Top UK museums – The British Museum

Top UK Museums – The British Museum.

So I have decided to make the most of the remainder of my maternity leave and take some trips with my daughter.. ( and sometimes bring the husband) to visit the top museums in the UK. The British Museum was on the list already for our trip to London in December, so this is where I will start.

2016 review British Museum
The British museum London 2016 review.

About the British Museum.

The British Museum was founded in 1753. Proudly the first National Public Museum in the World and it is free to enter and explore. The galleries feature artefacts from across the globe.  Collections include Americas, Ancient Egypt, Africa, Asia, Ancient Rome and Greece, Europe and the Middle East. There are also Themes including Enlightenment ,Collecting the world and Living and Dying .

The Star of the Show.

The Rosetta stone is the most interesting and iconic artefact you will find in the British Museum. A ground breaking discovery containing script in both ancient Greek and Hieroglyphics. Meaning we can now decipher the meaning of Hieroglyphics today.

Rosetta stone

My favourite place.

The enlightenment gallery! From reading the titles of the historic books to the busts and sculptures dotting the room. This is my favourite place to walk through and explore within the museum.

As described by the British museum itself: The Enlightenment was an age of reason and learning that flourished across Europe and America from about 1680 to 1820. This rich and diverse permanent exhibition uses thousands of objects to demonstrate how people in Britain understood their world during this period. It is housed in the King’s Library, the former home of the library of King George III.


Some other great exhibits.

The Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece exhibits are undisputed  amongst the most interesting exhibits  in the museum. If not only purely due to the scale of some of the items on display.  Partial temples and giant statues will transport you back to ancient times as you wander through these fascinating pieces.


The facilities here are actually pretty great. Especially for families! There’s a family centre with lockers to store pushchairs and any other luggage, benches and tables to eat packed lunches and feed babies and ample changing facilities. There’s a restaurant and two cafes with a good selection of food and drinks on offer with plenty of seating. The museum is wheelchair accessible and easy to get about for wheelchair users.  There is also a large gift shop with a lovely wide selection of souvenirs and replicas.

Download a floor plan here

Floor plan

Getting there and when to visit.

The museum is easily reached by walking from London Euston train station and the nearest tube stations are Tottenham Court Road and Holborn.

Admission to the British museum is free and is open daily 10.00–17.30 and on Fridays until 20.30.

I have to say I’m very proud of this museum and would recommend more people in the UK to visit. Have you been? What was your favourite part? Let me know in the comments below 🙂


The Barber Institute Birmingham

The Barber Institute is a lesser known art gallery in Birmingham but has some great paintings on display.

Barber Institute

Located in the Birmingham University grounds this art gallery has an amazing collection of paintings. You will find Van Gough, Turner, Monet, Renoir and Rubens to mention a few.

Coined as one of the finest small art galleries in Europe. The Barber Institute is a must-see for art lovers visiting Birmingham.

As I walked around the gallery I enjoyed the intimate atmosphere. I took time to study the paintings without a crowd gathering around me. The works are thoughtfully presented and laid out. Making the visit flow through styles and ages.

The Barber Institute
‘The Peacock feather’ Antonio Mancini

The Barber Institute was founded in 1932 by Lady Barber in memory of her husband (William) Henry Barber. Upon her death four months later, she left the Barber fortune to the Institute. This enabled the building to be designed and built before being officially opened by Queen Mary in 1939.

The Barber Institute

Today the institute continues the legacy ‘for the Study and encouragement of art and music’.

Current exhibits include ‘The Modernist Face SMITH, DOBSON & BRITISH PORTRAITURE 1920-60’ My favourite painting in this exhibit was a portrait of Roald Dahl by Sir Matthew Arnold Bracy Smith. This exhibit runs until 27th September.

Barber Institute
Sir Matthew Arnold Bracy Smith’s portrait of Roald Dahl 1944

Other exhibits currently on show are FROM ‘RED’ ELLEN TO OSWALD MOSLEY  PORTRAITS OF INTER-WAR POLITICIANS BY EDMUND KAPP. and a Roman coin collection ‘Inheriting Rome’.

The Barber Institute is open Monday to Friday 10am-5pm and at weekends 11am-5pm. Admission is free, however a donation can be made which is suggested at £5.

Find out more the collection and events here: The Barber Institute

Crime museum Scotland Yard

The Crime museum

Also known as the Black Museum, the Crime museum Scotland Yard in London contains some rarely seen exhibits from the criminal world.

I have visited some macabre places, Sedlec Ossuary at Kutna Hora, The museum and grounds at Auschwitz but this is a different sort of museum.

The Black Museum, the crime museum
Image from The Crime Museum Scotland Yard

The Crime museum Scotland Yard is a closed museum and I was very lucky to get the chance to take the tour. The curator walked us around some of the main exhibits imparting his extensive knowledge of the broad range of articles on show. Then we were given our handsets, free to explore and listen to the stories behind the exhibits of our choice.

The museum was originally set up to train Police Officers on how to detect and prevent burglary. From 1877 a visit to the museum was part of CID training and it was in this year the museum got its name ‘The black museum’ as a reporter was refused entrance. Today the museum is visited by Police Officers and staff from around the world.

As you walk around the museum, there are many faces looking back at you. The death masks of criminals of the past, hung at Newgate Prison for their crimes.

An array of hanging ropes are on display, showing the difference in design through the ages. I was surprised to learn that the last hanging in England was in 1964. Interestingly two men were hanged at exactly the same time so no one would have the title of last man executed in the UK.

Ruth Ellis.jpg The crime museum
Ruth Ellis wikipedia The Crime Museum Scotland Yard

The exhibit of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in the UK caught my attention. The curator explained the story. Convicted of killing her partner after a turbulent and violent relationship in April 1955. Just 3 months after the offence she was executed by hanging in July 1955. This case, a crime of passion, causes debate even to this day.

More details of the famous executioner Albert Pierrepoint, responsible for over 400 executions and the history of hangings in the UK were explained by the curator.

Moving further around the museum we were shown weapons of all shapes and sizes. All of which had been used or found on criminals to be used on the streets of the UK. Walking stick and umbrella guns. Knives disguised as every day objects. These criminals were inventive. One saving grace was the thought they were no longer out there on the streets to be used.

As we were shown through to the more recent exhibits, the crimes became more real. The bath used by serial killer Dennis Nilsen to keep body parts and the pot used to boil the heads of his victims on the cooker. Everyday objects connected to such brutal crimes.

Terrorism exhibits, some replicas, show how the face of crime in the UK is changing. The lengths terrorists will go to and what the Police are up against.

A case dedicated to Police Officers who have been killed in the line of duty was particularly emotional. The museum really shows the dangers and difficulties Police Officers face every day and where unfortunately some pay the ultimate price.

The museum tells a story. Not a history of the police but a history of how crime is investigated and evidence is gathered. The museum highlights the changing times and technology which reflects the way crimes and criminals are dealt with today.

I left in a sober mood but also with intrigue.

Of course, one of the most famous crime stories in London is the case of Jack the Ripper. The notes made by investigating officers of the time were a fascinating read. But I will leave you with the mystery of who was Jack the Ripper?


Although the Crime Museum is not open to the public, some of the exhibits will be on show at the Museum of London from 9 October 2015 – 10 April 2016