What Is London's Biggest Museum?

Harry Rosehill
By Harry Rosehill Last edited 63 months ago
What Is London's Biggest Museum?

There are over 250 museums in the nation's capital. We decided to figure out which is the king of museums — the biggest in all of London.

The British Museum. Photo: James Beard

British Museum

The British Museum covers 18.5 acres — the equivalent of nine football pitches (you've got to do these things in football pitches, haven't you?). Not only is it the largest museum, it's the most visited, squeezing in nearly seven million guests per year. No wonder it's such a hassle getting a glimpse of that Rosetta Stone.

In the collection are roughly eight million objects, but only 1% of these can be shown at any one time. Even with what's on show, it'd take days for the keenest of visitors to give each and every piece attention. If that all seems a bit daunting, you can always liven up your trip by laughing at these objects.

The V&A looking suitably large. Photo: David Bank

Victoria & Albert Museum

Though its collection isn't as large as the British Museum — a paltry 4.5 million objects, pah — the V&A has more on permanent display. Whereas the British Museum has around 80,000 objects on show, its Kensington cousin flaunts 1,197,637 (and almost the same again in books and periodicals).

What makes that statistic even more impressive is that the V&A does this with 6.5 less acres of space than The British Museum.

The V&A's also the only London museum to have a room 101. Although this has nothing to do with George Orwell, a sculpture inspired by Orwell's room 101 did temporarily reside at the museum.

As with the British Museum, the V&A suffers from a perennial lack of space and can't display most of its collection. This problem persists even though it's siphoned off many objects into the Museum of Childhood.

The luxuriously spacious National Gallery. Photo: Albert Jafar

National Gallery

The National Gallery might not be the biggest museum (though it ain't tiny either), but taking the opposite approach to the V&A, we reckon it might have the most space per exhibit. The gallery is 46,396 metres squared (six football pitches if you prefer), but only has around 2,300 exhibits on display — that's including its secret room with 800 paintings alone. In fact the gallery is so profligate with space, it could hold nearly as many double-decker buses as it does paintings. Now TfL knows where to turn when it's running out of depot space...

Last Updated 14 January 2019