Further afield – London’s lesser known museums and art galleries

Everyone knows about the British Museum, Tate Modern and National Gallery. Here are a few worth visiting that you may not have heard of…


Courtauld Institute of Art
Part of Somerset House, this is the London equivalent of New York’s Frick Collection, a relatively small collection but almost every picture is a masterpiece. Particularly strong on French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, this place is a gem.


Old Operating Theatre Museum
Up a very narrow spiral staircase close to London Bridge can be found one of the oldest surviving operating theatres, complete with gallery for students to observe the proceedings.


Grant Museum of Zoology
Part of UCL close to Euston, this is home to as many animals and part of animals in jars and glass cabinets as can be fitted into the space.


Tate Britain
The original, and in my opinion, best Tate gallery. Dedicated to British artists, I’ve seen many excellent exhibitions here over the years. Favourites in the permanent displays include Francis Bacon’s ‘Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion’ and David Bomberg’s ‘The Mud Bath’.


Hunterian Museum
Part of the Royal College of Surgeons, the museum dates back to the collection of John Hunt, and early doctor in the 1700s. Not for the squeamish with almost anything that can be placed into a formaldehyde jar or glass cabinet to be found here, including elephant feet, brains, and skeletons of dwarves and giants. Morbidly fascinating.


Sir John Soane’s Museum
Architect of the Bank of England and avid collector of art and plaster architectural replicas, Sir John Soane filled his house like a museum. Barely changed since the early 1800s his house (across the square from the Hunterian) is a treasure trove of discoveries, including a typically sartorial series by Hogarth and a couple of quality Canalettos.

Author: jontycrane

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