LONDON MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES
British Library Galleries, 96 Euston Rd. ( 7412 7332). Tube: King’s Cross. A stunning display of texts, from the 2nd-century Unknown Gospel to the Beaties’ hand-scrawled lyrics. Other highlights include a Gutenberg Bible and pages from da Vinci’s notebooks. Open M and W-F9:30am-6pm,Tu 9:30am-8pm, Sa 9:30am-5pm, Su llam-5pm. Free.
Museum of London, London Wall, The City of London (7600 3699). Tube: Barbican. Enter through the Barbican. The engrossing collection traces the history of London from its foundations to the present day, with a particular focus on Roman objects. Open M-Sa 10am-6pm, Su noon-6pm; last admission 5:30pm. Free.
Courtauld Institute, Somerset House, The Strand, Westminster ( 7848 2526). Tube: Charing Cross. Small, outstanding collection. 14th- to 20th-century abstractions, focusing on Impressionism. Manet’s A Bar at the Follies Bergbres, van Gogh’s Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear, and Cezanne’s The Card Players. Open M-Sa 10am-6pm. £5, students £4. Free M 10am-2pm.
Natural History Museum, on Cromwell Rd. Kensington (7942 5000). Tube: South Kensington. Cathedral-like building home to an array of minerals and stuffed animals. Highlights include a frighteningly realistic T-Rex and the engrossing, interactive Human Biology gallery. Open M-Sa 10am-5:50pm, Su llam-5:50pm. Free.
Royal Academy of Art, Burlington House, Piccadilly, The West End (7300 8000). Tube: Piccadilly Circus. Founded in 1768 as both an art school and meeting place for Britain’s foremost artists. Outstanding exhibitions on all manner of art. Open M-Th and Sa-Su 10am-6pm, F lOam-lOpm. Around £7; seniors £6, students £5.
Design Museum, 28 Shad Thames, Butler’s Wharf ( 7403 6933). Tube: Tower Hill or London Bridge. This contemporary museum explores the development of mass-market design with a constantly changing selection of objects; most fun are the funky chairs that you can try out. Open daily 10am-5:45pm, last admission 5:15pm. £6, concessions £4.
Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Rd. Dulwich (8693 5254). lOmin. from North or West Dulwich rail station, or bus P4 from Tube: Brixton. Designed by Sir John Soane, this marvelous array of Old Masters was England’s first public art gallery. Rubens and van Dyck feature prominently, as does Rembrandt’s Portrait of a Young Man. Open Su llam-5pm, Tu-F 10am-5pm, Sa llam-5pm. £4, seniors £3. Students and children free; free for all F.
Cabinet War Rooms, Clive Steps, Westminster (7766 0130). Tube: Westminster. The rooms where Churchill and his ministers, generals, and support staff lived and worked underground from 1939 to 1945. Highlights include the small room containing the top-secret trans-atlantic hotline the official line was that it was Churchill’s personal toilet. Open Apr.-Sept. daily 9:30am-6pm; Oct-Mar. 10am-6pm. £7, students and seniors £5.50.
The Gilbert Collection, Somerset House, The Strand ( 7420 9400). Tube: Charing Cross or Temple. Pick up a free audio guide and magnifying glass as you enter-the latter is invaluable for studying the displays of micro-mosaics and ornate snuffboxes. Open daily 10am-6pm. £5, concessions £4. Children free; free to all after 4:30pm.
London’s Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza, The West End (7565 7299). Tube: Covent Garden. Informative and fun. Kids and adults will find themselves engrossed in the history of London’s public transportation system. Open M-Th and Sa-Su 10am-6pm, F llam-6pm. £6, students and seniors £4.50. Under-16 free.
Wallace Collection, Manchester Sq. Marylebone ( 7563 9500). Tube: Bond St. Palatial Hertford House holds a stunning array of porcelain, medieval armor, and weaponry. Open M-Sa 10am-5pm, Su noon-5pm. Free.
Science Museum, Exhibition Rd. Kensington ((0870) 870 4868). Tube: South Kensington. A mix of state-of-the-art interactive displays and priceless historical artifacts, encompassing all forms of technology. Open daily 10am-6pm. Free.
The Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood House (8348 1286). Tube: Hampstead. A large collection bequeathed by Edward Guinness, Earl of Iveagh. The Kenwood setting and the magnificent pictures make it one of London’s finest small galleries. Highlights include works by Botticelli, Rembrandt, Turner, and Vermeer. Open Apr.-Sept. M-Tu, Th, and Sa-Su 10am-6pm; W and F 10:30am-6pm. Oct. M-Tu, Th, and Sa-Su 10am-5pm; W and F 10:30am-5pm. Nov.-Mar. M-Tu,Th, and Sa-Su 10am-4pm; W and F 10:304pm. Free.
Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Rd. South London (7416 5320). Tube: Lambeth North. The commendably un-jingoistic exhibits follow every aspect of war from 1914 on, covering conflicts large and small. The largest and most publicized display, the Holocaust Exhibition, graphically documents Nazi atrocities. Open daily 10am-6pm. Free.
Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), Nash House, The West End (7930 3647). Tube: Charing Cross. Down the road from Buckingham Palace-convenient for attacking the establishment. Open M noon-llpm, Tu-Sa noon-lam, Su noon-10:30pm; galleries close 7:30pm. M-F £1.50, Sa-Su £2.50.
National Maritime Museum, Trafalgar Rd. Greenwich, East London (8858 4422). Docklands Light Railway: Cutty Sark. Broad-ranging, child-friendly displays cover almost every aspect of seafaring history. The naval portraits in the neighboring Queen’s House take second place to Inigo Jones’s architecture. Open June to early Sept. daily 10am-6pm; late Sept. to May 10am-5pm. Free.
Whitechapel Art Gallery, Whitechapel High St. (7522 7888). Tube: Aldgate East. At the forefront of the East End’s art scene, Whitechapel hosts excellent, often controversial, shows of contemporary art. Open Su, Tu-W, and F-Sa llam-6pm, Th llam-9pm. Free.
Sir John Soane’s Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Holborn. Tube: Holborn. Architect John Soane built this intriguing museum for his own art collection. Open Tu-Sa 10am-5pm; first Tu of the month also 6-9pm. Suggested donation £1.
The Hermitage Rooms, Somerset House, The Strand ( 7485 4630). Tube: Charing Cross or Temple. A unique chance to get a taste of the renowned Hermitage art museum without going to St. Petersburg. The paintings are on loan from Russia and are exchanged. Open daily 10am-6pm. £6, concessions £4. Under-16 free.
National Portrait Gallery, St. Martin’s PI. Westminster (7312 2463). Tube: Charing Cross. The artistic Who’s Who of Britain. Began in 1856 as “the fulfillment of a patriotic and moral ideal.” Open M-W and Sa-Su 10am-6pm, Th-F 10am-9pm. Free.
The West End is the world’s theater capital, supplemented by an adventurous “Fringe” and a justly famous National Theatre. New bands spring eternal from the fountain of London’s many music venues. Whatever you’re planning to do, the listings in Time Out (£2.20, every W) are indispensable.