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London: The Alternative Museum Guide

In a city brimming with history, where museums are the lifeblood of the tourist industry, it is hard to imagine that London has any unknown charms. But tucked around corners, and off the well-beaten track, are a hidden wealth of curious venues that house even more curious artefacts.

Located in trendy East London, the Geffrye Museum is a far cry from the street-art and café culture of the surrounding area. Located within a set of old alms-houses, the museum now plays host to a timeline of home interiors from 1600 to the present day. From the delicately carved wooden furniture of the Tudor era to the Ikea-esque interiors of the 1990’s, the Geffrye Museum takes you on a literal guide to the home…and in December, they dress the rooms in all their Christmas glory.

As far as oddities go, the Hunterian Museum is the absolute master! If you are a fan of the weird and grotesque, a visit to London wouldn’t be complete without an observation of this dastardly display. Back in 1799, the government purchased the collection of John Hunter, a Scottish surgeon, and presented said collection to the Royal College of Surgeons. The museum displays thousands of anatomical specimens, including the skeleton of the ‘Irish Giant’, Charles Byrne.

In Greenwich, amidst the glory of the Naval College and the Cutty Sark, is a little gem of a museum dedicated to…fans. Yes, fans. The aptly names ‘Fan Museum’ is the UK’s only institution devoted to fans and fan making. Housing over 4,000 antique fans from around the world, the museum also hosts afternoon tea, making the venue a perfect place to retreat from the hustle and bustle of Greenwich Village.

The Sir John Soanes Museum, in the heart of London, is a curious preservation of the lifelong habit of Sir John Soanes. Soanes was a collector, and his home in Holborn is perfectly preserved just as he left it when he died in 1837. Packed to the rafters with artefacts, paintings and sculptures, the museum ranked No 14 in the countdown of ‘Britain’s Secret Homes’ on ITV1.

Advertising touches us all, daily and more often than you think. So it is no surprise that there is a museum devoted to it. Based in Notting Hill, the appropriately named ‘Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising’ delves into the relationship between some of the nations best-loved branding and the general public. The museum features over 12,000 original items, including cereal and baked beans, the space promises to stir your imagination as you encounter bygone packaging that once took pride of place in your kitchen cupboards.

No matter what your taste, London has a museum that will appeal to your imagination. From those mentioned to those not, no other city can match the wealth of history and curious spaces  that London has to offer.

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