Best 20 unusual museums in London

Uncover London's wonderfully quirky unusual museums and bizarre collections, guaranteed to leave you fascinated, flabbergasted... or even a little frightened!

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! 

1. Sherlock Holmes Museum

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.

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Prices from £15.00

2. 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.

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3. The Vagina Museum Free

Celebrate the female organ at The Vagina Museum in London. Learn about the gynaecological anatomy, health and human rights through thought-provoking exhibits and informative but fun events hosted at the museum. Read More

4. 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.

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Prices from £3.00

5. London Canal Museum

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.

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Prices from £6.00

6. The Cartoon Museum

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.

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7. The Cinema Museum

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.

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Prices from £10.00

8. Dennis Severs' House

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.

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Prices from £10.00

9. 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.

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Prices from £5.00

10. 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.

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Prices from £14.00

11. Kirkaldy Testing Museum

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.

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Prices from £8.00

12. London Museum of Water and Steam

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.

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Prices from £17.00

13. Magic Circle Museum at the Centre for Magic Arts

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. By appointment only.

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14. The Museum of Brands

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.

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Prices from £9.00

15. Old Operating Theatre

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.

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Prices from £6.50

16. The Postal 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.

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Prices from £16.00 Book now

17. 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!

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18. 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.

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19. Grant Museum of Zoology Free

Uncover the fascinating collection of preserved animals as you wander the small-but-mighty Grant Museum of Zoology at University College London. Spanning more than 200 years, the display takes you under the skin of more than 68,000 specimens – including the famous jar of moles, which even has its own Twitter account.

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20. British Dental Association Museum Free

Take a look at the gruesome but gripping specimens of The British Dental Association Museum in Marylebone, including old dental chairs, blood-curdling tooth-extraction instruments and much more.  Read More
Find even more weird and unusual places to explore in London with our guides to cool and quirky things to do in London including 101 secret spots and must-see hidden gems.

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