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Unusual Museums of London

LONDON…The seat of royalty….a land of culture….an epitome of class and sophistication….the cradle of fashion….a country that celebrates civilization, panache, poise,… and quirk! YES, you read it correctly. This regal city has as much weirdness to offer as it has a glorious history to boast about. Today let me take you on a one of a kind journey to the weirdest of museums that uphold the most unusual of the exhibits and ideas…

 

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC BY-SA 3.0

London boasts of many world-famous museums hogging the itineraries of travelers and being weekend hang out for locals & visitors alike. But London’s cornucopia of lesser-known museums is no less vast. They’re not typically the usual choice for newer visitors to the city, but these unique London museums offer an ideal way to learn about lesser-known artifacts, delve into the history of the unconventional facets of London, and to explore some of the city’s peculiar corners. From creepy old dolls to jars filled with pickled moles, scratch a little under the surface and you will discover some of the city’s more unusual exhibits. 4000-year-old mice, giant skeletons, an accidentally overstuffed Walrus, 19th-century medical implements, ….the list goes on…Sounds bizarrely tempting?  Without further ado, let us embark on our journey to appreciate London’s greatest idiosyncrasies.

Old Operating Theatre, London Bridge:

Photo by MykReeve. License: CC BY-SA 3.0

The Old Operating Theatre was used as an operating space for the deathly sick interned at St. Thomas’s Hospital in the 1800s. During those times, primitive medical equipment and unavailability of effective anesthesia (even before the discovery of anesthetics) made invasive surgeries like amputations terrifying ordeals for patients. Novices would sometimes hack and chisel at mangled body parts for a longer time. Staff talks on the theatre bring the innocuous space to gruesome life. The theatre is accompanied by an exhibition about medical equipment and practices of the Victorian period. The unique atmosphere of the place is guaranteed to make you vicariously experience the gore!

Address: 9a St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY, UK

Hours:
Saturday 10:30am–5pm
Sunday 10:30am–5pm
Monday 2–5pm
Tuesday 10:30am–5pm
Wednesday 10:30am–5pm
Thursday 10:30am–5pm
Friday 10:30am–5pm

Tickets: £ 3–7

Websitewww.oldoperatingtheatre.com

Phone: +44 20 7188 2679

Hunterian Museum, Holborn

Photo by StoneColdCrazy. License: CC BY-SA 2.5

The Hunterian Museum in Holborn draws from the collection of 18th-century surgeon John Hunter and is among the most thorough anatomical and pathological displays in the country. An excellent learning resource for medical students, the well-organized exhibition space is equally appealing to casual visitors. On display are various medical oddities, at times lurid and often fascinating. Of the most famous artifacts, the skeleton of the 7’ 7” giant Charles Byrne stands out, while other bizarre exhibits include Winston Churchill’s dentures, diseased human remains in jars, and a tooth of an extinct giant sloth.

Address: 35-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Holborn, London WC2A 3PE, UK

Website: Hunterian Museum

Phone: +44 20 7405 3474

Grant Museum of Zoology

Photo by Laika ac. License: CC BY-SA 2.0

This museum is housed within the University College London. Best described as a labyrinth of animal oddities, this museum of sorts is jammed with extinct specimens, skeletons and vials preserving species. This quirky museum is a hit with students and tourists alike. Admission is free; innovative temporary exhibitions render complex scientific & academic debates engaging & accessible, and in the process enrich the experience of the main exhibition.

Address: Rockefeller Building, 21 University St, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 6DE, UK

Hours:
Saturday 1–5pm
Sunday Closed
Monday 1–5pm
Tuesday 1–5pm
Wednesday 1–5pm
Thursday 1–5pm
Friday 1–5pm

Tickets: free

Websitehttps://www.ucl.ac.uk/culture/grant-museum-zoology

Phone: +44 20 3108 9000

The Crime Museum, New Scotland Yard

Photo by régine debatty. License: CC BY-SA 2.0

Of all the London’s grisly repositories, probably the Crime Museum could easily be voted the most morbid. Better known as the Black Museum, this grotesque museum houses an extensive number of weapons that have been used to seriously assault or murder in London, with the weapons used by Charlie Peace & Jack the Ripper being amongst the star attractions. The cases referenced are quite emotive and shocking & the museum does not admit the general public. But people from the police force/ associated bodies may access the space to attend lectures on pathology, forensic science, investigative techniques, and law.

Address: 2 Aldermanbury, London EC2V 7HH, UK

Hours:

Monday – Friday: 9.30am-5pm
(9.30am-7.30pm on Wednesdays)

Saturdays: 10am-4pm on the following dates:

13 and 27 April
11 May
1, 15 and 29 June
13 and 27 July
10 and 31 August
14 and 28 September
12 and 26 October
9  and 23 November

7 and 21 December

Sunday: Closed

Tickets: free

Website: https://www.cityoflondon.police.uk/about-us/history/museum/Pages/default.aspx

Phone: +44 20 7332 1868

The Clink Prison Museum

Photo by Mike Peel. License: CC BY-SA 4.0

England’s most notorious and the oldest prison dating back to 1144 A.D. has held quite a few drunkards, debtors and religious adversaries in its glory. The infamous Clink Prison, now a museum, has opened its doors to enable visitors to have a peek into the misfortune & misery that was once perpetrated inside its four walls. Visitors can look around and see the gruesome torture devices used then, and lay ears on horrific tales of punishment & torture inflicted upon the prison inmates.

Address: 1 Clink St, London SE1 9DG, UK

Hours:

Saturday 10am–7:30pm
Sunday 10am–7:30pm
Monday 10am–6pm
Tuesday 10am–6pm
Wednesday 10am–6pm
Thursday 10am–6pm
Friday 10am–6pm

Tickets:

Adult (inc. Booking fee £0.50) – £8.00
Child (inc. Booking fee £0.50) (Under 16) – £6.00
Concession (inc. Booking fee £0.50) (Students & OAP’s) – £6.00
Family (inc. Booking fee £1.20) (2 Adults + 2 Child under 16) – £19.20
The Clink Prison History Guide Book – £2.00

Website: http://www.clink.co.uk/

Phone: +44 20 7403 0900

Wellcome Collection

Photo by Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg). License: CC BY-SA 4.0

A MUST SEE for the incurably curious, the Wellcome Collection provides a healthy dose of satiation with its treasure trove of oddities exploring the connection between medicine & arts. Founded by a 19th-century pharmacist with an affinity for everything a trifle eccentric,  this museum displays exhibits related to religion, gender, mental illness, porn, murder and above all, 19th-century medicine. Guillotine blades and surgical implements made of ivory, gastrointestinal cameras, Napoleon’s toothbrush sitting alongside mummies, and suggestive works of modern art, like huge jelly babies used as a metaphor for cloned humans are some of the highlights.

Address: 183 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BE, UK

Hours:
Saturday 10am–6pm
Sunday 10am–6pm
Monday Closed
Tuesday 10am–6pm
Wednesday 10am–6pm
Thursday 10am–9pm
Friday 10am–6pm
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Tickets: free

Website: wellcomecollection.org

Phone: +44 20 7611 2222

There! After a really long journey into the world of unimaginable weird, gory weird and simply…WEIRD, you need a break. In the break, you could book your tickets and pack your bags to go and experience the weirdness yourself. A tempting feast of the lavish spread of quirk and eccentricity awaits you in the Royal English city.

So, don your curiosity hats and get ready to explore the eccentric side of London!!