Company Logo - Home Link

24 Weird, Quirky, Cool, and Unusual Museums in London

Updated: January 9, 2024

If you know one thing about me, it’s that I love museums. In fact, museums are one of the main reasons I moved here more than a decade ago - London is home to some of the world’s greatest museums.

In the space of a few hours, I can pop into The British Museum, The National Gallery, and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A).

But let’s be honest – sometimes I’m craving something a little stranger (ok, I’m always craving something a bit stranger)! If you’re like me, I’ve got you covered.

If you want to get off the beaten track and explore some of the weirdest or most unique museums, there are tons of options in London. London’s strange museums are legendary! 

I’m a tour guide for Free Tours by Foot, but I’m also known as The Museum Guide, so for an even deeper dive, head to my YouTube channel and check out my video about the Top 12 Strangest Museums in London.

I regularly guide tours of these strange museums and offer itinerary planning for museum-lovers like myself. 

If you’re traveling to London, join our London Travel Tips Facebook Group for helpful hacks and advice.

If you want even more weird London, make sure you join my London Urban Oddities group. Let’s get started!

1. Handle Hendrix House Museum

The name alone tells you who is celebrated at this museum: musicians George Frederic Handel and Jimi Hendrix. Believe it or not, they both lived in London, 200 years apart, in buildings next to each other.

You'll find spaces where these two significant musicians created their music, along with instruments, clothing, bedrooms and living rooms, and much more.

The House also hosts talks, music rehearsals, guitar sessions, and more.

Nearby, you’ll also find some great bars and restaurants in Soho – I personally recommend The Lyric for some great craft beer.

It’s one of my favourite places to go before a show, and It’s just a short walk from the former Bag o Nails, where Hendrix played his first gig.

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Keven Ayers, Peter Townshend, and Mick Jagger were all in the audience – and all blown away. 

Website: Handel Hendrix House

Location: 25 Brook St, London W1K 4HB | Mayfair

Admission: £14 Adult | £10 Student | Free under age 16

Hours: Monday-Tuesday: closed | Wednesday-Sunday 10:00 am-5:00 pm.

2. Leighton House Museum

When I feel like going somewhere both eccentric and refined, I like to head to the recently refurbished and spectacular Leighton House Museum.

It is located in the former home of Victorian-era artist, Frederic, Lord Leighton.

Walking in, I’m always filled with wonder. The house is "crammed to the rafters" with art from Leighton's contemporaries, and his own, of course, as well as sculptures and furniture.

Particularly stunning is Arab Hall, which is topped with a dome with a metal spire and lined with antique tiles from Syria. I feel whisked away to the Middle East without even leaving London.

Website: Leighton House Museum

Location: 12 Holland Park Road, London W14 8LZ | Holland Park

Admission: £11 Adult | £5 Children (age 6-18) | Free under age 6

Hours: Wednesdays to Mondays: 10:00 am-5:30 pm | Tuesday: closed

3. Freud Museum

I’m particularly fascinated by Freud, but before I moved to London I didn’t realise he spent his final years here.

The museum is located in the North London home where Sigmund Freud lived after escaping the Nazis, along with his daughter, Anna Freud, who lived there until her own death.

Sigmund, of course, was the founder of psychoanalysis, and Anna became a pioneering child psychoanalyst. 

Inside, visitors will find Freud senior's study along with his famous psychoanalytic couch.

There are also pieces of art, knickknacks, paintings, furniture, photographs, mementos, films, a gift shop, a garden, and much more.

Website: Freud Museum London | Tickets

Location: 20 Maresfield Gardens, London NW3 5SX, UK | Hampstead

Admission: £14 Adult | £9 Children (ages 12-16) | Free under age 12

Hours: Wednesday to Sunday: 10:30am-5:00pm | Tuesday: closed

Note: nearby is the home of poet John Keats.

4. God’s Own Junkyard

I’m a neon fanatic, and God’s Own Junkyard is my idea of heaven. This psychedelic neon paradise is housed in a warehouse in Walthamstow, Northeast London.

Late founder Chris Bracey got his start selling his neon creations to Hollywood directors such as Stanley Kubrick and Tim Burton.

