6 Unusual Museums for Curious Cats
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Being curious can be a wonderful thing. But being curious can also be a dangerous thing. It can lead you into all sorts of troubles with your spouse, your boss and your opinion of yourself. Luckily for us curious types, there are places in London that are desperate to give your appetite for learning a good old tickle.
Here we've got six unusual museums worth passing some time in - to look at cool stuff, think some things, and feel slightly cultural. That'll put an end to those wild searches on Pornhub, won't it? Promise us it will?
It might be small and cosy but boy have they packed a lot of specimens into this place: a macabre, captivating window into the animal kingdom. London's last remaining zoological museum, it has 68,000 specimens in its locker, although only 7% of those are on display - but fear not, it's the good stuff (or so we're promised).
Anything that's ever called itself an animal has a place/jar here, with mounted creatures, strange specimens in fluid, and skeletons galore. It's free entry and a reliable shout for a curious mind.
Founded in 1247, Bethlem psychiatric hospital has quite the chequered history. Back in Victorian times, people used to pay to come and look at 'the crazies' as some kind of fucked up hobby. Times, and the hospital's location, have changed since then and there is now a collection centred around the de-stigmatisation of mental health in the old, Art Deco hospital building.
Full of art and some pretty ominous looking objects (think leather and iron shackles), this place doesn't shy away from the shit that's happened in the past, making for a super interesting look into mental healthcare and its treatment.
Proving that hoarding is actually alright after all, Sir John Soane's Museum is a three house labyrinth of curiosities left exactly as it was when he shuffled off this mortal coil. He collected all sorts, from famous artworks to sculptures, furniture and artefacts and they're somehow crammed into this building.
If you have limited time be sure to check out the sarcophagus of the Egyptian king and the picture room in which the famous painted series 'The Rake's Progress' by William Hogarth hangs. But give yourself ample time - everything is worth swooning over for quite a while.
Marketing is so hard to ignore these days, we sometimes scrutinise Whatsapp messages from our mum to double-check she isn't trying to sell us something. Well guess what, advertising isn't new, and this museum is an exploration of the history of consumer culture. Taking things back to the 1800s, this is a showcase of around 12,000 items travelling from the naive charm of the Victorian era to the sophisticated shittery of today.
We're talking Rimmel cosmetics from the 1890s, First World War Oxo Cubes, Mars Bars, Rolos, and KitKats from the 1930s, and a 1970s Chopper bike. It's a poignant reflection on the evolution of shopping patterns and human nature.
If you're a curious sort and need a outlet for your ogling that won't have you using Incognito mode, head to the Horniman, way out there in Forest Hill. Opened in 1901, it's a behemoth of anthropology with some 350,000 objects including taxidermy, an aquarium, a collection of musical instruments (some you can play) and permanent art galleries dedicated to African, Afro-Caribbean and Brazilian art.
There's a lot to take in, so you ought to make a day of it. Especially when there are 16 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens to wonder about in. Stroll around the butterfly gardens, bop inside the animal house, jaunt through the sound garden. Real, wholesome fun.
Imagine if every object you ever found, rare, magical or beautiful in any way, was put inside a small and dark basement of wonder in Hackney. For us, that would include plenty of Daily Sport newspapers from the early 00s. Luckily Viktor Wynd - a collector with no real time for categorisation or labelling - has a slightly more imaginative mind and he's created an incoherent vision of the world at this surreal museum on Mare Street.
The basement is full of all sorts: from priceless marvels of the natural and scientific worlds (like Dodo bones) to the interesting aesthetics of McDonald's Happy Meal toys; master etchings to prison inmates doodles, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. There's also an art gallery upstairs which puts on all kinds of shows, normally of the surreal variety.