The Wallace Collection holds the biggest ever art collection bequeathed to the nation. The gallery is free to enter, which makes it perfect to drop into quickly if you find yourself near Manchester Square, just a stone’s through away from Oxford Street‘s Selfridges.
Kids will love the armouries, full of Samurai swords, some armour thought to have been worn by Henry VIII (look out for pomegranates, the symbol of Catherine of Aragon, on the armour in the First European Armoury room) and a complete set of armour for a horse. Look out for events where you can try on armour and the more interactive armour areas in the basement.
Tudor fans will also feel at home in the ground floor galleries. The Wallace Collection is home to the only contemporary painting of Hans Holbein, an artist from the time of Henry VIII. Watchers of Wolf Hall may be interested to know that this miniature painting was used as the basis for the character in the TV series.
The Grand Hall is really the main event. Recently renovated, there are more amazing paintings in this room that you can shake a stick at and that’s not even mentioning the beautiful sculptures. The painting to look out for is Titian’s Perseus and Andromeda which everyone thought was a fake for years and so got rather faded while hanging in a bathroom.
The Rococo and Marie Antoinette rooms and the many paintings by Gainsborough and Reynolds (which are great for kids as they so often feature really cute puppies) are well worth seeing. ‘The Swing,’ by Fragonard will be recognised by anyone who loves the Disney movie ‘Frozen’, but allows older kids to take a closer look to see where the naughty man reclining in the foreground of the painting is looking!
Other rooms feature Venetian painters, particularly Canaletto and Dutch Masters such as Rembrandt.
Look out for lots of great family activities, such as drawing workshops or puppet theatre!