Old Vic – Waterloo Road
While Drury Lane may have a familiar name, no theatre has the charisma of the Old Vic. It began as the Royal Cobourg Theatre in 1833 becoming the Royal Victoria in 1833.
It was a music hall until Lillian Baylis took over as manager. It soon became from 1914 until 1923 the premier place to see the works of William Shakespeare.
In the 1960s, the Old Vic became the base for the National Theatre. Finally, in 1997, it achieves a form of stability. A trust was set up. This was followed by the establishment of the resident Old Vic Theatre Company in 2003.
The Old Vic still offers the works of Shakespeare. They are also part of the Bridge Project. The Old Vic continues to provide its audience with quality productions. It is still a fine, grand dame in London town.
Science Museum – South Kensington
The Science Museum has been in existence since the year following the Great Exhibition of 1851. It took up residence in its rather current plain home behind the Natural History Building in 1928.
With renovations over the year and constant attention paid to the science of science and technology, this museum has quickly become a favorite among the old and young alike.
There is not only so much to see, there is a lot to do. Sit down and watch a movie at the 450-seat IMX cinema in the Wellcome Wing or take a ride in any of the simulators on the 3rd floor.
The museum contains the real Apollo 10 capsule as well as a Launch Pad Gallery an Energy Hall and a charming exhibit called “The Secret Life of the Home.” Technology is the subject and forms the displays. It is a delightful way to learn and experience science at so many levels. The museum is a popular spot. Be prepared for crowds and line-ups.
Tate Britain – Millbank
This gallery first opened in 1897. The source of the paintings was the collection of Sir Henry Tate. After a disastrous period in 1928 when flooding destroyed several valuable works and damaged others, the museum undertook renovations and advancements to prevent such a re-occurrence.
Sir James Stirling designed a post-modernist entryway. In 2001, John Miller and partners undertook a serious redevelopment. The new building, like the Tate Britain, has not been without controversy.
The focus of the Tate Britain is, not surprisingly, British art. It covers the period from the 16th into the 221st century. International modern art is now found at the Tate Modern.
The Clore Galleries are the home to many of the great works by landscape Romantic artist, J. M. Turner. In the rest of the rooms, British art parades through time. Thomas Gainsborough slides into Hogarth then moves into Blake and William Powell Frith before revealing John Singer Sargent, Jacob Epstein, Francis Bacon and Hockney.
There are works by the School of London Painters of the 1970s as well as those by the Young British Artists. Several centuries of some of the best of British art are on display for all to enjoy.
Theater Museum – Covent Garden
The Theatre Museum is a subterranean theatre world. There are collections of theatre memorabilia including playbills, historic programs and props. You can see costumes and paintings of long gone actors. The Main Gallery depicts the evolution of English theatre from the time of Shakespeare. It is not all musty and dusty paper items. There are several interactive exhibits and activities for children to enjoy.
Theatre Royal Drury Lane
The first theatre on this site rose in 1633. It was a time when women could appear on the stage. Among them was the voluptuous and talented Nell Gwynne. She was both an actress and the mistress of King Charles II.
The famed actor-manager, David Garrick, took it in hand in 1747 introducing novel measures to the practice including banning the wealthy from their customary seats on the stage and insisting the actors rehearse seriously for a play.
In the 1800s, the present theatre rose designed by Benjamin Wyatt. It was a period of pantomimes. After WWII, the theatre took a new turn. It became, and still is, the home of musicals. As the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, it is home to the best-known auditorium in London. If you attend a performance, notice the existence of 2 Royal boxes.
It was originally intended to separate George III from his son – the next king. If you wish, you can arrange to take a backstage tour to learn more about the theatre and its role in the development of English theatre practices.
The Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert (V & A) is home to among the most varied range of art and design objects – applied arts. It consists of the British Galleries with their made-in-Britain crafts from 1500 to 1760 and 1760 to 1900.
Silver pieces in all shapes and forms fill the Silver Galleries. There is also the wonderful Fashion Gallery. Here, you will find everything that made Europe fashionable over the ages. You can wonder through the Sculpture Gallery, the China Gallery or the South Asia Gallery.
The V & A resides in a building constructed between 1857 and the 1880s. It is in the Kensington style, utilizing terracotta in a distinctive ornamental style. The architects were Captain Fowke and Godfrey Styles also have responsibility for much of the interior design work. Lavish use of iron and glass marked the building off from others of its period.
Wrought iron joined arcades and frescoes by Leighton to create a unique structure both inside and out. Yet, some aspects grew without an overall sense of harmony as sections were added as needed. Aston Webb was to attempt to address this issue in the 1880s. The work was finally completed and opened in 1909 by King Edward.
If you cannot find a museum you like in London, you are unlikely to find it anywhere else in the world. The city is home to a diverse composition of museums that cover fine art, applied art and the sciences. You can visit the Alexander Fleming Museum at St. Mary’s Hospital or the Museum of Rugby at Twickenham Stadium.
There is National Army Museum (Royal Hospital Road), as well as the Pollock’s Toy Museum (1 Scala Street), the Musical Museum (High Street, Brentford) and the London Canal Museum (King’s Cross).
There are museums dedicated to preserving the history of many aspects of London alone. There are also national and international galleries and museums. There are also theatres offering the best entertainment possible. With all this at your fingertips, it would be virtually impossible to see them all in a month, several months or even a year.