London is known for its huge range of museums, from the world-famous to the wacky. This is a quick guide to the best museums in London.
Ever been to the London Anaesthesia Museum? It’ll put you to sleep. And the British Optical Association Museum? It’s hard to see the exhibits. Terrible jokes aside, London does have some weird museums, and some wonderful ones, including:
The Natural History Museum
There are only six known archaeopteryx fossils in the world, and the Natural History Museum has one. Its collection includes nine million fossils, 55 million animals, and 3,200 meteorites. And it’s free.
Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD
The British Library
The Library’s Treasures gallery includes a Gutenberg Bible from the 1450s, the Magna Carta, some early printings of Shakespeare plays, and the Codex Sinaiticus. Dating from AD350 and handwritten in Greek, it is the oldest and most historically important Bible in the world. There’s also a permanent exhibition of stamps, and plenty of temporary exhibitions. Marx wrote much of Das Kapital in the British Library, which gives the building itself historical interest.
If you’re on any English course London wide, this is the perfect place to go: it has quiet reading rooms, and a huge collection - everyone who publishes a book, magazine or newspaper in the UK is legally obliged to send a free copy to the British Library.
96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB
The British Museum
Students at any language school Londonwide will know the name Rosetta Stone because of the helpful but expensive software. It was named after the most useful translation tool ever found. The Rosetta Stone contains the same text in Ancient Greek, Demotic, and Egyptian Hieroglyphs. Its discovery in 1799 meant linguists were finally able to work out what hieroglyphs meant. The stone is at the British Museum, along with mummies, ancient vases, and treasures from all over the world.
Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG
The Freud Museum
Freud and his family fled to London from Austria in 1938 and his house in London is now a museum. The study contains his collection of ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Oriental antiques, as well as the famous couch, which Freud brought with him from Austria. There’s a video room where you can watch footage of the Freuds relaxing at home, and on the landing is a portrait of Freud by Salvador Dali.
20 Maresfield Gardens, NW3 5SX
The Cartoon Museum
From highbrow 18th century satire to the Beano, the Cartoon Museum has over 1,500 drawings on display. It also has a library and animation workshops on school holidays.
35 Little Russell St, WC1A 2HH
The Florence Nightingale Museum
Set in St Thomas’ Hospital on the site of Nightingale’s original nursing school, the museum includes her medicine chest, famous lamp, and her stuffed pet owl, Athena.
2 Lambeth Palace Road, SE1 7EW
And some quirky ones:
The Fan Museum
London has the only museum of fans in the world. It houses 3,500 fans, some dating from the 11th century, and runs “themed exhibitions in which fans are presented in their historical, sociological and economic contexts.”
12 Crooms Hill, Greenwich, SE10 8ER
The Sherlock Holmes Museum
Designed to look exactly like the house described in Conan Doyle’s stories, with museum-style captions explaining what each item is, the Museum is apparently a little too convincing, and “a fair percentage of visitors do believe that the whole set up is for real.”
221b Baker St. London NW1 6XE
The London Sewing Machine Museum
The museum features over 600 sewing machines, including the first one made by Singer, and one owned by Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter, Victoria.
292-312 Balham High Road, SW17 7AA