Recommend me small museums in London -I'm visiting 100 this year.

I’ve challenged myself to visit 100 museums, but not necessarily all small - obviously I don’t need recommendations to the big ones. I’ve visited maybe 40 museums in London before, so I know quite a few of them already, but I want to branch out.

I’ve made a wordpress blog, and have so far visited and written up The Geffrye Museum, The Canal Museum and the Jewish Museum. I’m trying to decide on one to go to tomorrow; it might be a big one, for a bit of variety and because some of the smallest museums aren’t open till Spring anyway.

So, suggestions?

Dickens House.

My favourite small museum is Sir John Soane’s Museum, which is an amazing collection of material left more or less as Sir John had them when he died in 1837, leaving his house and its collection to the nation.

If you’ve got a strong stomach, the Royal College of Surgeons’ Hunterian Museum takes some beating.

Depends on your definition of small. Have you been to the Horniman? The Fashion and Textile Museum is just near London Bridge, but I’ve never been there. There’s the Brunel Museum and Thames Tunnel in Rotherhithe. And of course the Cuming Museum in Walworth.

Actually, can we come with you? It sounds great!

The Royal Observatory.

Dangit, I can’t find the really cool museum I want to visit that’s in a book called London’s Secret History. It’s got some good stories in it, so maybe you’d like to read it?

I liked the Toy Museum:

I will also note it was very dusty.

There’s the Museum of London near Postmans Park, The Guards Museum down the street from Buckingham Palace, “Firepower!” (the royal artillery museum) in Woolwich with a little ship building museum right next door. The Royal Fusiliers have a museum in the Tower of London. There’s the Wallace Collection in Manchester Square. These are all places in the London areas that I’ve been to and enjoyed. Outside of London, I’ve been to the Royal Armoury in Leeds, The Royal Armoured Corps museumin Bovington, and the several museums in the Portsmouth Naval Base. Yes, there is a definate theme to my UK visits.

Denis Severs House, a former Georgian silk weavers house in Spitalfields, is one of my absolute favs, although it isn’t open every day. Each room recreates a different period of history, in quite scary, smelly and sometimes gross, detail.

Okay, this is an odd one but I’m assured it’s great, and the only museum of its kind in the world: The Fan Museum in Greenwich. If it all gets too boring, you can pop into the very friendly gay pub across the road afterwards, The Rose & Crown.

The offshoot of the Museum of London, the Museum of London Docklands, is fab and gives a great insight into the old industrial port of London.

The Old Operating Theatre is a timecapsule of a victorian operating theatre discovered in the 50s after it had been bordered up and forgotten about. It’s like stepping back in time and has appeared in many period dramas as a result. It’s opposite Guys Hospital just behind London Bridge station.

Oooh ooh forgot about another small gem – the Museum of brands. It has a fantastic collection of packaging and advertising from the victorian era to the present day. Really great for getting nostalgic about your youth.

Does it have to be in London? If you can make it to Oxford for a day, the Pitt Rivers is the most awesome museum I’ve ever been in. A motley collection of anthropological curiosities from fifty years of collecting - mummies, shrunken heads, totem poles, you name it. And lots of heavy wooden drawers you can pull open, themselves full of a mahyussive amount of small anthropological curiosities. Bonus: you get a twofer, since you get to the Pitt Rivers through the Museum of Natural History. You could also do the Museum of the History of Science about 1/2 mile away in the same day. I’ll join you.

I might come up to Oxford, yeah - I have other people up there to visit too. TBH I was a little underwhelmed by the Pitt Rivers, but maybe this time I’ll enjoy it more.

Today I didn’t have much time free, so went to the Royal London Hospital Museum. Tomorrow I have more time so might visit one of the bigger places, like the Museum of London, or the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Sir John Soames’ House because they’re two minutes away from each other.

I’m adding all the others to my long list. I’m trying to visit the museums on key days, where possible, like for example I’m going to the Royal Institution (the one with the gory museum) on a day when there’s a lecture about music and the mind, and we’re going to the MoL Docklands this weekend because there’s also an ice-sculpture festival and the ice rink is sill there.

