Everyone knows the museum big hitters; the British Museum, the V&A, the TATE…but did you know that there is a wealth of hugely underrated museums in London?
Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising
If you are a fan of brand nostalgia, a trip to the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising should be on your list of things to do in the city this year. Spanning 120 years of consumerism, culture, design and fashion, the museum presents an expansive collection of cartons, bottles, toys and other types of consumer goods.
Combining a small part of the collection of Robert Opie, whose intention in life was to never throw anything away, the emphasis rests on British consumerism.
Tickets are £7.50 per paying adult. The museum is open daily Tuesday-Sunday, and on Bank Holidays.
Housing one of the oldest collections of anatomical, pathological and zoological specimens in the whole of the UK, the Hunterian Museum’s collection is based on a range of items assembled by John Hunter (1728-93).
The museum’s collection includes thousands of anatomical preparations, fossils, paintings and drawings, and includes such wonders as the skeleton of a 7ft 7in tall Irish man and a collection of carbolic sprays used by Dr Lister, the pioneer of antiseptic surgery. One for the strong stomached!
Based within the Royal College of Surgeons, the museum is open Tuesday-Saturday.
Dennis Severs House
A veritable time capsule in the heart of Spitalfields, the Dennis Severs House is completely unique. The ten rooms of this original house have been decorated to recreate life in Spitalfields between 1724 and 1914.
American creator, Dennis Severs, wanted to take visitors on a still life walking drama tour of this ten roomed, three floor house, and showcase lives of the same family through three different eras. Items are haphazardly scattered around as if the residents have just left the room, adding to the true to life appeal of the system.
Tours are conducted in silence, and as such, children are not welcome. Booking is advised, and tickets cost £10 during the daytime or £14 in an evening.
Pollock’s Toy Museum
Located just off Tottenham Court Road is Pollock’s Toy Museum. You would never know it existed. However, with all its quirkiness, the small museum will appeal to adults and children alike. Housed in two un-restored Georgian townhouses, the collection includes board games, marbles, puppets, toy theatres, dolls and even the world’s oldest surviving teddy bear.
Pollock’s Toy Museum is open daily Tuesday-Saturday, and entrance costs £5.
Charles Dickens Museum
Nestled in an unassuming street in Holborn, not far from Russell Square, is the museum, library and headquarters of the Dickens Fellowship. Set within the walls of the house where Dickens lives from 1837-39, the museum allows visitors a glimpse of Victorian London. Combining reconstructed rooms and gallery space, the building retains original Victorian furniture and fittings.
The museum is open daily and tickets cost £8 per paying adult. Visit the website for more information about the museums regular events, which include costumed tours and candlelit late-openings.
When you think of famous paintings, you automatically think of the National Portrait Gallery or the TATE, however, the Courtauld Gallery within the walls of Somerset House contains a number of world important paintings. Featuring works from Monet, Gauguin, Van Gogh and Kandinsky, this is certainly one gallery not to miss when visiting London.
Entrance is £7, and the gallery is open daily.
The London Library
OK, so not strictly a museum, but the London Library is often referred to as the ‘Rolls Royce of Libraries’. Founded by Victorian writer and historian, Thomas Carlyle, in 1841 the library boasts a distinguished list of members and patrons, including Dickens, Tennyson, Kipling and TS Eliot.
Covering a broad range of subjects, the collection includes millions of volumes of books on 15 miles of open-access shelves. By comparison, the British Library is free but you cannot borrow books, however, for an exclusive membership of £375 a year, the London Library allows you to borrow books for as long as you need them or until another member requests them.
Passes are £10 per day or £50 a week; a day pass is certainly worth it to see and experience the wealth of literature within its walls. However, the library runs free tours of the premises and collections on Monday evenings.