Museum of London, Barbican Centre
The Museum of London – together with its branch, the Museum of London Docklands – is the main museum dedicated to the history of the city of London throughout the ages.
Opened in 1976, the museum is housed in a 1970s building, part of the Barbican Centre, renovated in 2010 after a design by British architectural firm Wilkinson Eyre.
The museum spaces are arranged around the Sackler Hall, a large gathering space equipped with digital information kiosks and also used for contemporary art exhibitions. The permanent exhibition is divided into seven different galleries, chronologically depicting the history of London from prehistory to the present day, mainly through an impressive collection of objects and archaeological findings.
London before London presents the history of the Lower Thames Valley from 450,000 B.C. to the foundation of Londinium by the Romans, in 50 A.D.
Roman London illustrates London during the Roman Empire by the means of models and archaeological pieces, including sculptures, mosaics, building decorations, inscriptions, coins, cameos, and everyday objects.
Medieval London focuses on the period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the accession of Queen Elisabeth I, in 1558. The gallery includes the reconstruction of a Saxon wooden house, together with artworks, altarpieces, religious objects, jewels, arms, and garment.
War, Plague & Fire focuses on two centuries, the 16th and 17th, among the most tumultuous in British history, marked by events which included a Civil War, the execution of a king, and the “Great Fire” that almost completely destroyed the City of London in 1666.
Expanding City depicts the resurgence of London after the fire and the rising of Britain up to the state of the world’s largest economic and military power in the late-18th century and early 18th century. The gallery includes iconic artifacts such as Admiral Lord Nelson’s sword of honor.
People’s City covers the period between the mid-19th century and World War Two and tells the glorious events and great contradictions of what, at the time, was the world’s wealthiest and largest city. The gallery also features real-scale reconstructions of what central London looked like in the Victorian age.
World’s City is focused on modern London, from the postwar reconstruction to the “Swinging London”, from the Punk Revolution to the transformation of London from an industrial city to a capital of the global “immaterial” economy.
The museum regularly organizes and hosts temporary exhibitions, workshops, and educational programs.
The Museum of London also contains a “British classics” restaurant, two cafés, a free lunch space, and a book and gift shop. The building of the museum is fully accessible to physically impaired persons, a limited number of wheelchairs is also available, free of charge.
Museum of London, Barbican Centre, a display-window with Lord Mayor’s State Coach, 1757. Image courtesy of WilkinsonEyre.
The lobby of the museum. Photo courtesy of WilkinsonEyre.
Roman London gallery, the Bucklersbury mosaic, ca. 250 AD. Image courtesy of The Museum of London.
Medieval London gallery, the reconstruction of a Saxon wooden house. Image courtesy of The Museum of London.
Expanding City gallery, the sword of honor od Admiral Lord Nelson, 1798. Image courtesy of The Museum of London.
People’s City gallery. A full-scale reconstruction of a street of the 19th century Victorian London. Image courtesy of the Museum of London.
World’s City gallery, a 1960s “Beatles themed” dress. Image courtesy of The Museum of London.
Cover image, Museum of London, exterior view; photo courtesy of WilkinsonEyre.
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