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Free Guided Tours of London Museums and Galleries

Most major London museums and galleries offer free guided tours of their collections.

The tours are ideal if you don’t have much time and want to get the most out of your visit. Even if you have time to spare, most of them are worth doing anyway.

For most tours, you don’t need to book in advance — just turn up and wait at the meeting point. Tickets must be collected from the information desks for the Museum of London tour.

British Museum

Eye-opener tours

Their eye-opener tours show you the highlights of some of the most important rooms in the museum.

11am – Japan, Room 32
11.15am – Roman Britain, Room 49
11.30am – Ancient Greece, Room 17
11.45am – Ancient Iraq, Room 56
12 noon – Africa, Room 24
12.30pm – Enlightenment Gallery, Room 1
1pm – Mexico, Room 27
2pm – Art of the Middle East, Room 34
2.15pm – World of Money, Room 68
2.30pm – Ancient Eygpt, Room 64
2.45pm – Medieval Europe, Room 41
3.15pm – Ancient Rome, Room 70
3.45pm – Assyrian Reliefs, Room 6

When: Daily
Duration: 30-40 minutes
Meeting point: Meet at the room

Spotlight tours

20-minute tours on Fridays when the museum is open until 8.30pm.

5pm & 5.30pm – The Parthenon, Room 17
6.30pm & 7pm – The Enlightenment, Room 1
5pm & 5.30pm – The Rosetta Stone, Room 1
6.30pm & 7pm – Death in Ancient Egypt, Room 64

When: Friday
Duration: 20 minutes
Meeting point: Meet at the room

Tate Modern

Free 45-minute introductory tours of the collection’s highlights.

11am – Artists and Society
11.30am – Between Object and Architecture
12pm – In the Studio
12.30pm – Performer and Participant
2pm – Materials and Objects
2.30pm – Louise Bourgeois (30 minute tour)
3pm – Media Networks: Pop! Art Everywhere
3.30pm – Living Cities

When: Daily
Duration: Approximately 45 minutes
Meeting point: Varies according to tour. Check the link above.

National Gallery

A 60-minute taster tour focuses on 5-6 paintings in the collection.

When: Daily
Times: 11.30am & 2.30pm (also at 7pm Friday)
Duration: 1 hour
Meeting point: Sainsbury Wing Information Desk

Tate Britain

Four tours a day cover a different themes. The 3pm tour covers the Turner collection.

11am – The Growth of British Art
12pm – People and places of the 19th century
2pm – Becoming Modern: Art to the present day
3pm – The paintings of JMW Turner

When: Daily
Duration: Approximately 45 minutes
Meeting point: Top of Manton Foyer stairs

Art in Focus, a lunchtime talk at 1.15pm, focuses on one painting each month

When: Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday
Duration: Approximately 15 minutes
Meeting point: Check at the Information Desk




V&A

Introductory tour

The Victoria & Albert’s one hour introductory tour focuses on the highlights of the collection and the history of the museum.

10.30am
12.30pm
1.30pm
3.30pm

When: Daily
Duration: 1 hour
Meeting point: Meeting Point, Grand Entrance

Other V&A tours

The V&A has several tours that focus on particular galleries and collections; Medieval & Renaissance galleries – a collection of treasures telling the story of European art from 300-1600, the recently opened Europe 1600-1815 galleries, their theatre and performance collection and the British Galleries – a brilliant collection of British art and design.

11.30am – Medieval & Renaissance galleries
12noon – Europe 1600-1815
2pm – Theatre & Performance tour
2.30pm – British Galleries tour

When: Daily
Duration: 1 hour
Meeting point: Meeting Point, Grand Entrance

National Portrait Gallery

There are no free tours at National Portrait Gallery. They have a 30-minute ‘Portrait of the Day’ talk every day.

When: Daily
Times: 12.30pm
Duration: 30 minutes
Meeting point: Varies. Check the events calendar.

Science Museum

The Science Museum offer 30-minute tours covering the history of flight, the Space Race and a tour of The Making of the Modern world gallery which houses 150 of the most important items in the collection:

The Flight Gallery tour
Exploring Space gallery tour
Making of the Modern World gallery tour

When: See the events calendar for details.
Duration: 30 minutes
Meeting point: Tours start in the relevant gallery. Check availability with staff at the information desk.

Museum of London

There are tours of the permanent galleries every day. The tours vary — check with the information desk in the foyer on the day.

When: Daily
Times: Check at the information desk
Duration: 1 hour
Meeting point: Museum foyer
Notes: Tickets need to be collected from the information desk

Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection’s highlights tour covers the history of Hertford House, its former occupants and the best pieces in the collection.

When: Daily
Times: Monday–Friday 2.30pm, Saturday & Sunday 11.30am & 2.30pm
Duration: 1 hour
Meeting point: Front State room

Royal Academy

Free guided tours of the John Madejski Fine Rooms and selected works from the Royal Academy collection. Covers the history of the Royal Academy and Burlington House

When: Check website for days
Times: 12–1pm
Duration: 1 hour
Meeting point: Entrance hall




Last updated: 19 January 2017