If you only have a limited amount of time in London, there are a few of the usual must-sees: the British Museum’s Parthenon Marbles, the Natural History Museum’s dinosaur exhibit, Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” painting at the National Gallery, and the like. But while these might be the London museum scene’s crown jewels, the English capital has plenty more hidden gems for those whose tastes are a little more offbeat. From creepy dolls to jars jammed with pickled moles, you don’t need to look far to find some of the more unusual exhibits in London. Here’s a roundup of some of the weirdest (and the best) alternative museums you’ll find in London.
It’s not for the squeamish. The Hunterian Museum takes you on a fascinating and macabre journey through more than 3000 pathological and anatomical specimens, all preserved (safely) behind glass. You’ll see everything from foetuses of dolphins to the remarkable skeleton of a 7-foot, 7-inch tall man — Charles Byrne, the “Irish Giant.”
Behind glass display cases you’ll also see the reproductive organs and digestive systems from a huge variety of animals — frogs, whales, and many more — all pickling in jars.
The “Clink Prison”
What’s better for a day out than the most notorious and oldest prison in England?
The Clink Prison dates to 1144 and has held many debtors, religious adversaries, drunkards, and more. Now it’s become a museum, allowing visitors to see the misfortune and misery it once perpetuated. Visitors are able to touch and handle some of the grisly torture devices as well as hear about the punishment and tortures that were once inflicted on inmates.
A little lighter than the Clink Prison, the Museum of Brands includes everything from iconic ad posters to oxo cubes dating from the First World War. It’s a nostalgic collection of British consumerism and a lot more fun than you’d expect from the name. It’s something like a time tunnel, letting you immerse yourself in a wonderfully retro collection of 1970s chopper bikes and 1890s Rimmel cosmetics. There’s even a wall of Heinz soups, and another wall of energy drinks.
The Arsenal Football Club Museum
While you can just buy Arsenal tickets if you’d like to see London’s iconic Arsenal FC in action, it’s also worth a visit to the Arsenal Football Club Museum. The Museum has (among other things) the shirt Charlie George wore in the 1971 FA Cup Final, Michael Thomas’ boots from the 1988-89 Arsenal-Liverpool match, and more. It’s located in the Northern Triangle building just north of Emirates Stadium, so you can see a match and visit the museum in one go.
Advertised as a must-see destination for those with “incurable curiosity,” the Wellcome Collection has plenty to be curious about: it’s a treasure trove of oddities and medical implements, exploring the many connections between art and medicine.
The Wellcome Collection was founded in the 19th century by a pharmacist who had a magpie-esque tendency to collect anything that was a little offbeat. You’ll see Napoleon’s toothbrush next to mummies and gastrointestinal cameras, as well as provocative modern art works like giant jelly babies meant to serve as metaphors for cloned humans.