The British Museum
So important are the collections in the vast neoclassical British Museum that it seems that every schoolchild in the land is required by law to see them firsthand, if its the only one of the museums in London that it will ever see. Our advice is to hire an audio guide to block out their unrestrained awe when they see the Egyptian mummies, the Lindow Man (a peat-preserved 1st-century body) or ‘Ginger’ (a sand-preserved 3,400-year-old man with, yup, ginger hair). Thankfully there are quieter wonders of antiquity, including the Rosetta Stone, that lump of rock dated 196BC that unlocked the code of Egyptian hieroglyphics, and the Elgin Marbles, those friezes and statues c.440BC controversially taken by Lord Elgin from the Parthenon in Athens in 1816 – in fact the British Museum has so much, it’s a wonder what can be left in the countries of origin. Less contentious is Norman Foster’s masterful architecture in the Great Court, Europe’s largest covered square with 3,300 triangular glass panels that shed a magical luminescence onto the pale limestone courtyard, and the domed Reading Room where Lenin, Marx, Dickens and Hardy once studied, and where you can almost hear the sound of silence.