Denis Severs’ House has very limited opening hours, btw, so I’m going there next Monday lunchtime - if any of you work round there (Spitalfields), let me know if you want to join me. Or to any of the others, of course - company’s always welcome. (I also have tons of memberships to things for free entry now).

Most people probably wouldn’t find this exciting, but I’m really buoyed up by it. Such a lot to look forward to over the whole year. :slight_smile:

Last time I was in London (quite a while ago) I literally stumbled over the Dr. Johnson’s House Museum. Fascinating place. It’s the 1700s era home where Samuel Johnson wrote the first English dictionary.

I encourage you to put it on your list.

Yup, I’ve been to that one too, on the dictionary anniversary when entry was free and you got to dress up and I accidentally ate Dr Johnson’s pies; I’ve been to a lot of the ones mentioned so far, but I’m intending to go to them again.

You obviously don’t need a recommendation for the British Museum, but just across the road is the lesser known Cartoon Museum. I don’t know if Vinopolis counts as a museum, but it’s very close to the Clink. Hardest to visit is probably the Kirkaldy Testing Museum.

The trick to the Pitt Rivers is to open the drawers under the main exhibits. 99% of people who visit do know they’re accessible. Much better IMO is the Museum of the History of Science or the OUP museum (though you need to make an appointment)

Heck yeah it counts! Don’t they call it the Museum of Wine? My memory of my visit is a little blurred, probably something to do with the absynth tasting they have at the end.

The Clink, on the other hand, is an abomination of a museum.

The Clown Museum of course! I’d love to see the the painted eggs with clown faces. :slight_smile:

Here’s the Straight Dope about it.

Nice idea!

Most of my standard recommendations for quirky London museums have already been mentioned: the John Soane, the Huntarian, the Old Operating Theatre, the Museum of Docklands (am meaning to catch their current Siege of Sidney St exhibition) and the Cartoon Museum. Nobody’s mentioned the Wellcome Collection, but it’s fairly high profile.
Having seen them in the last year or so, I might have mentioned the Canal Museum and the Royal London Hospital, but you’ve already ticked them off.

I’m not sure I’d normally recommend all the following, but at one time or another I’ve done most of the science-y museums in town. Omitting the big ones:

[ul]The Faraday Museum in the basement of the Royal Institution. Overhauled in the last couple of years to give a contemporary spin on their historic collections (Tyndall and the greenhouse effect, etc.), rather than just have the reconstructions of Faraday’s labs. These days you also get to explore the rest of the building.[/ul]
[ul]The Franklin Museum. His town house in Craven Street, behind Charing Cross station. Saw this on an Open House weekend a couple of years ago when they weren’t doing it, but normally seems to have a heavy actors-interacting-with-visitors component. An interesting example of a small 18th century house, but I thought the best bit was the basement about the anatomy school that had been next door. It’s the unique example of 18th century anatomy detritus turning up in an archaeological dig, with lots learnt from it.[/ul]
[ul]The Grant Museum in UCL. Comparative anatomy, so a roomful of skeletons and fossils. (Grant was a major influence on the undergraduate Darwin in Edinburgh and the museum is almost exactly on the site of the house where the latter hit on natural selection.)[/ul]
[ul]The Petrie Museum. Also at UCL and literally round the corner from the above. Egyptology. Mainly lots of pots, arranged chronologically to teach students how to date Egyptian pottery fragments. Dry, but oddly satisfying.[/ul]
[ul]The Freud Museum. The shrine in Hampstead. Relatively expensive for what is essentially the single preserved room. But what a room.[/ul]
[ul]The Brunel Museum. Pretty much a single room, but a nice explanation of how the father and son engineered the Thames Tunnel.[/ul]

Suspect you may have set yourself a hard target if you restrict yourself to London proper, particularly if you exclude art galleries and the like. The Wiki list you link to on the blog looks thorough, but once you start excluding stuff that’s currently shut or difficult to get into, that list begins to shrink.