Today, this warehouse shows off both neon salvage and art pieces. There's also a cafe and bar, The Rolling Scones, with food and drink.

There’s nothing quite like feeling the warm neon glow cast across your face – this is great lighting for photos!

Website: God's Own Junkyard

Location: Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall St, London E17 9HQ | Walthamstow

Admission: Free

Hours: Friday and Saturday: 11 am-10 pm | Sunday: 11 am-6 pm

5. Foundling Museum

In the 18th Century, the Foundling Hospital was opened by Captain Thomas Coram as the UK's first children's charity.

It was created with the purpose of caring for and housing vulnerable children, with a focus on healing them of diseases.

The Foundling Hospital Museum was created to house items from the hospital, including small items mothers left with the children they handed over, as a way of perhaps connecting the two in the future.

It makes me cry every time – it’s impossible to walk away with dry eyes.

Interiors have been recreated, and one can now find the works of several artists on the walls, including Gainsborough and Hogarth.

Note that the composer Handel held concerts of the Messiah in the hospital to raise money for it.

Website: Foundling Hospital Museum

Location: 40 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AZ | Bloomsbury

Admission: £10.50 Adult | £8.25 Concessions

Hours: Monday: closed | Tuesday to Saturday: 10 am - 5 pm | Sunday: 11 am - 5 pm

6. Pollock's Toy Museum

This quirky 70-year-old museum is home to toys of the past and was named after a printer of Victorian toy theatres.

They have a "much-loved collection of puppets, optical toys, teddy bears, tin toys, dolls and dolls’ houses, games, folk, and traditional toys from around the world."

How far back does their collection go? They have over 4,000 toys, including the world's oldest Teddy bears. I was gutted to find out it is temporarily closed, but they do have regular pop-up events around town.

Website: Pollock's Toy Museum

Location: 1 Scala St, London W1T 2HL, United Kingdom | Camden (see below)

Admission: £9.00 Adult | £4.50 Children

Hours: The museum is temporarily closed as they look for a new home for their collection. Check their website for pop-up locations until they reopen.

7. Sherlock Holmes Museum

Where else would you find the Sherlock Holmes Museum than at 221B Baker Street? 

This museum, in a four-story Georgian townhouse, was created to give visitors a sense of where Sherlock Holmes would have put his mind palace to good use. 

In addition to fully recreated Victorian living spaces, there are all sorts of memorabilia related to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's greatest creation, as well as a gift shop full of items Holmes might find interesting.

Website: Sherlock Holmes Museum

Location: 221b Baker St, London NW1 6XE | Westminster

Admission: £16.00 Adult | £11.00 under age 16 | free under age 6 | £14.00 Concessions

Hours: Monday-Sunday: 9:30 am - 6 pm

Note: After you visit the museum, you might like to visit the nearby Regent's Park.

8. Museum of Brands

The Museum of Brands is incredibly unique – filled with 150 years of branding, packing, and advertising in this museum. It’s the only one of its kind in the world!

Even though I grew up in Canada, it's a tour down memory lane. You’ll definitely come across items in their collection that bring back memories of your own childhood.

Website: Museum of Brands

Location: 111-117 Lancaster Rd, London W11 1QT | Notting Hill

Admission: £9.00 Adult | £7.00 Senior | £5.00 Children

Hours: Monday to Saturday: 10 am - 6 pm | Sunday and Bank Holidays: 11 am - 5 pm

Note: You might find our post on the nearby Portobello Road Market of interest if you visit the area.

9. Sir John Soane's Museum

Walking into the main sitting room of the Sir John Soane Museum will take your breath away –grandeur and gravitas fills his side-by-side townhouses.

This museum was founded by neo-classical architect Sir. John Soane, and his love of bric-a-brac, archaeology, and art continues to benefit us today. 

I always describe the museum as unique, eclectic, chaotic, and magnificent. Just wait until you walk into the stairwells, jam-packed with casts and treasures from antiquity – stop for a moment and really take it all in.  

Soane was a collector of all things interesting – you’re sure to find something that piques your interest. Oliver Cromwell’s death mask, a Roman fountain, or the sarcophagus of Seti I – and so much more.

