10% OFF all artwork with your first order. Use code: art10

Quirky Museums and Galleries to Visit in London

Written by: Kris Mercer

There are galleries in London that appeal to almost every artistic taste in one way or another. The major and well-known galleries are fantastic to visit – the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain, as well as the National Gallery and the V&A, attract a large number of visitors each year and have some truly breathtaking art to see.

Sometimes though you may be looking for something a bit different. There are a few smaller, quirkier and slightly lesser-known galleries and museums in the city. They have more than art on show.

Sir John Soane’s Museum

The building’s facade. Photo by Kris Mercer

Opposite a small park in Camden lie three buildings, Nos 12, 13, and 14 Lincoln’s Inn Fields which are now known as the The Soane Museum.

Sir John Soane acquired and rebuilt each of these buildings during his lifetime.

The Museum houses the drawings and models of neo-classical architect John Soane, as well as his vast, eclectic, and jumbled collection of drawings, paintings, classical statues, and antiquities.

Soane’s house had become a museum by the time he died, with thousands of artefacts ranging from Ancient Egyptian antiquities and Roman sculptures to models of contemporary buildings. He acquired some spectacular objects, including the Egyptian pharaoh Seti I’s sarcophagus.

Soane negotiated a private Act of Parliament in 1833 to maintain his house and collection in perpetuity, just as it was when he died – and to keep it open and free for inspiration and education.

The house itself is an art piece and the facade gives little away to what breathtaking sights await inside. Make time to visit this museum, you will not be disappointed

The Bower Gallery

If you’re looking for quirky, in Brunswick Park there was once an old toilet block!

A crowdfunded project saw this old toilet block in Brunswick Park, Camberwell, turned into a small art gallery and publishing hub complete with a café.

The Bower project was conceived by Louisa Bailey and Joyce Cronin, who worked with architects Claire and Kazuya Nakamoto to create a new, engaging community space, known as The Bower Gallery

The Viktor Wynd Museum of curiosities

Weird and off the grid this gallery/museum is also home to The Last Tuesday Society.

This unusual place is a cross between a tiny natural history museum, a junk shop and a small art gallery with an ever changing list of exhibitions and a cocktail bar.

Here you can also learn the art of taxidermy or join the Last Tuesday Society as it gathers every Tuesday for a series of lectures, events, drawing salons, screenings and secret society parties!

Viktor Wynd is an artist working in the field of relational aesthetics, a ‘pataphysicist, writer, curator, collector, dealer, dilettante, naturalist and antiquarian.

There is a charge to enter, but don’t let that put you off as there is plenty to see at The Museum of Curiosities.

The museum of brands

Photograph by Kris Mercer

The collection takes visitors on a nostalgic journey through 200 years of social change, culture and lifestyle. The permanent exhibition the ‘Time Tunnel’, created by consumer historian Robert Opie, explores the remarkable story of how our consumer society has evolved since Victorian times.

The exhibition When Brands Take a Stand presents TV commercials, posters and packaging.

It asks how brands and advertising have the power to influence society. How they affect the way we see ourselves and how we engage with others and the world we live in.

As a small charity, The Museum of Brands, rely on the income from ticket sales and visits to preserve the collection for many years to come.

Dr Johnson’s House

Samuel Johnson, the writer and wit, lived and worked here in the middle of the eighteenth century, compiling his great Dictionary of the English Language in the Garret.

Dr Johnson’s House is a Grade 1 listed small historic town house in the City of London. The museum’s collections consist of materials relating to Dr Samuel Johnson and his circle of friends. The library alone has a collection of over 1,000 books by or relating to Samuel Johnson.There are also 100 prints, 20 oil paintings, 27 water-colours, furniture, and the archives 44 eighteenth-century manuscripts.

Prince Henry’s Room

Access to the Temple complex through an entrance on Fleet Street, via a gateway beneath the first-floor, timber-framed windows of the well-preserved Jacobean house known as Prince Henry’s Room. Photograph by Sue Davids

The sign can be see on the side of the beautiful 17 Fleet Street, a building which acts as a pedestrian gateway into Inner Temple, but the room it refers to is upstairs on the first floor.

It used to be a small museum housing an exhibition about Samuel Pepys, sadly it is no longer but it is still worth visiting the area to see this magnificent building that is one of the few to survive the Great fire of London. The building itself is a work of art.

Originally part of the great 12th century estate of the Knights Templar, Inner Temple and Middle Temple contain many old buildings. The most noted is the drum-shaped Temple Church which found worldwide fame through Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code book and film.

CLINK PRISON MUSEUM

The Clink Prison dates back to 1144 making it one of England’s oldest and most notorious prisons.

Several attempts were made to destroy the prison. The Peasant’s Revolt in 1381, Jack Cade’s rebellion of 1450 and finally succumbing to it’s fate in 1780.

Although the museum can only boast an original wall of the actual prison it is an interesting place to visit and learn the history of it’s inmates and the Clink prisoners that began the Independent Church, which led to the Mayflower journey.

The George Inn

The George Inn, Southwark, London. Photograph by Kris Mercer

After a busy day wandering around London you could really do with a sit down and a drink. This is a stones throw from The Clink Museum just off London Bridge so although not a museum or Gallery it would be criminal not to include this gem of a building.

The George Inn,
The building that stands today was built in 1676 after a serious fire destroyed most of medieval Southwark. It is the only surviving galleried coaching inn in London. Charles Dickens visited the George and referred to it in his book, Little Dorrit. William Shakespeare is reported to have been another visitor.