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Top 10 Best Museums in United Kingdom

Mejores museos del Reino Unido.

United Kingdom has some of the most visited museums in the world. In this article we have compiled the 10 best art museums in UK so you can lose yourself in their huge galleries and art collections

1- National Gallery, London

National Gallery de Londres.

The National Gallery is an art museum located in Trafalgar Square, in the City of Westminster, in central London, England. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings ranging 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 is owned by the government on behalf of the British public, and admission to the main collection is free

In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it attracted only 1,197,143 visitors, down 50% from 2019, but it still ranks eighth on the list of most visited art museums in the world.

Interior de la National Gallery de Londres.

Unlike comparable museums in continental Europe, the National Gallery was not formed through the nationalization of an existing royal or princely art collection. It came into being when the British government purchased 38 paintings from the heirs of John Julius Angerstein in 1824. After that initial purchase, the Gallery was shaped primarily by its early directors, notably Charles Lock Eastlake, and by private donations, which now account for two-thirds of the collection

The collection is smaller than that of many European national galleries, but encyclopedic in scope; most of the major developments in Western painting“from Giotto to Cézanne” are represented with important works. It used to be said to be one of the few national galleries to have all its works on permanent display, but this is no longer the case.

The current building, the third to house the National Gallery, was designed by William Wilkins between 1832 and 1838. Only the façade facing Trafalgar Square remains essentially unchanged from this period, as the building has been gradually extended throughout its history.

Wilkins’s building was often criticized for perceived weaknesses in its design and for its lack of space; the latter problem led to the creation of the Tate Gallery for British art in 1897. The Sainsbury Wing, a 1991 westward extension 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.

2- British Museum, London

British Museum de Londres.

The British Museum is a public museum dedicated to the history, art and culture of mankind, located in the Bloomsbury area of London

Its permanent collection of eight million works is one of the largest and most comprehensive in existence and documents the history of human culture from its beginnings to the present. The British Museum was the world’s first national public museum.

The Museum was established in 1753, based largely on the collections of the Anglo-Irish physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. It was first opened to the public in 1759, in Montagu House, on the site of the present building. The museum’s expansion over the next 250 years was largely a result of British colonization and led to the creation of several offshoot institutions, or independent spin-offs, the first being the Natural History Museum in 1881.

Interior del British Museum.

In 1973, the British Library Act 1972 delinked the library department from the British Museum, but the British Museum continued to house the now separate British Library in the same reading room and building as the museum until 1997

It is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and like all national museums in the UK does not charge admission except for loan exhibitions.

The ownership of a small percentage of its most famous objects, originating in other countries, is disputed and remains the subject of international controversy through claims of repatriation, notably in the case of the Elgin Marbles from Greece, and the Rosetta Stone from Egypt.

3- Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Museo Fitzwilliam en Cambridge.

The Fitzwilliam Museum is the museum of art and antiquities of the University of Cambridge. It is located in Trumpington Street, opposite Fitzwilliam Street, in the center of Cambridge. It was founded in 1816 under the will of Richard FitzWilliam, 7th Viscount FitzWilliam (1745-1816), and comprises one of the finest collections of antiquities and modern art in Western Europe.

With more than half a million objects and works of art in its collections, the museum’s exhibitions explore the history of the world and art from antiquity to the present. The museum’s treasures include works of art by Monet, Picasso, Rubens, Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, Cézanne, Van Dyck and Canaletto, as well as a winged bas-relief by Nimrud. Admission to the public is always free.

The museum is part of the Cambridge University Museums consortium, one of 16 Major Museum Services funded by Arts Council England to lead the development of the museum sector.

The museum has five departments: Antiquities; Applied Arts; Coins and Medals; Manuscripts and Rare Prints; and Paintings, Drawings and Prints

Interior del museo Fitzwilliam.

