History of the Museum
The Museum of London is an amalgamation of two earlier museums: the Guildhall Museum, founded in 1826 and the London Museum founded in 1912. Both collections came together after the second world war. The new Museum of London opened in 1976.
The Guildhall Museum was largely archaeological. Its first acquisition was a fragment of Roman mosaic from Tower Street in the City of London. The London Museum had wider interests, collecting modern objects, paintings, and costumes alongside archaeology.
Since 1976 the Museum of London has operated as a social and urban history museum, but maintains its archaeological interests, particularly through its commercial archaeology service, MOLA.
It continues to occupy its original building but opened a second public site in 2003, Museum of London Docklands housed in a Grade I listed warehouse at Canary Wharf.
The Museum’s Timeline
Guildhall Museum opens in the City of London, moving in 1872 to new premises at the Guildhall.
The London Museum opens at Kensington Palace, moving in 1914 to new premises in Lancaster House.
Both museums close during the Second World War. The London Museum reopens in 1951 in Kensington Palace; the Guildhall Museum in 1955 in the Royal Exchange.
The Museum of London Act amalgamates the two collections under a new Board of Governors, representing the three funding authorities: national government, the Corporation of London, and the Greater London Council.
The Museum of London is opened by Queen Elizabeth II. Its new building is designed by architects Powell & Moya.
A second Museum of London Act expands the museum’s functions and changes its funding framework, following the abolition of the GLC.
Mortimer Wheeler House, a former warehouse in Hackney, becomes the museum’s main store and subsequently its archaeological hub.
Museum of London Docklands opens
National government’s interest in the museum passes to the Greater London Authority.
For further information, see the Museum’s official history: ‘The Treasury of London’s Past’, Francis Sheppard, Museum of London 1991.