Best Medical and Science Museums in London

Whether you're a science buff, a budding surgeon or just have a curious mind, London is full of fascinating science and medical museums.

From the world famous, ultra-modern Science Museum to the tiny, 19th century Old Operating Theatre, the capital has science and medical museums to suit all tastes and budgets; many offer free admission, too. 

Anaesthesia Heritage Centre

You'll be knocked out by the 2,000 objects related to anaesthesia at London's unusual Anaesthesia Heritage Centre! Whether you're an anaesthetist or just curious, the collection - which dates from 1774 to the present day - provides an absorbing story and historical account of advancements in medicine and pain relief. 

British Dental Association Museum

For a day out that'll make you glad anaesthetic was invented, take a trip to the British Dental Association Museum. From barber surgeons to toothdrawers, rotten teeth to the first painful root canals, and 19th century dental floss to clockwork drills, you can relive the history of dentistry in all its gory glory… and all for free.

Florence Nightingale Museum

Journey through the life and times of the "Lady with the Lamp" and discover what made Florence Nightingale so legendary. See the Turkish lantern she used in the Crimean War, her medicine chest – complete with a powdered rhubarb herbal remedy – and learn the astonishing story of this remarkable woman's life.

Hunterian Museum

In the grand Royal College of Surgeons, the Hunterian Museum displays the collection of pioneering surgeon John Hunter (1728-93). There are plenty of pickled creatures in jars here, including the organs of soldiers who fought in the Battle of Waterloo. Other exhibits explore contemporary and future surgery – not for the squeamish!

Kirkaldy Testing Museum

A must for anyone with a love of machines and engineering. Opened in 1874 as David Kirkaldy’s Testing & Experimenting Works, his 116-ton ‘universal testing machine’ still works and was used to test materials’ strength for bridges, locomotives, ships, airliners and more. Open for one Saturday every month.   

The Museum at the Royal Institution

This grand old building has been home to some of the world's greatest scientific minds and now houses artefacts used in history's most famous experiments. The Museum at the Royal Institution may be small, but there's no chance of getting bored. Discover how scientists built the first transformer or try your hand at the chemical elements game.

Museum at St Bart's

This museum brings the history of St Bartholomew's Hospital (or Barts) to life using interactive displays. At the click of a button, visitors are transported back into the world of a 13th century sister or a 15th century apprentice surgeon. Original drawings illustrate interesting cases; look out for the patient with a tumour of the tongue...

Old Operating Theatre

This is a real one-off – the only remaining 19th-century operating theatre in England, which sits at the top of an old church. Inside, you can watch demonstrations of surgical techniques and volunteer to be "operated on". The smells emanating from the herb garret (originally used to store and cure medicinal herbs) just add to the atmosphere.

Science Museum

Want to discover and interact with the major scientific advances of the last 300 years? Then head to the Science Museum. Kids and big kids alike love the Launchpad gallery; those with a strong stomach can visit the Glimpses of Medical History gallery; plus there's spaceships, steam engines, early medical equipment and much more. Entry is free.

Wellcome Collection

A free museum for curious minds, the Wellcome Collection gives visitors a unique insight into what it means to be human. Many of the collections are nothing short of bizarre, showcasing everything from a Peruvian mummified man to a robot used in the human genome project. Free guided tours take place most days.