyone who has ever suffered – dare I say it – from museum fatigue amidst the world class wonders in London’s big museums.
So if you are looking for new fun things to do in London do check out this guide to the best small free museums in London.
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Petrie Museum Of Archeology
The Petrie Museum is a small free museum in London chock full of over 80,000 Egyptian and Sudanese archeological finds but is free from the crush of the Egyptian rooms in the British Museum.
It doesn’t have the really enormous Egyptian monuments that the British museum has but it does have exquisite small pieces including jewellery, pottery and textiles and amazing examples of hieroglyphics.
The Petrie Museum is a delight to pop into and a brilliant small museum for kids in junior school who are studying the Egyptians.
The museum is tucked away off Tottenham Court Road in the University of London site. If you are visiting with kids it is just a 10 minute walk from Coram’s Field Playground which is a great spot to burn off energy and have a picnic after the museum.
Grant Museum Of Natural History
The Grant Museum is a small free museum of natural history just around the corner from the Petrie Museum and another hidden gem in London.
It’s a weird and wonderful collection of everything from brains to an elephant skull and largely unchanged since the 19th Century it has a very Harry Potter feel to it.
It really is a small museum but it packs a lot in so you can enjoy lots of the wonders of the Natural History Museum for free without the queues and the crowds.
The Grant Museum is barely 5 minutes walk from Warren St, Goodge St and Euston Square tube stations. It’s also just 15 minutes walk from Regents Park if you want to combine a museum with outdoor fun for kids.
Ragged School Museum
The Ragged School Museum is an unusual small free museum in east London. The museum is set in an old Dr Barnados school and lets you experience for yourself life in a Victorian classroom.
The museum is great for all ages but a big hit with under 8s who’ve been doing the Victorians in year 1 and 2.
This little museum is tucked away by the canal at Limehouse. The walk from Limehouse DLR station takes about 20 minutes but is very cool as it takes you past all the boats in Limehouse Basin and some fabulous locks on the canal. Alternatively, walk down the canal from Mile End tube – Central, District & Hammersmith City lines – which is only 10 minutes away.
William Morris Gallery
The William Morris Gallery is a lovely small free museum in east London set in William Morris’s old home in Lloyd Park.
The museum is full of gorgeous William Morris decoration and gives visitors including small kids to have a hands on go at everything from weaving to stained glass window making.
The museum is a lovely place for a gentle potter with small children and there are playgrounds – and a moat – in the surrounding Lloyd Park.
If you’re not local to the museum and want to make a bigger day out in London of your visit you could combine the William Morris Gallery with the Vestry Museum another small free museum in London just 15 minutes walk away. Or for some outdoor fun you could head to Walthamstow Wetlands Centre a short bus ride away.
Vestry House Museum
Vestry House Museum is a fabulous small free museum in East London set in one of London’s early work houses.
The museum lets children explore work house life with hands on opportunities for dressing up and discovering some of the activities children would have done in the work house.
There are also a series of local history displays covering everything from Victorian dresses to local east London made toys, china and household gadgets. It feels like a small scale cross between the collections of bigger museums like the V&A, Museum of London & the Childhood Museum.
Like the Ragged School Museum, Vestry House is a brilliant small museum for children who have been studying the Victorians at school.
There’s a small pretty garden round the museum which is good for a picnic.
Vestry House is 10 minutes walk from Walthamstow Central on the Victoria line and Overground. It’s also just 15 minutes walk from the Morris Gallery, another small free museum in London.
It’s a local history museum with a small collection of English art and attractive gardens. Burgh House tries to be accessible to small children and there’s a family trail round the museum.
Burgh House is not a spectacular London museum but it is a beautiful house and a very calm and peaceful place to visit without all the hurly-burly of London’s biggest museums.
The Hunterian Museum is a small free museum in London with a weird and wonderful collection like none other.
The museum is home to the collection of the Royal College of Surgeons and is full of more than slightly strange things in jars.
It’s a brilliant small museum for 8 and ups who enjoy being freaked out by spooky London whilst learning a load about anatomy and the human body.
The Hunterian Museum is set in Lincoln’s Inn Fields and is just 5 minutes walk from Holborn tube and an easy walk from Covent Garden and Blackfriars. It’s also just a few minutes walk from another small free London museum, the John Soanes Museum.
John Soanes Museum
The John Soanes Museum is an absolute gem in the heart of London.
A small free museum in Lincoln’s Inn fields it was the home of Georgian and Regency architect John Soanes and is today exactly as he designed and left it. It really is a house like no other with fantastic moving walls, a crypt full of sarcophogus and other ancient stuff.
You can easily combine a visit to the John Soanes Museum with the Hunterian another small free London museum on Lincolns Inn Fields.
And there you go, 8 small free museums in London that are brilliant to pop into for short but very enjoyable visits without all the hustle and bustle of London’s bigger collections. I do hope you enjoy them.
For more fun things to do in London do check out these guides :
- 55 Historic Houses In London
- 101 Free Things To Do In London
- 15 London Steam Trains & Railways
- 24 Best London Woods & Forests
- 10 Pick Your Own Farms In London
- 50 Cool Things To Do In London
And do follow my Family Fun London page on Facebook for loads more days out …