London is chock-full of incredible museums and experiences that everybody should have the opportunity to experience. From the world-famous British Museum to the artsy Leighton House, there are many places that are working to ensure that they are accessible to as many people as possible, including those with visual impairments. Here are our recommendations for top places to go in London for visually impaired travellers.
(WA = Wheelchair Accessible)
The British Museum
The British Museum is home to two million years of human history, art and culture, including one of the most comprehensive and extensive collections in existence. From the Rosetta Stone that unlocked the key to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs to the spectacular Sophilos Vase used for feasting in Ancient Greece in 580 BC, there’s so much to experience. The British Museum is an excellent place to visit in terms of accessibility for visually impaired travellers. You can partake in touch tours for specific exhibitions at the British Museum or opt for an audio descriptive guide free of charge, which provides detailed descriptions of objects and curators’ commentaries. There are also magnifying glasses available to hire (these require a £5 deposit), and guide and assistance dogs are also welcome.
The British Museum | Fitzrovia | WA
The National Gallery
The National Gallery is one for art aficionados, filled with incredible paintings dating from the mid-13th century to the 1900s. It’s a wonderful opportunity to experience some of the most significant artwork ever created by some of the best artists to have ever lived, plus it’s one of the top places to visit in London for visually impaired travellers. They offer a range of facilities and events for partially sighted and blind visitors to ensure that the paintings can be experienced by all. They also provide complimentary carer tickets, which are bookable with each disabled ticket.
The Tower of London
Those with visual impairments don’t have to miss out on the magic of the Tower of London. This fantastic historical site hosts descriptive sessions and tours for visually impaired and blind visitors. Join one of their ‘vocal eyes trained’ wardens as they take you on a magnificent descriptive tour of the site. Prepare to be amazed by the dazzling crown jewels at the world-famous collection of royal items still used in ceremonies today; they remain the most powerful symbols of the British Monarchy and are an integral part of Britain’s culture and history. You’ll also experience the most famous castle in Britain, the White Tower, built in 1097 to deter foreign invaders.
The Natural History Museum
Anyone visiting London cannot miss a trip to The Natural History Museum, a fantastic place to visit in London for visually impaired travellers. This marvellous museum houses 4.6 billion years of the planet’s history via incredible exhibitions and galleries, including over 80 million objects. The museum is accessible to those with visual impairments, offering large print gallery guides for specific exhibitions, and added assistance from staff during your visit. There are audio-described tours of Hintze Hall, the most extensive public gallery in the museum, where Hope, the famous blue whale skeleton, hangs from the ceiling. Audio tours of other exhibitions, like Volcanoes, Human Evolution and Earthquakes, are also available. It’s worth noting that they do welcome guide dogs and assistance animals to the museum.
Natural History Museum | Kensington | WA
Image Courtesy of Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum (IWM) was founded during the First World War and offers an insightful opportunity to learn about the conflict that has taken place from WW1 up to the present day. It’s a great place to visit in London for visually impaired travellers; the museum has partnered with AcessAble to create detailed accessibility guides for each floor of the IWM. The website also offers detailed descriptions of the entrance and exit and general information about seating, lighting and other information that might be helpful for those with visual impairments. They welcome guide dogs and have information points throughout the museum, complete with tactile maps, braille, large print guides and audio descriptions available in particular galleries.
Imperial War Museum | Lambeth | WA
Image Courtesy of Science Museum
The Science Museum
There aren’t many places around the world where you can delve deep into incredible scientific achievements completely for free. The Science Museum is committed to being accessible for everyone, offering a range of facilities to make any trip as seamless and stress-free as possible. On their website, you’ll find sensory maps and a 360-degree tour of the galleries, so that those you might be attending with can help you plan your visit ahead of your trip. They also list the touchable objects and where you can find them throughout the museum. Working guides and assistance animals are welcome at the museum, and large print books are also available across specific galleries and temporary exhibitions. You can pick up a Tactile Map of the museum at the information desk in Energy Hall, level 0 and it’s also worth downloading the AudioEyes app for i0S, which provides audio-only descriptions for key objects and tactile displays.
Science Museum | Kensington | WA
Image Courtesy of Leighton House
Leighton House is another one of the top places to visit in London for visually impaired travellers. This museum, located in the leafy Holland Park area in Kensington and Chelsea, is the former home and studio of the leading Victorian artist Frederic Leighton. It houses everything from fine art and decorative objects to sculptures and more and is a fine example of how a great artist should live. Their website has plenty of accessibility information, and there are large print captions for interpretation panels and magnifying panels available from the Welcome Desk on the ground floor. Assistance animals are allowed in the museum as long as they are kept on a leash and under control, and they also have specific sensory access times for those who would prefer to visit during quiet times.
Leighton House | Kensington | WA