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Top Ten Unique London Museums Forget the well-worn tourist traps — make your weekend theatre break in London more memorable with a visit to one of the capital’s lesser-known attractions. From the unique to the downright strange, we investigate some of the niche museums that the city has to offer.
Whether you’re a medical maestro or a just a curious tourist, this incredible collection charts the entire history of sedation and pain relief from age-old instruments through to modern-day methods. Displays date back as far as 1774 and provide an absorbing journey through surgical history. Don’t miss the exhibition outlining anaesthesia misuse, depicting how the abuse of narcotic substances has often led to disaster.
Fan fanatics will find this Greenwich collection truly fascinating! From functional to decorative, this museum is home to over 3,500 antique fans in feather and fabric, and is the only museum of its kind in the world. Don’t miss the Orangery, which overlooks a Japanese-style secret garden with fan-shaped planting beds and oriental features. Enhance your London hotel break with a visit to this fan-tastic museum!
Kirkaldy Testing Museum
Open on the first Sunday of every month, this unique museum houses a vast Victorian testing machine, 47ft 7″ in length and weighing a whopping 116 tons. This huge hydraulic cylinder and ram mechanism was used to test tensile strength on structures and is regularly fired up for visitor demonstrations.
Magic Circle Museum at Centre for Magic Arts
The Magic Circle Headquarters is host to a marvellous museum dedicated to the mastery of magic arts. Glimpse Harry Houdini’s handcuffs among other cherished treasures including props, programs and pictures all related to the art of illusion. Marvel at the history of Chung Ling Soo, shot dead during a performance in 1918, and don’t miss the rifles used in the infamous ‘Bullet Catch’ trick.
British Optical Association Museum
Founded in 1901 and adjacent to Charing Cross Station, this eye-opening museum contains over 16,000 objects relating to the human eye. Learn all about the history of spectacles, monocles, magnifiers and lorgnettes at one of the oldest optical collections in the world, open to the public by prior appointment.
This beautiful building, gorgeously restored to its former glory, was once London’s first home for abandoned children. Filled with memorabilia telling the touching tale of these unfortunate orphans, such as buttons and coins pinned onto their baby clothes, this insightful exhibition provides a poignant passage through the history of the institution.
Museum of Brands
Explore the history of consumer culture with this colossal collection of iconic brands, located just off Portobello Road. Experience the evolution of well-known brands and household names, from Victorian times to the present day in this profusion of packaging and advertising.
Founded in 1814, this is the oldest collection of clocks and watches in the world. Some of the carefully-crafted chronometers and priceless pieces on display date back as far as 1600. Free to enter, this timepiece treasury showcases some 30 custom clocks and 15 monumental marine time-keepers, as well as a wealth of watches from Europe.
Charming and quirky, this multifarious museum boasts an eclectic collection of curios spanning coins and medals and weapons of war to transport, music and science. Housing the diverse cache collected by the Cuming family, this Southwark repository offers lots of interactive activities for little visitors, including crafts, games and dressing-up.
Grant Museum of Zoology
This magnificent menagerie is packed full of skeletons, stuffed animals and preserved specimens from the animal kingdom. Don’t miss the 19th century carved glass sea creatures, or skeletons of extinct creatures like the quagga and Tasmanian tiger plus a genuine box of dodo bones!
This post is written by Show & Stay, who are the providers of theatre breaks in London.