Together, they cover antiquities from ancient Egypt, Nubia, Greece and Rome, Roman-Egyptian art, Western Asian displays and a new gallery of Cypriot art; applied arts, such as English and European ceramics and glass, furniture, clocks and watches, fans, armor, Chinese, Japanese and Korean art, carpets and samplers; coins and medals; illuminated, literary and musical manuscripts and rare printed books; paintings, including masterpieces by Simone Martini, Domenico Veneziano, Titian, Veronese, Rubens, Van Dyck, van Goyen, Frans Hals, Canaletto, Hogarth, Gainsborough, Constable, Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne and Picasso and an excellent collection of 20th century art; miniatures, drawings, watercolors and prints.

Among the notable works in the antiquities collection is a bas-relief of Persepolis.

4- Tate Modern, London

Galería de arte Tate Modern.

The Tate Modern is an art gallery located in London. It houses the UK’s national collection of modern and contemporary international art, and is part of the Tate group along with Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives. It is located in the former Bankside Power Station, in the Bankside area of the London Borough of Southwark.

The Tate Modern is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the world. Like the UK’s other national galleries and museums, access to the collection exhibitions, which occupy most of the gallery space, is free, while tickets must be purchased for the major temporary exhibitions

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum was closed for 173 days in 2020, and attendance was down 77% to 1,432,991. Nevertheless, the Tate ranked third on the list of the world’s most visited art museums in 2020,and the most visited in Britain The nearest London Underground and train station is Blackfriars, which is 0.5 km (0.5 km) from the gallery.

Tate Modern’s collections consist of works of international modern and contemporary art dating from 1900 to the present day.

Interior del museo Tate Modern.

Levels 2, 3 and 4 contain the gallery space. Each of these floors is divided into a large east and west wing with at least 11 rooms in each. The space between these wings is also used for smaller galleries on levels 2 and 4. The Boiler House displays art from 1900 to the present.

The Boiler House has eleven floors, numbered 0 to 10. Levels 0, 2, 3 and 4 house galleries. Level 0 consists of the Tanks, spaces converted from the plant’s original fuel oil tanks, while all the other levels are in the tower extension building constructed above them. The Switchgear Room exhibits works of art from 1960 to the present day.

The Turbine Hall is a large single space that runs the entire length of the building between the Boiler Hall and the Switch Room. With six floors, it represents the full height of the original power plant building. It is cut by bridges between the Boiler Room and the Control Room on levels 1 and 4, but the space is not partitioned

The western end consists of a gentle ramp that descends from the entrance and gives access to both sides at level 0. The eastern end provides a very large space that can be used to display exceptionally large works of art because of its unusual height.

5- Victoria and Albert Museum

Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Victoria and Albert Museum (often abbreviated as the V&A) in London is the largest museum of applied arts, decorative arts and design in the world, and houses a permanent collection of over 2.27 million objects.

The V&A is located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, in an area known as “Albertopolis” for its association with Prince Albert, the Albert Memorial and the major cultural institutions with which it 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. Like other British national museums, admission is free.

The V&A has an area of 5.1 hectares and 145 galleries. Its collection spans 5,000 years of art, from antiquity to the present day, from the cultures of Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa. However, art from antiquity is not collected in most areas

Interior del Victoria and Albert Museum.

The holdings of ceramics, glass, textiles, costumes, silver, ironwork, jewelry, furniture, medieval objects, sculpture, engravings and prints, drawings and photographs are among the largest and most comprehensive in the world.

The museum has the world’s largest collection of post-classical sculpture, and the Italian Renaissance holdings are the largest outside Italy. The Asian departments include art from South Asia, China, Japan, Korea, and the Islamic world

The East Asian collections are among the best in Europe, with particular strength in ceramics and metalwork, while the Islamic collection is one of 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 £150 million renovation program. The new 17th- and 18th-century European galleries opened on December 9, 2015. These restored the original Aston Webb interiors and house the European collections 1600-1815.

The Young V&A in East London is a branch of the museum, and a new branch in London – V&A East – is being planned. The first V&A museum outside London, the V&A Dundee opened on September 15, 2018.

