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Monday, 19 May 2014

London museums for sun worshippers

The weather is getting warmer and suddenly it seems impossible to walk in central London without dodging your way through the crowds spilling out of the pubs. City dwellers plan their weekend around BBQs, picnics in the park, rooftop bars and beer garden lounging. But just because you want to worship the sun doesn't mean you can’t still visit museums! There are plenty of places in our fair city where you can take in art and history and get a tan.

 So here are the Ministry’s top museum spots for summer days. 

A view of the Thames from the Chelsea Physic Garden
Chelsea Physic Garden: Visit one of London's outdoor treasures at the Chelsea Physic Garden. Founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries to help train apprentices in identifying medicinal plants. You can still learn more about the intersection between botany and health by visiting their new garden of medicinal plants. 

V&A: Yes we know this is a traditional museum, but you can take a break from wandering the endless corridors with a stop in the Italianate central courtyard. Is it a playground? Is it a bar? Is it a pool? It's hard to tell with all the hipster lounging around with the beers, trying not to look too annoyed by the kids gleefully splashing through the central pool. However you use it, the John Madejksi Garden is a glorious location to soak up the sun in between exhibitions.

Open air cocktails at the Midnight Apothecary, the Brunel Museum. 
Brunel Museum: This museum has made a name for itself in the past year with its incredibly popular Midnight Apothecary cocktail bar. Gather around the central fire pit and grab a delicious cocktails made with enough medicine sounding ingredients to convince yourself its good for you. So stop by on a Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon for a drink, plus a chance to learn more about the great engineer himself, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. 

Chatham Dockyard: Not really in London, but still worth a mention for a genuinely epic outdoors museum experience. The historic dockyard at Chatham brings maritime history to life by letting you explore historic buildings and dry docks and have a look at actual vessels including the HM Submarine Ocelot. Plus, since the opening of No.1 Smithery you can also check out some of the National Maritime Museum's treasures in a gorgeously designed gallery. Worth the trip on the train!

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: We know what you are thinking, and yes Kew Gardens is a museum. Just like the London Zoo is a museum. Basically anything with labels where you go to learn is a museum. You probably already had Kew on your list of great London things to do in the sun, but why not re-iterate it here? The greenhouses, the pagoda, the fountains, the flowers- a sunny day standby. 

Serpentine Gallery: Take a stroll through Kensington Gardens to find your way to that oasis of modern art, the Serpentine Gallery. It's the place to be this summer with Marina Abrambovic performing in the gallery spaces from June. 

Royal Museums Greenwich: Sprawled across picturesque Greenwich - museum hopping on a sunny day is the perfect way to see the Royal Museums. The National Maritime Museum, the Cutty Sark, the Royal Observatory and the Queen's House all form a part of this heritage trail. Sun yourself on board the ship or straddle the meridian line but if it all seems like a bit too much too much walking, take a break on the steep climb up to the Observatory and relax  in Greenwich Park and gaze at the view over the Thames. 

Hampton Court Palace: Last but not least, London's very own sprawling seat of royal power at Hampton Court Palace. You may not necessarily think of Hampton Court as being very out-doorsy but you spend a suprising amount of time walking its narrow alleys and courtyards getting around the exhibitions. Plus, it's surrounded by 60 acres of gardens including William III 18th century maze- one of the most famous in England! 
Get lost at Hampton Court

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