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United Kingdom

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north­western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north­eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland. Otherwise, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the southwest, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The total area of the United Kingdom is 94,000 square miles . The United Kingdom is a unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the world's longest-serving current head of state. The United Kingdom's capital is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. The United Kingdom consists of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers. Other major cities include Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, and Manchester. The nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The union between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, followed by the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The UK's name was adopted in 1927 to reflect the change. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed almost a quarter of the world's landmass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language, culture and political systems of many of its former colonies. The United Kingdom has the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal gross domestic product , and the ninth-largest by purchasing power parity . It has a high-income economy and a very high human development index rating, ranking 15th in the world. It was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, cultural, military, scientific and political influence internationally. It is a recognised nuclear weapons state and is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946. The United Kingdom is a leading member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development , Interpol and the World Trade Organization . It was a member of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community from 1 January 1973 until withdrawing on 31 January 2020.

Scottish National Gallery

Edinburgh

The Scottish National Gallery is the national art gallery of Scotland. It is located on The Mound in central Edinburgh, close to Princes Street. The building was designed in a neoclassical style by William Henry Playfair, and first opened to the public in 1859.The gallery houses Scotland's national collection of fine art, spanning Scottish and international art from the beginning of the Renaissance up to the start of the 20th century. The Scottish National Gallery is run by National Galleries of Scotland, a public body that also owns the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Because of its architectural similarity, the Scottish National Gallery is frequently confused by visitors with the neighbouring Royal Scottish Academy Building , a separate institution which works closely with the Scottish National Gallery.

National Gallery

Westminster

The National Gallery is an art museum in Trafalgar Square in the City of Westminster, in Central London. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900.The Gallery is an exempt charity, and a non-departmental public body of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Its collection belongs to the government on behalf of the British public, and entry to the main collection is free of charge. In 2019, it was ranked seventh in the world on the List of most visited art museums.Unlike comparable museums in continental Europe, the National Gallery was not formed by nationalising an existing royal or princely art collection. It came into being when the British government bought 38 paintings from the heirs of John Julius Angerstein in 1824. After that initial purchase the Gallery was shaped mainly by its early directors, especially Sir Charles Lock Eastlake, and by private donations, which now account for two-thirds of the collection. The collection is smaller than many European national galleries, but encyclopaedic in scope; most major developments in Western painting "from Giotto to Cézanne" are represented with important works. It used to be claimed that this was one of the few national galleries that had all its works on permanent exhibition, but this is no longer the case. The present building, the third to house the National Gallery, was designed by William Wilkins from 1832 to 1838. Only the facade onto Trafalgar Square remains essentially unchanged from this time, as the building has been expanded piecemeal throughout its history. Wilkins's building was often criticised for the perceived weaknesses of its design and for its lack of space; the latter problem led to the establishment of the Tate Gallery for British art in 1897. The Sainsbury Wing, a 1991 extension to the west by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, is a significant example of Postmodernist architecture in Britain. The current Director of the National Gallery is Gabriele Finaldi.

Victoria and Albert Museum

London

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is the world's largest museum of applied and decorative arts and design, as well as sculpture, housing a permanent collection of over 2.27 million objects. It was founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The V&A is located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, in an area known as "Albertopolis" because of its association with Prince Albert, the Albert Memorial and the major cultural institutions with which he was associated. These include the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Royal Albert Hall and Imperial College London. The museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. As with other national British museums, entrance is free. The V&A covers 12.5 acres and 145 galleries. Its collection spans 5,000 years of art, from ancient times to the present day, from the cultures of Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa. However, the art of antiquity in most areas is not collected. The holdings of ceramics, glass, textiles, costumes, silver, ironwork, jewellery, furniture, medieval objects, sculpture, prints and printmaking, drawings and photographs are among the largest and most comprehensive in the world. The museum owns the world's largest collection of post-classical sculpture, with the holdings of Italian Renaissance items being the largest outside Italy. The departments of Asia include art from South Asia, China, Japan, Korea and the Islamic world. The East Asian collections are among the best in Europe, with particular strengths in ceramics and metalwork, while the Islamic collection is amongst the largest in the Western world. Overall, it is one of the largest museums in the world. Since 2001, the museum has embarked on a major £150m renovation programme. New 17th- and 18th-century European galleries were opened on 9 December 2015. These restored the original Aston Webb interiors and host the European collections 1600–1815. The V&A Museum of Childhood in East London is a branch of the museum, and a new branch in London is being planned. The first V&A museum outside London, V&A Dundee opened on 15 September 2018.

Walker Art Gallery

Liverpool

The Walker Art Gallery is an art gallery in Liverpool, which houses one of the largest art collections in England outside London. It is part of the National Museums Liverpool group and is promoted as "the National Gallery of the North". It is funded directly by the UK government.

