From fashion to Freud and everything in between, these London museums showcase the very best of British history. Here are a few of our favourites…
Words Helen Brown
While away wintery weekends with our pick of top London museums
CARTOON MUSEUM, HOLBORN
Go behind the scenes of the very best British cartoons. This Holborn establishment is London’s first museum dedicated to showing the best cartoons, comics, caricatures and animation. There are regular exhibitions and events and a reference library.
MUSEUM OF BRANDS, PACKAGING & ADVERTISING, NOTTING HILL
Wade back through 150 years of British consumer heritage at this quirky little number, home to our best-loved brands. From Oxo and Marmite to Twinings and Rimmel, they’re all through displays of more than 12,000 items of posters, toys, games, fashion and technology.
GEFFRYE MUSEUM, HACKNEY
Anyone interested in interior design will marvel at the charm of the Geffrye museum which houses everything homeware, from William Morris to Ikea. Out of all the London museums, this one is fairly niche with a focus on the changing style of English domestic interior, from the 1600s to the present. The museum is set in a series of lovely 18th-century almshouses and is surrounded by gardens.
MAGIC CIRCLE MUSEUM, EUSTON
This unique living museum is home to magic and magic arts. It’s named after the society founded by a group of twenty-odd magicians in 1905. The aim of this group was to promote their craft and share tips on magic tricks. The Magic Circle Museum reflects this ethos with a collection of curious artefacts and a library, with over 6,000 books devoted to the subject of magic.
FREUD MUSEUM, HAMPSTEAD
Visit the most intriguing of London museums with a trip to the final home of Sigmund Freud. See his study – preserved just as it was during his lifetime – and his original psychoanalytic couch on which his patients told him their dreams and memories. The Freud Museum also contains Freud’s remarkable collection of antiquities, which are arranged on every surface.
LONDON SEWING MUSEUM, BALHAM
This museum has captured the history of the sewing machine from 1850 to 1950. Over 600 machines are displayed, including the first Singer machine, a unique model once owned by Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter and a patent machine sent from America for the Great Exhibition.
SHERLOCK HOLMES MUSEUM, BAKER STREET
It would be a crime to disregard the fictional heritage of this street and so the Sherlock Holmes Museum stands to commemorate its famous residents. Take a step back in time to Victorian London and visit Holmes’ apartment. According to the stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, he and his loyal friend Dr Watson lived at this exact address. Inside you’ll find life-size waxworks from Sherlock Holmes’ most famous adventures, and a shop full of quirky objects and souvenirs.
THE CINEMA MUSEUM, KENNINGTON
All aspects of cinema are celebrated here with a unique collection of artefacts, memorabilia and equipment that preserves the history and grandeur of the film industry from the 1890s to the present day. The extensive collection includes countless photographic images, old cinema posters, cinema staff uniforms and antique cinema fixtures.
FASHION & TEXTILE MUSEUM, BERMONDSEY
The fashion and textile museum focuses on all things fashion, textile and jewellery. Founded by English fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, the museum has an ever-changing programme of temporary exhibitors and emerging design talents.
HORNIMAN MUSEUM & GARDENS, LEWISHAM
This free museum in Forest Hill holds one of London’s most extensive collections of anthropology, natural history and musical instruments. Visitors can catch a varying programme of special exhibitions, concerts, festivals, shows, workshops and activities. They’ve recently just launched a butterfly house with hundreds of the beautiful creatures free-flying in a specially planted tropical indoor garden.