There's nothing better than a museum crammed with artistic treasures to fire up the creative furnace. In a city that continues to thrive on consumerism, recession or not, it's great that there are still so many havens of brilliance and beauty available to anyone who takes the time to look. And London's museums, while being some of the best in the world, don't cost the earth every time we visit them (financially or environmentally.) In fact, a great many of them are free.
Most importantly though, I believe we all need some inspiration, whether we are artists or not. Trying to create without having feasted our eyes on some of the most brilliant art in history is a bit like trying to make a delicious meal when you've never tasted one. You have no point of reference. We all need to create; from choosing a wallpaper, to bringing up our children; life presents us with a constant creative challenge. We need an armory. Trying to make sense of the world, and developing the ability to screen out the mundane (gas bills, house prices, Ant and Dec, Piers Morgan, health gurus, people who talk about their shares in public etc), is harder without cultural capital. Art isn't reserved for the upper and middle classes anymore, it's available to everyone. At the very least it makes us feel better.
Having a young baby means I spend a lot of time walking around, pram pointed in the direction of adventure. Inexpensive adventure. After a while pounding the streets becomes monotonous, not to mention dirty. My baby is too young to care whether or not we are attending "Monkey Music" or "Tactile Soft Play" down the community centre. ( And I certainly lack the sweet tempered patience to tag along and nibble biscuits in a drab collective bound together only be reproductive success. I'll save that until she goes to school.) So for now she might as well babble and coo from her pram, gnawing on a museum guide, while her mother hones her artistic noggin, a heritage she will one day inherit.
Some of My Favourite London Museums and Galleries
The British Museum- http://www.britishmuseum.org/
Geffrey Museum- http://www.geffrye-museum.org.uk/
The National Gallery- http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/
The Wallace Collection- http://www.wallacecollection.org/Sir John Soane's Museum- http://www.soane.org/
V& A- http://www.vam.ac.uk/
Whitechapel Gallery- http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/
(Most of the collections are free in all of the above, with special temporary exhibitions requiring tickets.)
Design Museum- (£8.50/ 6.50 concessions/ 5 students ) http://designmuseum.org/
Aimé-Jules Dalou- Peasant Woman Nursing a Baby 1873- V&A Museum
Iris's reaction to above sculpture.