Website: Sir John Soane's Museum

Location: 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3BP | Holborn

Admission: Free

Hours: Monday - Tuesday: Closed | Wednesday to Sunday: 10 am to 5 pm

10. Kirkaldy’s Testing Works

This purpose-built building was designed to house 'The Kirkaldy Machine,’ the original hydraulic testing machine designed by Scotsman David Kirkaldy in 1874.

He used it to test new industrial materials during the 19th century to keep people safe.

You need to book one of their tours to gain entry, but it’s worth it. When I went, I saw the machines in action, and I tried my hand at testing the strength of a parachute cord. It’s a great activity for kids and adults alike.

Website: Kirkaldy Testing Works

Location: 99 Southwark St, London SE1 0JF | Southwark

Admission: £8.83 - £25.63 depending on the tour chosen.

Hours: Hours vary; check the website (click on the top of the page) for upcoming open days.

11. Bethlem Museum of the Mind

Bethlem Hospital was originally founded in 1247, where Liverpool Street Station is today. It moved to a few other places in the City, before settling on this site in Croydon in 1930 

Known as the origin of the word “bedlam,” this was a grim and exploitative place.

The museum chronicles this dark history and showcases artwork and writing by former patients.

I’ll admit it – it’s a fair old journey to get here! But I found it so worth it – and if you’re interested in medical history, you will, too.

Bethlem Museum of the Mind
Bethlem Museum of the Mind

Website: Bethlem Museum of the Mind

Location: Bethlem Royal Hospital, Monks Orchard Rd, Beckenham BR3 3BX | Bromley

Admission: Free

Hours: Wednesday-Saturday: 9:30 am-5 pm

12. Grant Museum of Zoology

This museum is close to my heart because I used to volunteer here! It’s home to more than 67,000 specimens, and is London’s last university zoological museum.

During your visit, you can see remarkable examples of extinct animals, such as the bones of a Dodo and the bones and skins of a Quagga and a Tasmanian Tiger.

Also, don’t miss the Micrarium (a museum within the museum) and the beloved Jar of Moles. Yep, you read correctly – it’s literally a jar of taxidermised moles.

It’s famous on social media (or should I say infamous?) and even has its own Twitter account! It’s right when you enter the museum, by the front desk. 

Grant Museum of Zoology
Grant Museum of Zoology

Website: Grant Museum of Zoology

Location: Rockefeller Building, 21 University St, London WC1E 6DE | University College London

Admission: Free

Hours: Temporarily closed for an improvement program. Reopening in January 2024.

Note: For a slightly less weird look at the natural wonders, you might enjoy the free-to-enter Horniman Museum in Forest Hill. This garden museum covers natural history, anthropology, and much more.

13. Museum of Freemasonry

For an ancient secret society shrouded in mystery and conspiracy theories, the Freemason’s Hall in London is remarkably open about their rituals, artifacts, and memorabilia – or at least, they want us to think they are!

In addition to the fantastic free museum, they also offer regular free guided tours throughout the stunning Art Deco building.

I got a real kick out of the stately older gentleman who gave the tour – it’s the only time I’ve ever heard Upper Received Pronunciation in person! (That is, a really, really posh accent).

Museum of Freemasonry
Museum of Freemasonry

Website: Museum of Freemasonry

Location: 60 Great Queen St, London WC2B 5AZ | Between Holborn and Covent Garden

Admission: Free

Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10 am-5 pm | First Thursday of the Month: 10:00 am-8:00 pm

14. The Magic Circle Museum

From one secretive society to another!

In addition to the basement museum filled with magical pop culture memorabilia, there are also a lot of incredible artefacts displayed throughout the entire building.

You can only visit the museum when you purchase a ticket for an event, which always includes at least one magic show and often a tour of the building.

On the day I visited, my ticket included three magic shows, including some utterly bewildering close-up magic. I still don't know how he did it…

Website: The Magic Circle Museum

Location: Centre for the Magic Arts, 12 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HD | Euston

Admission: Free

Hours: Hours vary; check the website for upcoming events.

