Ten military museums

  • 23 August 2011

War - what is it good for? Judging by our top ten military museums, everything from fine art and poetry to comic books and toy soldiers.

Whether you prefer Spitfires to spears or lances to Lancasters, our top ten has something for everyone. Best of all, entry to each of our top ten is free with your National Art Pass. Say it again!

1. Imperial War Museum, London
50% off exhibitions with National Art Pass

With a Spitfire, a V2 rocket and a 1918 tank among its exhibits, the Imperial War Museum in London has some of the greatest military icons since 1914 in its collection. Don't miss the museum's collection of medals, which includes 48 Victoria Crosses and 31 George Crosses.

2. Royal Armouries, Leeds
Free to all

Britain's national museum of arms and armour has an impressive collection of military equipment from 600 BC to the present day. What's more, it has dedicated galleries for oriental armour, tournaments, hunting and self defence - not to mention a crossbow range and adventure zone!

3. Royal Air Force Museum, London
Free to all

Featuring over 250 aircraft, the RAF Museum's collection is one of the largest and most significant in the world. Alongside ubiquitous Spitfires and Hurricanes can be found prototypes for the Tornado and experimental planes including the Bristol 188.

4. Royal Naval Museum, Hampshire
Free entry with National Art Pass

If a Life Mask taken from Nelson's face and a World War II Enigma Machine aren't enough to pique your interest, visitors to the Royal Naval Museum can also try their hands at commanding a 74-gun ship or Merlin helicopter on the museum's simulators.

5. National Army Museum, London
Free to all

From a 40-square-metre model of the Battle of Waterloo to an impressive gallery of military art, the National Army Museum has something for all tastes. Conflicts of Interest, a permanent gallery exploring wars from 1969 to the present, was long-listed for the Art Fund Prize 2010.

6. Aldershot Military Museum, Hampshire
Free entry with National Art Pass

Aldershot tells the story of daily life for soldiers and civilians since 1854. Its impressive collection of military vehicles, displayed both in the Montgomery Gallery and outside the museum, features everything from a 1904 Field Gun to a Challenger 1 tank from 1981.

7. National War Museum, Edinburgh
Free to all (with paid entry to Edinburgh Castle)

The National War Museum is home to over 400 years of Scottish military history. Highlights in the collection range from the stunning Seringapatam Sword to Bob the Dog, the stuffed regimental pet of the Scots Fusilier Guards.

8. Royal Armouries, Tower of London
Free to all

With 500 years of royal armour in its collection, the Royal Armouries at the Tower of London offers not just an amazing display of craftsmanship, but an insight into the lives and personalities of kings from Henry VIII to James II.

9. Royal Marines Museum, Hampshire
Free entry with National Art Pass

Collecting over a million photographs and documents and 30,000 objects exploring the history and lives of the Royal Marines, there's no better place to learn about those who've served in Britain's marine corps than the Royal Marines Museum.

10. Redoubt Fortress and Military Museum, Eastbourne
Free entry with National Art Pass

Set in a fortress built to defend Britain from Napoleon's forces and garrisoned as recently as World War II, museums don't get much more military than the Redoubt. With artefacts spanning three collections, including a bugle from the Charge of the Light Brigade, Redoubt is well worth a visit.

Tags: What to seeMuseums and galleriesGreat days out