21 Unusual Museums

queen crop

So you’ve admired the wind turbine tunnel at the Tate. You’ve ridden an old Routemaster at London Transport Museum and been awed by the size of dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum? Where next?

If you are looking for something a bit more unusual, London has plenty to offer.

Anaesthesia Heritage Centre

There are 25 museums in London covering a range of different aspects of health and medicine. One of the more obscure ones is the Anesthesia Heritage Centre. The centre brings together the Association of Anaesthetist’s archives, museum and library to tell the story of the history of anaesthesia.

The Cartoon MuseumCartoon Pow

The Cartoon Museum focuses on British cartoons and comic art from 18th Century to the present day. They also run a programme of events including classes for adults.

Kirkaldy Testing Museum

This little museum houses a Victorian materials  testing machine and tells the story of the Kirkaldy family who built it. It only opens one Sunday a month so make sure you check their website for details. They are also looking for volunteers, you could spend your Sundays demonstrating the machinery to visitors or even helping with restoration.

Magic Circle Museum

If you ever had secret ambitions to be able to do magic tricks then now might be a good time to inspire yourself and maybe learn a few tricks. The Magic Circle has its own museum dedicated to keeping this mysterious art alive.

Sherlock Holmes Museum

It might seem strange to have a museum devoted to a fictional character but with the Robert Downey Jr films and Benedict Cumberbatch TV series the character remains ever popular.

fan 2Fan Museum

What can I say? This has to be one of the most unusual museums out there, an entire museum

dedicated to fans. Learn all about their history and see exquisite examples.

Canal museum

Here you can see inside the cabin of a narrow boat and learn all about the history of the canal system in London.

Clock Maker’s Museum and Library

Housed in a single room this tiny museum holds 600 British and European watches, 30 clocks and numerous documents on creating timekeeping devices.

Grant Museum of Zoology

Part of University College London (UCL) this is the only remaining university zoology museum in London. It houses skeletons, taxidermy and preserved animals. There is even a Dodo. Weird and wonderful!

Petrie Museum

Another museum that makes up part of UCL’s museums and collections is the Petrie Museum. It houses an estimated 80,000 objects of Egyptian and Sudanese archeology making it one of the largest in the world.

Old Sewing Machine

London Sewing machine Museum

Probably one for real craft enthusiasts as you are likely to spend as much time in the shop as the museum.

Dr Johnson’s House

Famous for compiling A Dictionary of the English Language Samuel Johnson’s other literary works were extremely varied. Visit this small historic townhouse to see prints, paintings, archives and manuscripts.

Colourful yarnFashion and Textile Museum

This museum was founded by British designer Zandra Rhodes and is a centre for contemporary design. There are visiting exhibitions, workshops and courses.

London Fire Brigade Museum

Take a tour around the original Southwark Fire Station and see a unique collection of historical fire engines.

Ragged School Museum

This is a great interactive museum for kids of any age. You can experience the conditions of a Victorian school for poor children. There are activities especially over school holidays.

Smythson Stationery Museum

This museum is so off the grid it doesn’t even have a website. Based at the back of the Smythson Shop on Bond Street there is a small collection of Smythson memorabilia. Frank Smythson started his Bond Street shop in 1887 and supplies the Queen with her personal stationery.

40 New Bond Street, London W1S 2DE. Shop opening hours Smythson Shop

Tennis Ball in shadow

Wimbledon Lawn Association Museum

Wimbledon tennis courts become famous once a year, but you can get your fix of tennis all year round by visiting the Museum and taking a tour.

The Ginstitute

Strictly for adults, a visit here comes with a hefty price tag too so save it for a special occasion, this museum is also an experience. You take a look around the tiny museum learning the history of the London Gin scene and then make your own gin.

Dennis Severs’ House

Another ‘experience’ museum, probably best for adults as you take the tour in silence, is a visit to Dennis Servers’ House. There are ten rooms to explore each one casting a spell on your senses, as though you were stepping inside a painting you interpret the rooms to discover the story of those who lived in the house.

London Bridge tube signActon Depot

Part of London Transport Museum, Acton Depot holds 370,000 items that are not on display in Covent Garden, covering 6000 square metres this is a must for transport enthusiasts.

Horniman Museum and Gardens

There really is a lot to see in this museum, including an aquarium.