National Library of Wales

Penparcau

The National Library of Wales , Aberystwyth, is the national legal deposit library of Wales and is one of the Welsh Government sponsored bodies. It is the biggest library in Wales, holding over 6.5 million books and periodicals, and the largest collections of archives, portraits, maps and photographic images in Wales. The Library is also home to the national collection of Welsh manuscripts, the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales, and the most comprehensive collection of paintings and topographical prints in Wales. As the primary research library and archive in Wales and one of the largest research libraries in the United Kingdom, the National Library is a member of Research Libraries UK and the Consortium of European Research Libraries .At the very core of the National Library of Wales is the mission to collect and preserve materials related to Wales and Welsh life and those which can be utilised by the people of Wales for study and research. Welsh is the Library's main medium of communication but it does, however, aim to deliver all public services in Welsh and English. In January 2015 the Library, in partnership with Wikimedia UK, appointed a full-time Wikipedian in Residence with the aim of developing further its resources on an open licence, to a worldwide audience.

Imperial War Museum

London

Imperial War Museums is a British national museum organisation with branches at five locations in England, three of which are in London. Founded as the Imperial War Museum in 1917, the museum was intended to record the civil and military war effort and sacrifice of Britain and its Empire during the First World War. The museum's remit has since expanded to include all conflicts in which British or Commonwealth forces have been involved since 1914. As of 2012, the museum aims "to provide for, and to encourage, the study and understanding of the history of modern war and 'wartime experience'."Originally housed in the Crystal Palace at Sydenham Hill, the museum opened to the public in 1920. In 1924, the museum moved to space in the Imperial Institute in South Kensington, and finally in 1936, the museum acquired a permanent home that was previously the Bethlem Royal Hospital in Southwark. The outbreak of the Second World War saw the museum expand both its collections and its terms of reference, but in the post-war period, the museum entered a period of decline. The 1960s saw the museum redevelop its Southwark building, now referred to as Imperial War Museum London, which serves as the organisation's corporate headquarters. During the 1970s, the museum began to expand onto other sites. The first, in 1976, was a historic airfield in Cambridgeshire now referred to as IWM Duxford. In 1978, the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Belfast became a branch of the museum, having previously been preserved for the nation by a private trust. In 1984, the Cabinet War Rooms, an underground wartime command centre, was opened to the public. From the 1980s onwards, the museum's Bethlem building underwent a series of multimillion-pound redevelopments, completed in 2000. Finally, 2002 saw the opening of IWM North in Trafford, Greater Manchester, the fifth branch of the museum and the first in the north of England. In 2011, the museum rebranded itself as IWM, standing for "Imperial War Museums". The museum's collections include archives of personal and official documents, photographs, film and video material, and oral history recordings, an extensive library, a large art collection, and examples of military vehicles and aircraft, equipment, and other artefacts. The museum is funded by government grants, charitable donations, and revenue generation through commercial activity such as retailing, licensing, and publishing. General admission is free to IWM London and IWM North, but an admission fee is levied at the other branches. The museum is an exempt charity under the Charities Act 1993 and a non-departmental public body under the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. As of January 2012, the Chairman of the Trustees is Sir Francis Richards. Since October 2008, the museum's director general has been Diane Lees.

Royal Scottish Academy

Edinburgh

For Scotland's national academy, see Royal Society of Edinburgh. The Royal Scottish Academy is the country’s national academy of art. It promotes contemporary Scottish art. The Academy was founded in 1826 by eleven artists meeting in Edinburgh. Originally named the Scottish Academy, it became the Royal Scottish Academy on being granted a royal charter in 1838. The RSA maintains a unique position in the country as an independently funded institution led by eminent artists and architects to promote and support the creation, understanding, and enjoyment of visual arts through exhibitions and related educational events.

Castle House, Dedham

Colchester

Castle House in Denham, Essex, England was the home of Sir Alfred Munnings from 1919 till his death in 1959. Architecturally the building contains a mixture of Tudor and Georgian elements.Shortly after his death his widow established The Violet Munnings Trust Fund in 1962 to establish and run an Art Museum in Castle House, in accordance with Munnings' wish that his pictures and estate be left to the nation. In 1965 Castle House Trust was formed whereby the house itself, surrounding land, all of Munnings' paintings still in the possession of Lady Munnings, and further amounts of money and investments were made over to the Trust to form the basis of a museum of his works.

Fitzwilliam Museum

Cambridge

The Fitzwilliam Museum is the art and antiquities museum of the University of Cambridge. It is located on Trumpington Street opposite Fitzwilliam Street in central Cambridge. It was founded in 1816 under the will of Richard FitzWilliam, 7th Viscount FitzWilliam , and comprises one of the best collections of antiquities and modern art in western Europe. With over half a million objects and artworks in its collections, the displays in the Museum explore world history and art from antiquity to the present. The treasures of the museum include artworks by Monet, Picasso, Rubens, Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, Cézanne, Van Dyck, and Canaletto, as well as a winged bas-relief from Nimrud. Admission to the public is always free.The museum is a partner in the University of Cambridge Museums consortium, one of 16 Major Partner Museum services funded by Arts Council England to lead the development of the museums sector.