15. House of Dreams

This East Dulwich museum/art project was started in 1998 by Stephen Wright, an artist and designer.

He is lovely, and he’ll be there when you visit – we had a lovely chat about the strange outsider museums we’ve both visited around the world. 

Every inch of the space is decorated with dolls, false teeth, used wigs, old toys, and old wills, letters, and photographs collected from European junk markets. It sounds creepy and dingy, but it really isn’t!

He and his husband actually live there, and it is actually really lovely and magical. I kept wandering around with a big dumb grin on my face, like a big kid.

This is part home, part art gallery, and part personal record – and it’s only open on special open days, so check his website.

House of Dreams
House of Dreams

Website: Stephen Wright House of Dreams

Location: 45 Melbourne Grove, London SE22 8RG | East Dulwich

Admission: £12 per adult

Hours: Hours vary; check the website under "book now" for open days and times.

16. Novelty Automation

Pushing the limits on the definition of museum, Novelty Automation is part art gallery, part museum, part arcade - and 100% fun and bizarre.

It’s filled with satirical game machines, all constructed by hand by cartoonist and engineer Tim Hunkin.

Make sure out the interactive divorce machine, the “My Nuke Personal Nuclear Reactor," and the Housing Ladder slot machine.

My husband and I had an absolute blast here – this is a perfect date night activity. 

Novelty Automation
Novelty Automation

Website: Novelty Automation

Location: 1a Princeton St, London, WC1R 4AX | Holborn

Admission: Free, but to play the machines it's: £5 for 5 tokens| £9 for 10 tokens | £27 for 34 tokens

Hours: Tuesday-Wednesday: 11 am-6 pm | Thursday: 12 pm-8 pm | Friday and Saturday: closed | Sunday: 12 pm-6 pm

17. The Cartoon Museum

This small museum "is dedicated to preserving the best of British cartoons, caricatures, comics, and animation.”

You'll find thousands of these, some dating back to the mid-1700s, many with a focus on political history.

It’s not a big museum, but it’s well worth a visit if you’re interested in how comedy and artwork have been used together throughout the ages.

Website: The Cartoon Museum

Location: 63 Wells St, London W1A 3AE | Fitzrovia

Admission: £9.50 Adult | £6.00 Senior | £4.00 Student

Hours: Monday: closed | Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday: 10:30 am - 5:30 pm | Thursday: 10:30 am - 8 pm

18. Old Operating Theatre & Herb Garret

This little museum is housed in the attic of the early eighteenth-century church of the old St Thomas’ Hospital, and it’s my personal favourite on this list. 

The set-up predates the use of anaesthetics and antiseptics - it is the oldest surviving surgical theatre in Europe, and it details the early history of modern surgery. 

Make sure to poke around the herb garret at the Old Operating Theatre, where herbs would be stored for making medicines.

The whole experience really gets started when you begin climbing the treacherous spiral staircase! Sadly, the museum is not accessible.

Old Operating Theatre
Old Operating Theatre

Website: Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret

Location: 9a St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY | Southwark

Admission: £7.50 per adult

Hours: Thursday-Sunday: 10.30 am-5.00 pm 

19. Dennis Severs' House

Dennis Severs was an American who purchased a dilapidated property from the Spitalfields Trust.

In 1979, he opened this museum in the house, one meant to display the life as it would have been lived by Huguenot silk weavers.

In each room, you encounter crackling fires, lit candles, half-eaten meals, and echoing laughter just out of earshot.

There are mysteries to be solved, and strange instances to witness. Trust me – you need to look, listen, and pay attention. It’s especially magical at Christmas time!

Dennis Severs House
Dennis Severs House

Website: Dennis Severs' House

Location: 18 Folgate St, London E1 6BX | Spitalfields

Admission: £15 over age 12 | £15 Over age 65/students/disabled/children under 12

Hours: Thursday 6:00-10:00 pm | Friday 5:00-11:00 pm | Saturday & Sunday noon-midnight. You may also find some special events taking place on Wednesdays.

20. Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art, & UnNatural History

In almost any city in the world, Dennis Severs would undoubtedly win the moniker of the strangest museum.

