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Quirky Museums and Galleries to Visit in London

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 in the city.



Sir John Soane 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 artifacts 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 sites await inside. Make time to visit this museum, you will not be disappointed.



If your 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.

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

There is a charge to enter.

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 para-physicist, writer, curator, collector, dealer, dilettante, naturalist and antiquarian.




Here they show over 150 years of brands, packaging and advertising though the permanent exhibition the ‘Time Tunnel’ created by consumer historian Robert Opie.

This is a fascinating insight into how we have lived since Victorian times.


There is also an ever changing catalogue of temporary exhibitions that shine a light on special moments in history and showcase the cutting edge of contemporary branding, packaging and advertising.

As a small charity, they rely on the income from ticket sales and visits to preserve the collection.




cartoon

Discover original artwork from the 1800s to the present day at The Cartoon Museum.

In 2006 a dedicated group of cartoonists, comic artists and collectors known as the Cartoon Art Trust came together to create a permanent home for a collection of graphic, satirical art and commentary. The resulting Cartoon Museum is devoted to exploring this art form.


The museum has over 6,000 original cartoon and comic artworks, and 8,000 books and comics. This is continually updated and curated, with hundreds of examples always on display.





This unique museum houses the world's finest collection of fans with examples from all over the world dating from the 11th century to the present day.

The Fan Museum is housed in a pair of restored Grade II listed townhouses, dating from 1721 and provides a superb and elegant setting for this collection.

The later addition on an Orangery, faithful to the architecture of the period, overlooks a Japanese style garden.

The Fan Museum holds a world-renowned collection of fans and fan leaves which include the splendid Hélène Alexander Collection and further acquisitions, gifts and bequests which have been received since the museum opened to the public over twenty five years ago.

The collection is so vast that it is not possible to display the whole collection together at any one time; therefore the museum features two distinct displays

The permanent display serves as an introduction to fans: their history, how they are made, and the materials used in their construction.

Two of the museum’s most important treasures are also displayed here: a late-sixteenth century flag fan and another painted by Walter Sickert.

The temporary display of exhibitions are changed every 4 months.





In Holland Park, in West London, stands Leighton House.

Combining living and studio space, the house remains largely unchanged to this day. Leighton House, 12 Holland Park Road, is the former home and studio of the leading Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896).


Leighton was the most prominent artist of his day, a celebrated painter and president of the Royal Academy of Arts.


Holland Park and the neighbouring area was popular with many notable artists, living in close proximity to each other they all had grand houses with large gardens.

The Holland Park Circle of artists would open their studios up every spring as part of 'Show Sunday" where artists gave visitors to their home a preview of their entries for the Royal Academy exhibition that year.


Today, it is the only artist's studio-house in the circle open to the public.

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