Ten military museums

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

Exterior view of the front of IWM Main building

IWM London (Imperial War Museums)

With a Spitfire, a V2 rocket and a 1918 tank among its exhibits, IWM London houses some of the greatest military icons since 1914. The displays reveal what it is like to live through conflict, covering such themes as espionage and life on the home front. Don't miss the excellent collection of modern and contemporary art. The museum was one of the finalists in the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2015.


Royal Armouries Museum

  • West Yorkshire
  • 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!


Royal Air Force Museum London

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.


National Museum of the Royal Navy Portsmouth

If a life mask taken from Nelson's face and a World War II Enigma Machine aren't enough to pique your interest, you can also try your hand at commanding a 74-gun ship or Merlin helicopter on the museum's simulators.


Gurkha Museum

The story of the service of Gurkhas began in 1814 with the Nepal War between the British East India Company and the warlike Nepalese, and Gurkha soldiers ended up by serving the British crown for over 200 years. The museum celebrates their bravery as well as the customs, beliefs and dress of their native Nepal.


Aldershot Military Museum

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.


National War Museum

  • Free to all

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.


Royal Armouries

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.


Royal Marines Museum

With a collection of 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.


Redoubt Fortress and Military Museum

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, it is well worth a visit.

"Art Fund" is the operating name of the National Art Collections Fund, a charity registered in England and Wales (209174) and Scotland (SC038331)