But we’re in London, and so we must visit the wild and wonderful Viktor Wynd.

This museum isn’t for the faint of heart – it’s loaded with occult objects, taxidermy, and bizarre celebrity memorabilia, including Russell Brand’s pubic hair, The Rolling Stones used condoms, and even Kylie Minogue’s poo.

Tucked amongst shrunken heads, old Happy Meal toys, pulp erotica, Feejee Mermaids, and two-headed kittens, you’ll find objects to horrify and delight you.

Even better, you can swig a strong cocktail before and after at The Absinthe Parlour & Cocktail Bar upstairs on the ground level.

I love this museum – it really reminds me of the reason I love museums in general.

Make sure you have a seat at the coffin table (containing a real human skeleton) next to the taxidermised lion in a fez hat. You have to see it to believe it…

Note: There is an online gift shop should you want to purchase something to remember your trip.

Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art, & UnNatural History
Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art, & UnNatural History

Website: Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art, & UnNatural History | Hackney

Location: 11 Mare St, Cambridge Health Road, London E8 4RP

Admission: £10 Adult | £6 for concessions

Hours: Tuesday to Friday: 3 pm-11 pm | Saturday: 12 pm-11 pm | Sunday: 12 pm-10 pm

21. The Fan Museum

Surprisingly, this is not the only fan museum in Europe!

There is an abundance of strange and unusual fans found in the historical record – after all, every gentlewoman used to carry a hand fan to keep herself nice and cool!

This museum also does a lovely afternoon tea, and it’s a good price – however, the stunning orangery where it is served is currently closed for refurbishments.

Website: The Fan Museum

Location: 12 Crooms Hill, London SE10 8ER | Greenwich

Admission: £5 Adult | £3 Child

Hours: Wednesday to Saturday, 11 am-5 pm

Note: If you have an interest in design and textiles, you may find the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey interesting.

22. The London Sewing Machine Museum

Do you want a niche museum? We have one!

If you’re an avid sewer or just interested in the history of technology, you’ll enjoy this museum.

It’s home to a collection of more than 600 antique sewing machines, dating from 1850 to 1950.

Website: London Sewing Machine Museum

Location: Balham High Rd, Tooting Bec, London SW17 7AA | Tooting Bec

Admission: Free

Hours: The first Saturday of every month, 2 pm-5 pm

23. The Vagina Museum

The world’s only museum dedicated solely to the vulva and vagina, this informative and cheeky museum will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about ‘down there.’

I told you London has a museum for everything!

Expect to learn a lot, even if you’re lucky enough to have your own.

WebsiteVagina Museum

Location: 18 Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green, London E2 9PF

Admission: Free

Hours: They have just moved to a new location, so check their website for re-opening hours.

Note: you might also enjoy the Wellcome Collection in Euston, a free museum that has permanent and temporary exhibits having to do with medicine and the human body, including the Being Human exhibit.

24. Anaesthesia Heritage Centre

Following a recent refurbishment, the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre is visitor-friendly and is often frequented by traveling anesthesiologists and medical students.

The displays, which can get quite grisly, include the history of chloroform, pain relief in childbirth, information on Queen Victoria’s births, and more.

It’s a small museum, but definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area and have an interest in the history of medicine.

Website: Anaesthesia Heritage Centre

Location: 21 Portland Pl, London W1B 1PY | Marylebone

Admission: Free

Hours: Monday-Friday: 10 am-4 pm

Related Posts

About The Author

Jessica O'Neill

I'm Jessica O'Neill, and I am an expert in London's museums and culture. I love sharing my knowledge with my tour guests and my viewers on my YouTube channel, The Museum Guide. Read More... I first moved to London more than a decade ago to complete an MA in Cultural Heritage Studies at UCL, and continued my studies in memorials and contested heritage at the PhD level. I specialise in private tours of the East End, the British Museum, the National Gallery, and all kinds of oddities, medical history, and macabre history. I run the London Urban Oddities Facebook group. I hope to see you there! You can arrange a private tour with me by getting in touch with , or visiting my website at The Museum Guide.
Updated: January 9th, 2024
Back to Top