Seek out some of the most unique, weird and utterly intriguing museums dotted across the capital to discover lesser-known artefacts, learn more about the history of the stranger sides of London, and delve into some of the city's peculiar corners.
You sure wonder... Where in the world can you find a museum dedicated to a fictional character, as if he were real; ride an underground mail train; or visit a museum dedicated solely to fans? Read on!
2. Twist Museum
Find out all there is to know about the postal service in the absorbing The Postal Museum, as you explore an assortment of stamps, post boxes and post office vehicles on show. Don't miss out on venturing underground on the thrilling Mail Rail train, which was once used to transport mail.
Visit the uncanny Sherlock Holmes Museum, a Grade II-listed lodging house on Baker Street turned into the apartment of Conan Doyle's famous fictional detective and his friend Doctor Watson. The museum features waxworks, Victorian ephemera and a gift shop selling Sherlock Holmes collectibles and fun novelty items.
Enter a time capsule in Dennis Severs' House in east London as you wander silently through an 18th-century house lit by fires and candlelight, absorbing the sounds, sights and smells of a "recently abandoned" family home. Gasp at the house's 10 rooms which create 10 enchanting pictures created by the artist Dennis Severs.
Lover of illustrations? Pencil in a date with The Cartoon Museum which explores and preserves British cartoons, comics and animation. Discover a treasure trove of more than 6,000 original artworks and 8,000 books during your visit.
10. Anaesthesia Heritage Centre Free
Whether you're an anaesthetist or just curious, make your way to the unusual Anaesthesia Heritage Centre where you'll discover more than 2,000 objects dated from 1774 to the present day – all of which played a part in historical advancements in medicine and pain relief.
Go back in time as this restored 19th-century operating theatre tells the story of surgery and herbal medicine from the 13th to 19th century. Housed on top of a church, The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret is home to fascinating (and slightly creepy!) furniture, surgical instruments and other pharmaceutical objects.
12. Brunel Museum
On the site of the Thames Tunnel, The Brunel Museum showcases the work of famous engineers, Marc Isambard Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Examine drawings, watercolours and engravings of the pioneering tunnelling project and even find artefacts from the Fancy Fairs which took place at that spot in the past.
13. Freud Museum
Visit the Hampstead-based family home of Sigmund Freud and his family, who came to England in 1938 as refugees from Nazi-occupied Vienna. See Freud's authentic and untouched library and study, including his famous psychoanalytic couch. Then, watch screenings of Freud's home movies and marvel at his huge collection of antiquities.
14. Royal Academy of Music Museum Free
Whether you have a musical ear or can't string a tune together, the Royal Academy of Music Museum is the place to go for all things melodic. View numerous instruments, documents, images and musical relics and explore the collection of rare Cremonese stringed instruments – you may even hear some in action! Reopening 2 Sep 2022
Swing by the Canal Museum to learn the story of London's canals, cargoes, boats and trade. Discover a Victorian ice well and learn about the lives of people who lived and worked on the canal, then have a go at the deliciously entertaining ice-cream-making workshop – all in a waterside former ice warehouse near King's Cross.
Take to the wonderful world of the big screen as it's brought to life through an awe-inspiring collection of posters, projects and memorabilia at The Cinema Museum. Find more than 17 million feet (five million metres) of film, cinema designs, seats and even samples of carpet at this must-see for cinema fans. By appointment only.
17. Fan Museum
Undoubtedly one of London's most unusual museums, the Fan Museum is home to the world's finest collection of fans, dating from the 11th century to the present day. Housed in a pair of restored 18th-century houses, this surprising museum features a Japanese garden and spectacular orangery where you can delight in afternoon tea.
This unusual spot is a must for anyone with a love of machines and engineering. Opened in 1874 as David Kirkaldy’s Testing and Experimenting Works, the museum showcases his 116-ton "universal testing machine" which still works, even after years of use testing materials’ strength for bridges, locomotives, ships, airliners and more.
The giant beam engines at London Museum of Water and Steam (formerly Kew Bridge Steam Museum) are the largest of their kind in the world. Get pumped for a visit to the Victorian waterworks to learn about the engines which pumped London's water for more than 100 years – and see the steam-pumping engines in action.
There's more than a rabbit in a hat and never-ending coloured handkerchiefs at the Magic Circle Museum. See some of the magic world's most important memorabilia, including handcuffs used by Harry Houdini and props used by the Prince of Wales during his induction into the mysterious Magic Circle. To visit the museum guests must book one of the public shows.
Be inspired by The Museum of Brands in Notting Hill which features more than 12,000 original items from the Robert Opie Collection. Prepare for a nostalgic journey through childhood toys, fashions, magazines and more from Victorian times, through austerity Britain to the swinging '60s.
22. London Sewing Machine Museum Free
Open on the first Saturday of every month, the London Sewing Machine Museum in Balham houses a fascinating collection of more than 600 antique sewing machines, dating from 1850 to 1950. Highlights include a unique machine bought by Queen Victoria for her daughter, one from the Great Exhibition and the first-ever Singer.