6- Wallace Collection, London

Wallace Collection en Londres.

The Wallace Collection is a London museum occupying Hertford House in Manchester Square, the former home of the Seymour family, Marquesses of Hertford. It is named after Sir Richard Wallace, who built the extensive collection, together with the Marquesses of Hertford, in the 18th and 19th centuries

The collection includes fine and decorative arts from the 15th to the 19th centuries, with important holdings of 18th century French paintings, furniture, arms and armor, porcelain and Old Master paintings, spread over 25 galleries.

It was created in 1897 from the private collection created primarily by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford (1800-1870), who left both the collection and the house to his illegitimate son Sir Richard Wallace (1818-1890), whose widow Julie Amelie Charlotte Castelnau bequeathed the entire collection to the nation

The collection was opened for permanent public view in 1900 at Hertford House, and remains there to this day. One of the conditions of the bequest was that no objects were to leave the collection, even for loan exhibitions

In September 2019, the trustees announced that they had successfully obtained an order from the Charity Commission for England and Wales allowing them to enter into temporary loan agreements for the first time.

Interior de la Wallace Collection en Londres.

The United Kingdom is particularly rich in ancien régime works, acquired by wealthy families during the revolutionary sales, held in France after the end of the French Revolution

The triumvirate of the Wallace Collection, the Waddesdon Manor and the Royal Collection, all three located in the United Kingdom, is possibly the largest and most important collection of 18th century French decorative arts in the world, rivaled only by the triumvirate of the Louvre Museum, the Château de Versailles and the Mobilier National in France

The Wallace Collection is a non-departmental public body and its current director is Xavier Bray.

7- Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Museo y galería de Arte de Birmingham.

The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BM&AG) is a museum and art gallery in Birmingham, England

It has a collection of international significance covering fine art, ceramics, metalwork, jewelry, natural history, archaeology, ethnography, local history and industrial history.

The museum/gallery is managed by the Birmingham Museums Trust, the largest independent museum trust in the UK, which also manages eight other museums in the city.

Admission to the Museum and Art Gallery is free, but some of the main exhibitions in the Gas Hall are fee-based.

The Art Gallery is noted for its extensive collections of paintings ranging from the 14th to the 21st century. These include works by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the world’s largest collection of works by Edward Burne-Jones.

Interior del museo de Birmingham en Reino Unido.

The antiquities collection includes coins from antiquity to the Middle Ages, artifacts from ancient India and Central Asia, ancient Cyprus and ancient Egypt.

The museum also has 28 pieces of Nimrud ivories from the British School of Archaeology in Iraq, as well as material from classical Greece, the Roman Empire and Latin America. There is also medieval material, much of which is now on display in the Birmingham History Galleries, a permanent exhibition on the third floor of the museum.

In November 2014, a gallery dedicated to displaying the Staffordshire Treasure opened. Discovered in the nearby town of Hammerwich in 2009, it was the largest Anglo-Saxon gold treasure ever found.

In terms of local and industrial history, the tower of Birmingham’s HP Sauce Factory was a famous landmark next to the Aston Expressway, which was demolished in the summer of 2007 The giant logo on top of the tower is now in the Museum’s collection.

8- Warrington Museum and Art Gallery

Museo y galería de arte Warrington.

Warrington Museum and Art Gallery is located on Bold Street in Warrington’s cultural quarter, in a Grade II listed building shared with the city’s Central Library.

The Museum and Library originally opened its doors in 1848 as the first fee-paying library in the UK, before moving to its current premises in 1858. Art galleries were subsequently added in 1877 and 1931

Managed by Culture Warrington, Warrington Museum and Art Gallery has the distinction of being one of the oldest municipal museums in the UK and much of the building’s quintessential character has been retained.

The museum’s collection was originally based on the collection of the Warrington Natural History Society, but has since grown and now includes a wide range of subjects such as ethnology, Egyptology, geology, Roman Britain, pottery and ceramics, botany, fish, amphibians, reptiles, the Civil War, local industries, birds and mammals, and glass.

