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 Grand Museums 
Certainly one of the world's ultimate cultural and educational bargains, the colossal British Museum in Bloomsbury has been free to public viewing since 1753, and now houses some 7 million objects from around the world spanning 2 million years of human history. An added attraction since December 2000 is the Great Court, a 2-acre inner courtyard enclosed by a modern glass roof, with a charming restaurant and the museum's gloriously restored 19th-century Reading Room at the center. Given the extraordinary diversity and abundance of exhibits, consider spending some time studying the museum Web site (www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk) beforehand, and sketch out some plans about what galleries you most want to see. The galleries are open daily except major holidays from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (until 10:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays), with no admission charge except for some special exhibitions. The Great Court is open Sunday through Monday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Information: Official Site,
More Museums
London's impressive roster of top museums also includes the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square, focusing on Western art from the Middle Ages through the end of the 19th century (www.nationalgallery.org.uk); the extensive collections of great works by British artists at the Tate Britain and its sister museum, the marvelous new Tate Modern housed in a former power plant on the south bank of the Thames (www.tate.org.uk); the multifaceted Victoria & Albert museum of decorative arts in South Kensington (www.vam.ac.uk); plus a delightful Science Museum (www.sciencemuseum.org.uk) and neighboring Natural History Museum (www.nhm.ac.uk), also in South Kensington.

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