10 of London’s Top Artefacts And Art Works

1: Dippy The Diplodocus – Natural History Museum
This huge 292-bone life-size skeleton cast, affectionately known as Dippy, is the star of the museum, not to mention countless films including Paddington. When the original fossil was found in 1898, it was described as the ‘most colossal animal ever on Earth’. After more than a century in the museum, Dippy is to be replaced by the skeleton of a blue whale in the central hall, so take this chance to see him in London before he goes on tour next year. Natural History Museum

Routemaster2: Routemaster Bus – London Transport Museum 
Nothing says you’ve arrived in London quite like the sight of a red double-decker Routemaster bus. These days, the old Routemasters have been withdrawn to make way for more modern versions of the original design, but visitors to the London Transport Museum can still get up close to the famous 1954 prototype. See this national treasure plus the buses that came before and after. You’ll also find the world’s first underground steam train and exhibits celebrating London’s pioneering transport design. London Transport Museum

3: Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds (To 27 Nov) – The British Museum 

For more than a thousand years, the cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus lay hidden, submerged at the mouth of the River Nile in Egypt. But now, thanks to advances in technology, they have been meticulously excavated and 200 spectacular finds are on display. This is The British Museum’s first major exhibition of underwater archaeology. ‘It gives unique insights into a fascinating period in history during which Egyptians and Greeks encountered each other on the shores of the Mediterranean,’ says co-curator Franck Goddio, President of Institut Européen d’Archéologie Sous-Marine (IEASM), who led the archaeological dig that began in 1996.

‘It lets us share the results of years of work at the sunken cities and our fascination for ancient civilisations.’ What did they find? Sacred offerings, fine metalware, gold jewellery and colossal sculptures are among the objects recovered from the sea bed, astonishingly well-preserved thanks to their underwater environment over the past millennium. Elsewhere in the museum, you’ll find ancient objects from the largest Mediterranean island in (to 14 Aug), plus the Rosetta Stone, 12th-century Lewis chessmen and Parthenon sculptures. No wonder The British Museum is the capital’s most popular attraction. The British Museum

4: Sunflowers By Vincent Van Gogh – The National Gallery 
‘I am hard at it, painting with the enthusiasm of a Marseillais eating bouillabaisse,’ wrote van Gogh in 1888 while creating four paintings of sunflowers that he intended to give to his hero, Paul Gauguin. ‘If I carry out this idea there will be a dozen panels. I am working at it every morning from sunrise on, for the flowers fade 
so quickly.’ Bright, optimistic and full of joy, it is the picture Van Gogh was most proud of, painted just two years before he tragically had a nervous breakdown and died. The National Gallery

5: V1 Flying Bomb And V2 Rocket – Imperial War Museum 
Unleashed by Nazi Germany during World War II to wreak death and destruction, these massive missiles killed more people during their manufacture than they did on British soil. After the war, the creator of the V2 rocket, Wernher von Braun, was relocated to the US along with hundreds of other German scientists and engineers as part of Operation Paperclip. He went on to invent a very different kind of rocket – the Saturn V, which propelled the first men on to the Moon. Imperial War Museum

Charles Dickens' Desk6: Charles Dickens’ Writing Desk – Charles Dickins Museum 
See the desk and chair where one of history’s greatest writers wrote Great Expectations and his final, unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood. At one point last year, it looked unsure whether the museum would save the desk from public auction, but a £780,000 grant secured its future at 48 Doughty Street, or ‘my house in town’ as Dickens referred to it. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and scents of the storyteller’s only remaining London home. Dickens Museum

7: Oliver Cromwell’s Death Mask – Museum of London 
England wasn’t always ruled by a monarchy. Between 1653 and 1658, a former gentleman farmer and war hero named Oliver Cromwell rose to Lord Protector of the Commonwealth. Despite having no crown, he had the same powers as a king. A puritan, he famously abolished Christmas while also paving the way for British democracy. In 1658 he died of natural causes and within two years the monarchy was restored. See a plaster cast of his face at the museum. There is also a statue of him outside the Houses of Parliament. Museum Of London

8: The Three Dancers By Pablo Picasso – Tate Modern 
An explosion of energy leaps off the canvas as you stand in front of this enormous, iconic work depicting three people caught in a tangled and macabre dance. Painted in 1925, it marked Picasso’s entry into Surrealism and a period in which he explored disturbing depictions of the female form. Who are the dancers? Some say they represent three of his close friends who were caught in a tragic love triangle that ended in a suicide. This painting is part of the new collection at the recently expanded Tate Modern – one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the world. Tate Modern

9: Puffing Billy – Science Museum 
Constructed in 1813 to haul coal wagons from a mine to the docks in Northumberland, Puffing Billy is the world’s oldest surviving steam locomotive. Although Billy could only travel at 6mph, it hauled seven times more coal than a horse could, kick-starting the development of the rail industry. Within years, steam railways criss-crossed the UK. Marvel at Billy in all its glory and see if you can spot the features that influenced later trains. Science Museum

10: Nelson’s Trafalgar Coat – National Maritime Museum 
See the actual uniform Admiral Nelson was wearing when he fought in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Although Nelson succeeded in halting Napoleon’s plan to invade England, he paid for the victory with his life. On his coat, you can see the fatal bullet hole left by the French sharpshooter as well as blood stains on the tails. Nelson survived just long enough to find out the English navy had been successful. He died below deck on HMS Victory, which you can visit in Portsmouth. National Maritime Museum

London Planner London Planner London Planner

The Latest Social Stories