London Museums are Free
By Barbara Ballard
London isn’t the cheapest city in the world, nor is Britain the least expensive country. But Britain’s national museums and art galleries – both new and old – are free, beginning in December 2001.
In the centre of London at Trafalgar Square is the National Gallery, containing one of the world’s finest collections of Western European paintings. Next to it is the National Portrait Gallery, where portraits of the famous, from monarchs to musicians, are on show.
The Victoria & Albert Museum is replete with fine and applied art while the Natural History Museum tells all about dinosaurs. The Science Museum has information on great inventions. The Tate Modern Museum displays modern art in a renovated power station on the banks of the Thames. The large galleries hold the best of modern and contemporary art (Rothko, Picasso, Dali, Hockney, Whiteread and more). Other modern art galleries that are free are the Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives.
The Museum of London, which displays the Lord Mayor’s golden coach, opens its World City Gallery in December with a look at the changes and growth that took place in the city during the 19th century. The displays are complete with reconstructed shop fronts. In northwest England, Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery reopens in February 2002 with an exhibition of paintings by ex-Beatle Paul McCartney happening in May.
The Zandra Rhodes Fashion & Textile Museum opens in London’s Bermondsey Street, near London Bridge, early in 2002. Fashions from the 1950’s to the present are on show.
Two major galleries open in March 2002. At Gateshead near Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England, a massive former flour mill was transformed into the Baltic Centre, a focus for contemporary art and artists. In Manchester, the City Art Gallery reopens after a refurbishment doubled its size. Included is a theatre for decorative arts. More museum highlights include the industrial heritage at Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry and the armour at Royal Armouries in Leeds, Yorkshire.
The National Museums and Galleries of both Scotland and Wales already offer free admission.
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