Top Five Small London Museums
So everyone knows the Tates, National Galleries and British Museum, but how about visiting one of London’s smaller, quirkier museums? Bite-sized and more manageable than a trip to one of London’s more well known museums, they make a great way to explore a different side to London. Great as part of day out – a dose of culture without the overload! Here’s my favourite five small London museums:
Sir John Soane’s Museum
This is my favourite London museum. It’s the former home of the famous architect, Sir John Soane. He left the house to the nation when he died and instructed that nothing could be altered. It’s stuffed full of paintings, antiquities, sculptures, furniture and even a crypt complete with tombs and mummies. The picture room is a must see. It’s on the north side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Closed Sundays and Mondays. Free admission. Part of the Temple Tranquility London walk.
13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2A 3BP www.soane.org
The museum on the opposite side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields is something completely different… If you prefer science and medicine head to the Hunterian Museum in the Royal College of Surgeons building. There are specimen collections, skeletons and pickled organs galore – definitely not one for the squeamish! Closed Sundays and Mondays. Free admission. Part of the Temple Tranquility London walk.
35-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields WC2A 3PE www.rcseng.ac.uk/museums
On Manchester Square just north of Oxford Street is the Wallace Collection, housed in a beautiful historic mansion. The collection of 18th century French paintings, family treasures and armoury was bequeathed to the nation by Sir Richard Wallace in 1897. Head to the Great Gallery to see the 17th Century Old Master paintings. Set in the beautiful courtyard is a cafe/restaurant run by Peyton and Byrne. Free admission. Open daily. Part of the London Villages London walk.
Manchester Square W1U 3BN www.wallacecollection.org
This small museum dedicated to English interiors is housed in a historic Almshouse on Kingsland Road in Shoreditch. It’s set in a beautiful garden, also with a herb garden at the back of the museum. A series of rooms represents the changing style of English domestic interiors, displaying furniture, textiles, paintings and decorative arts. You can access the main galleries and herb garden for free. Closed Mondays.
136 Kingsland Road E2 8EA www.geffrye-museum.org.uk
Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
Part of University College London, the Petrie Museum houses one of the greatest collections of Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology in the world. Its 80,000 objects illustrate life in the Nile Valley from prehistory through the time of the pharaohs, the Ptolemaic, Roman and Coptic periods to the Islamic period. Free admission, closed Sundays and Mondays.
Malet Place WC1E 6BT www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/petrie