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Five wonderfully weird London museums

Posted at 10:15 am, April 6, 2012 in Arts & Entertainment

Museum of Brands, Packaging and AdvertisingLike it or not, some day soon you’re going to be forced to entertain a relative. And, partly because you don’t quite know them well enough to take them down the local for a scotch egg and partly because you want to make it seem like it’s the sort of thing you do all the time, you’re going to have to go somewhere cultural. But there is an alternative to traipsing around among the same old dinosaur bones. Check out one of these alternative halls of knowledge and not only will you probably have a better time, but there’s also a good chance you’ll never be asked to babysit granddad ever again…

Hunterian Museum
Between the rows of pickled foetuses and the room’s imposing centrepiece – the skeleton of a genuine, 7ft 7in giant – there’s something slightly unsettling about this central London museum. As well as medical oddities of all shapes and sizes, the Hunterian also houses an impressive collection of seventeenth century surgical instruments and – oddest of all – Winston Churchill’s dentures. 35-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2A 3PE (020 7869 6560)

The Museum of Brands
It’s estimated (loosely, by us, just now) that Londoners have close to eight million advertisements forced into their eyeballs everysingle day, so the idea of visiting a museum dedicated to the things may seem a little ridiculous. On the contrary, though, this monument to commercialism is a brilliant nostalgic treat, and probably the only place in town you’ll ever see a grown man reduced to tears by a grainy cartoon of a tiger enthusing over sugar-coated flakes of corn. 2 Colville Mews,Lonsdale Road, W11 2AR (020 7908 0880)

The Magic Circle museum
Situated next to the headquarters of one of the world’s most secretive organisations, this public gallery sports a huge collection of magic memorabilia and illusionary trinkets. Props used by everyone from Harry Houdini to Prince Charles (who joined the magical fraternity in 1975, don’t you know) are on show, so consider your Paul Daniels magic kit pretty much blown out of the water. 12 Stephenson Way, NW1 2HD (020 7387 2222)

The Fan Museum
Greenwich has never been short on cultural clout, but when this museum dedicated to primitive ventilation apparatus opened back in 1991, shit got serious. The permanent collection consists of more than 3,500 fans and includes relics from way back in the 11th Century, while a temporary exhibition of plastic specimens (running until early June) provides an extra treat for fan fa… uh… appreciators. 12 Crooms Hill, SE10 8ER (020 8305 1441)

Sewing Machine Museum
Depending on how you feel when faced with a double-stitched gusset, this is potentially either the most exciting or mind-numbing museum in the city. Inside, visitors can check out close to 700 sewing machines – both domestic and industrial – with the star of the show being a machine bought by Queen Victoria in 1854. Unfortunately, it’s open for just three hours on the first Saturday of every month, so make a note in your diary now. Or don’t. 292-312 Balham High Road, SW17 7AA (020 8682 7916)

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