A staple for tourists and Londoners alike, the BM is a magnificent resource filled with treasures from all over the world and several points in history but it can also be overwhelming and crowded. Whether you want to navigate the crowds efficiently, learn more about displayed artefacts or be directed straight to the highlights to maximise your time, a tour with one of our British Museum Experts is for you.
The British Museum More-Than-Just-An-Introduction Tour
The first two hours of this tour take you through the highlights of the British Museum’s Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Ancient Greek collections, with added depth provided by your Expert. The final hour is up to you: On this tour you choose your own ending, either Rome and early Britain, Polynesia and Oceania, Africa and Meso-America or India, Japan and China. The ending you choose when you book the tour will determine your Expert guide: each of our experts has a different academic specialism, so you are guaranteed a guide who has an in-depth knowledge of the geographies that you are interested in.
How did we end up here?
A deeper tour of the British Museum
The British museum is a vast hoard of wonders from around the world. Part of the story of each object is its journey from country of origin to the British Museum. Recently the museum world has been questioning this and considering the possibility of redistribution in some cases. As a result, the forgotten histories of colonialism and power struggles in years gone by are being reinserted into world history. This tour tells the ancient myths surrounding objects like the mummies of Egypt, but it also tells the more modern histories of how the objects ended up here, and how they are being conserved.
(Price: £250 per group, Duration: 2hrs 30mins)
Victoria and Albert Museum
Arguably the most famous decorative arts museum in the world, the V&A boasts 6 miles of gallery space with art and design from all continents and many periods of history. The common mistake of the first time tourists is to miss the V&A because of its focus on designed objects rather than painting, but to London culture enthusiasts it is a staple. Commissioned as a labour of love by Queen Victoria herself, the very building is a work of art worth seeing on any trip to London. Our V&A experts have studied and worked within the museum, most often on its joint Design History MA and PhD programmes with the Royal College of Art.
Introduction to the V&A
This specialist tour explores the world through the V&A’s vast collection, from Britain through India, China, Japan and the Middle East. Your Arts Unlocked Expert will also take you chronologically from the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries to Contemporary Design - and by artistic medium – from sculpture to silver, stained glass to textile. You’ll see the building in a new light as its fascinating architectural history is revealed to you. Each expert who leads a V&A tour has worked or studied within it, so allow your V&A specialist to wend their way through time and space with you as they unlock the secrets of these objects, and leave London feeling as though you have seen the entire world. Keywords: Design, British History, World History
(Price £250, Duration: 2.5hrs)
The Master Painters Tour
Our curious Experts love nothing better than wandering through the National Gallery. Its highlights can be difficult to see among the crowds and some of its most engaging works are lesser known paintings, which can be tricky to spot. Your Arts Unlocked Expert will guide you through the National Gallery, sharing their favourites with you. The Master Painters tour covers art from the middle ages to the 20th century, focusing on well-known pieces and our personal favourites, without jargon and with a solid base in historical knowledge. In addition, if there is any area that you would prefer to spend more time on, do let us know in advance via the bookings form and your Expert will be happy to accommodate you.
(Price: £250 per group, Duration: 2.5hrs)
National Portrait Gallery
The favourite gallery of Princess Katherine Duchess of Cambridge, this gem is often mistaken for the National Gallery or overlooked. It is, however, the only London gallery in which works of art have been chosen not for the fame of the artist, but rather for the importance of the sitter. As such, the NPG is a place of stories, from the lives of Henry VIII to Sir Paul McCartney. An Arts Unlocked tour also yields less well-known stories about the paintings themselves and their interesting histories. Many of our Experts have worked, and still work at the NPG, so there is nobody better to show you around!
A History of Britain through portraits
One of the most frequently asked questions at the National Portrait Gallery is “where is the Mona Lisa?” The answer of course, is “Over in France, in the Louvre”. In fact, paintings in the Portrait Gallery have not been chosen not for their Mona Lisa-like fame or because of the artists who painted them, but for the importance of the people represented in them. It is a hall of fame full of people and relationships that have been important to British, and in many cases world, history; from of Henry VIII and his six wives, through Amelia Earhart, Paul McCartney and the Beatles, to Nelson Mandela and the Olympians from 2012's games. Learn more about British history through the portraits displayed here, and see whether you prefer those created by famous artists, or those drawn by the sitters’ friends and relatives.
(Price: £250 per group, Duration: 2.5hrs)