London is the main Britain's tourist attraction. The city is known for its ancient cathedrals, churches and particularly for its art museums and galleries.
The British museum is one of the world's greatest treasure stores. It was founded in 1753 on the collections of Sir Hans Sloane. The money to house them was raised by public lottery. Today the museum has two departments — the Museum of Mankind and the Natural History Museum. The Museum of Mankind includes a vast collection of antiquities, including marbles from the Parthenon, the Rosetta Stone that provided the key to Egyptian hieroglyphics, ancient works of art in stone, bronze and gold, a collection illustrating Western Asiatic civilizations. The Natural History Museum contains five principal collections on the history of plants, minerals and the animal kingdom. A series of new permanent exhibitions has been opened in the museum, among them 'Dinosaurs and their living relatives'.
The National Gallery was founded in 1824 and is one of the greatest museums of art in the world. It is noted for the balance of its collections; all of the important art schools and almost all old Masters are represented there. The rich collection of Dutch masters includes 19 Rembrandts.
Of all London's great art collections, the Tate Gallery is the most rewarding. It does not cover the whole range of art, but has two distinct collections — British painting and a modern foreign collection. The gallery was opened in 1897 and built by the sugar refiner sir Henry Tate. He also gave to it works from his own collection of British paintings. The Tate covers all that is significant in British painting from the 16th century to the present day. It houses superb Constables, some of most important works of William Blake and important 20th century works. It also possesses a unique collection of Turners. The Tate owns more than 280 of his oil paintings. The sculpture collection includes works by Roden, Epstein, Henry Moore.
Victoria and Albert Museum was opened in 1857 by Prince Albert and included the collections of Museum of Ornamental Art. The art collections grew rapidly. Now they include fine and applied arts of all kinds. They chiefly represent European art and the art of the Near and Far East.