|Location||City of London, London EC2, England, United Kingdom|
|Public transit access||Barbican 400 metres walk
St. Paul's 500 metres walk
The Museum of London documents the history of London from the Prehistoric to the present day. The museum is located close to the Barbican Centre, as part of the striking Barbican complex of buildings created in the 1960s and 70s as an innovative approach to re-development within a bomb damaged area of the City. It is a few minutes walk north of St Paul's Cathedral, overlooking the remains of the Roman city wall and on the edge of the oldest part of London, known as the City, now the financial district. It is primarily concerned with the social history of London and its inhabitants throughout history. The museum is a non-departmental public body.
The museum was opened in 1976 as part of the Barbican Estate, using collections previously held by the Corporation at the Guildhall and also items from other collections, including the London Museum, which was located in Kensington Palace. The architects were Philip Powell and Hidalgo Moya, who adopted an innovative approach to museum design, whereby the galleries were laid out so that there was only one route through the museum - from the prehistoric period to the modern galleries.
The museum comprises a series of chronological galleries containing original artefacts, models, pictures and diagrams, with a strong emphasis on archaeological discoveries, the built city and urban development and interactive displays and activities for all ages. Fragments of the Roman London Wall can be seen just outside the museum. The prehistoric gallery, "London Before London" and the "Medieval London" gallery have already been updated, and in 2007 a new exhibition on the Great Fire of London opened.
The museum is currently engaged in a £20million redevelopment due to be completed in May 2010. This is its biggest investment since opening in 1976. The re-design, by London-based architects Wilkinson Eyre, will tell the story of London and Londoners from the Great Fire of 1666 to the present day. The transformation includes four new galleries. The new City Gallery features large street level windows along London Wall and provides an illuminated showcase for the Lord Mayor's State Coach, which takes to the streets each November for the Lord Mayor's Show.
The Galleries of Modern London increase the museum's exhibition space by 25 percent and enable the display of 7,000 objects. Star exhibits include a reconstruction of the Victorian Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, the foreboding wooden interior of the Wellclose debtors prison, an art deco lift from Selfridges department store and the puppet stars of BBC children's TV Andy Pandy and Bill and Ben.
The new galleries place a renewed emphasis on contemporary London and contemporary collecting. "World City" is the gallery, which tells London's story from 1950 to the present day. Fashion looms large here - from the stiff and starchy suits of the 1950s, through to the Mary Quant dress of the swinging 60s, hippy chic in the 70s and the bondage trousers and ripped T-shirts of the punk era. And fashion comes right up to date with a pashmina from Alexander McQueen's 2008 collection.
The museum's new Sackler Hall contains a new elliptical curtain where the work of up-and-coming young filmmakers will be screened in a bi-annual Museum of London Film Commission, in association with Film London. The museum's new art gallery "Inspiring London" will display new acquisitions of contemporary prints, paintings and drawings alongside a range of artwork from the museum's existing collection.
The museum is open every day from 10am to 6pm, except 24th-26th December. Entry is free.
In 2003, Museum of London Docklands (formerly Museum in Docklands) was opened in a 19th-century grade I listed warehouse near Canary Wharf on the Isle of Dogs. Museum of London Docklands charts the history of London as a port, beginning 2000 years ago with the Roman trading post set up on the banks of the Thames and following London's expansion into the biggest port the world had ever known. In November 2007, it opened the capital's first permanent gallery examining London's involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, "London, Sugar & Slavery".
Museum of London includes Museum of London Archaeology, which provides archaeological services in London but also does work elsewhere in the UK and abroad. Archaeological findings made by the service and others working in London are archived at the Museum of London Archaeological Archive.
Museum of London, Museum of London Docklands and Museum of London Archaeology are all part of the same group. Since 1 April 2008, the Museum has been jointly controlled and funded by the City of London Corporation and the Greater London Authority. Prior to this the Museum had been jointly controlled by the City of London and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It is headed by a director.