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7 Weird Museums in London

posted in: Europe  |  posted by: Ian Harrison on January 31, 2009  |  1 Comment

If you need any proof that London has it all and is probably the most off-beat, quirky and eccentric city in the world, well, we invite you to read on with gusto. The most erudite and intellectual capital can dazzle on many fronts. Royal pomp and pageantry of course, not to mention architectural treasures and landmarks. Quaint boroughs, pubs, restaurants and specialty shops to help you blow your budget out of the water, along with some of the best nightlife and theatre in Europe.

But where London really shines, at least in our humble estimation, is in those quiet nooks and secret haunts where few mainstream tourists tread. There are endless pockets in the vast metropolis where one can glean precious tidbits of information and glorious photographic gems for posterity. Part of the London’s treasure trove certainly rests in the capital’s supreme network of quixiotic museums. We all know about the British Museum and the Tate Modern but how about these weird and wacky seven?

Bramah Museum of Tea and Coffee

This odd museum is the only one in the world where tea and coffee are the principal topics on display. The Bramah Museum chronicles over four hundred years of British Empire colonial and commercial interests in the two crops, with attention to the social ramifications of both.

Exhibit at Bramah Museum of Tea and Coffee

The Cartoon Museum

With a library that contains over 3,000 books on cartoons of all types, the Cartoon Museum in London is perhaps the best resource one can unearth on the subject. Over 1,200 exhibits grace the comic art museum, which was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in 2006.

The Cartoon Museum

Old Operating Theatre Museum

The sight of this most unusual museum may conjure a house of horrors to many but in truth, this space is what a typical early 19th century surgery suite was like in appearance and form, before the advent of modern antiseptic practices of course. In addition to the theatre, the museum contains exhibits and artifacts on early (and rather grisly) medical practices.

Old Operating Theatre Museum

Foundling Museum

As sad as it is weird as a subject of study, the Foundling Museum is completely devoted to the story of London’s abandoned orphans. Built on the site of Britain’s first refuge for unwanted infants, the museum contains mementos left by distraught mothers and incredibly, along with a fabulous Rococo interior, a remarkable collection of art and the original score to Handel’s Messiah. Hallelujah Oliver Twist! May we have some more?

Foundling Museum

Royal London Hospital Museum

London just loves the macabre. This strange museum, though it bears a very official name, is in the cript of the Anglican church of Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. How lovely. If medieval medical equipment, Elephant Man displays, famous false teeth and bladder stones are your bag, give this little gem some of your time.

Royal London Hospital Museum

British Optical Association Museum

We just love how bloody official and important even the most mundane landmarks in England can sound. This museum of course, is devoted to glasses, specs and eyewear galore. Believe it or not, the small museum that spans two halls in a Georgian manor has been around since 1914. Gems in the collection include ivory specs from the 16th century, Venetian sunglasses worn in the late 18th century and glasses made of whalebone and rare gemstones.

Street where British Optical Association Museum is located

Museum of Brands

An entire museum based on brand names? Yes, London has it. It might sound dreary (or not) but the frank truth is that the Museum of Brands represents one of the most curious, off-the-wall destinations in all of wonderful London. If you like kitsch, this is the place to be. The collection of retro brands, from toys, food products, household goods, magazines and even games, totals over 12,000. The museum even has a “time tunnel’, with brands from the Victorian era to today.

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Museum of Brands exhibit

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7


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