Interior del museo y Galería de arte de Warrington.

The building also houses a collection of some 1,000 paintings (oils, watercolors, and prints) from the 19th and early 20th centuries, many of which are displayed in the second floor mezzanine art gallery

One of the most famous works in the collection is Walter Langley’s Between The Tides (1901), acquired in 1966.

On the second floor are two temporary galleries, one large and one small, which frequently showcase traveling exhibitions and the work of local artists and community-related events

One exhibit that has received some public attention is the Warrington seal, which was shot at Paddington Lock in 1908, and later given to the Museum. In 1999 James Dickinson repaired the mount, giving it new whiskers “rescued from an old tiger”.

9- Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle

Museo y Galería de Arte Tullie House en Carslile.

Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery is a museum in Carlisle, England. Opened by the Corporation of Carlisle in 1893, the original building is a converted Jacobean mansion, to which extensions were added when it was converted. Initially the building housed the museum as well as a library, art school and technical school.

The building, including the extensions, is Grade I listed, and the wall, gates and railings at the front of the house are Grade I listed separately.

The two schools were moved in the 1950s and the library in 1986. The museum was extended into the city’s Guildhall in 1980 and, with the new space available from 1986, underwent extensive refurbishment during 1989-90 and again in 2000-01.

Since May 2011, the museum has been an independent charitable trust, the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery Trust. It is one of three members of the Cumbria Museum Consortium, along with Lakeland Arts and the Wordsworth Trust. In 2012-15 and 2015-18 this consortium was one of 21 museums or consortia (16 in the previous period) to receive Arts Council England funding as‘Major Partner Museums‘.

The museum has large and eclectic collections of zoological, botanical and geological material. Plant collector Clara Winsome Muirhead worked at the museum in the 1940s and donated a large collection of botanical specimens to the museum.

The fine and decorative arts collections include works by Burne-Jones and other Pre-Raphaelite artists, as well as Stanley Spencer, Winifred Nicholson, Sheila Fell, and Phil Morsman.

10-Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry

Fachada de la Herbert Gallery en Coventry.

Herbert Art Gallery & Museum (also known as the Herbert) is a museum, art gallery, records archive, learning center, media studio and creative arts facility in Jordan Well, Coventry, England.

The museum is named after Sir Alfred Herbert, a Coventry industrialist and philanthropist whose donations enabled the original building to open in 1960. Construction began in 1939, with an interruption for World War II, and the Herbert opened in 1960. In 2008 it reopened after a £14 million refurbishment.

The Herbert is managed by Culture Coventry, a registered charity, and admission is free. Its funding comes from donations, sales in the museum store and rental of the buildings. In 2010, the museum and gallery welcomed over 300,000 visitors, making it one of the most popular free tourist attractions in the West Midlands.

Permanent galleries include sculpture, Old Master paintings, art since 1900, local history and elements (natural history).

Interior de la Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.

Among the museum’s notable collections is a costume collection dating from around 1800 to the present, with an emphasis on 19th century women’s clothing. Currently, the museum is focusing on acquiring more modern clothing and items from different ethnic communities in Coventry.

Another collection represents the city’s history as a ribbon-making center, which includes more than 250 samplers, as well as woven Stevengraphs-a form of square and silk marker-along with dyers’ samples, documents, woven badges, and related machinery.

The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded nearly £200,000 to The Herbert and Wolverhampton Art Gallery in 2008 for acquisitions related to the theme of peace and reconciliation.

In 2011, the museum raised £12,000 to acquire the Coventry Album, a collection of paintings made by William Henry Brooke in 1819. The album is one of Coventry’s most important collections of historic paintings.

If you know of other important art museums in the UK and want to share it with others, leave us a comment with the name of the museum and why you think we should include it in our top

Discover other lists of museums around the world on The Museum Blog:

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