Museum of London

Date Established:

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II opened the Museum of London on 2 December 1976. It was the first new museum building to open in London since the Second World War and attracted 370,000 visitors in its first six months.

The new institution was the marriage of two older museums, the London Museum and the Guildhall Museum. Both had lost their premises during the War: both were devoted to London and each complemented the other - the Guildhall's strengths lay in archaeology, the London Museum's in social history.

The London Museum had opened in 1912. It was a national museum intended to inspire feelings of civic pride about the nation's capital. Thanks to inspired and idiosyncratic directors Guy Laking and Mortimer Wheeler, it went down a more populist path, collecting contemporary items, costume and social history at a time when such objects were not deemed worthy of a museum's attention. The London Museum's last exhibition in 1973 was 'Mary Quant's London', a contemporary subject, typical of the institution.

The Corporation of London had established the Guildhall Museum in the 19th century. The museum's main aim had been to preserve and study the antiquities excavated in a City where there is continual and intense building activity. Throughout the 20th century the Guildhall Museum's archaeological activities developed along professional lines, and its remit extended to the archaeology of Greater London.

Alternate Names

  • Guildhall Museum
  • London Museum

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