• Sir John Soane's Museum
  • Dulwich Picture Gallery
  • Chiswick House & Gardens

London’s Best Small Museums

Conde Nast Traveller author Susan L. Schwartz put together an eclectic roundup of London’s most-loved little museums. Noting that the smaller options “reveal the secrets and stories of specific Londoners, both real and imagined, who have made this city great,” Schwartz pays homage to the quirky mix of London establishments for their creativity and diversity.

The Leighton House, Schwartz writes, is best for fans of MTV’s “Cribs”, because Sir Frederic Leighton’s ceramic-tiled walls, gilt-painted dome, and stained-glass windows was so over-the-top the 1830’s-built home would’ve been worthy of an hour of 21st century television. Schwartz dubbed Sir John Soane’s Museum best for architecture addicts – and perhaps even closeted hoarders – because “every inch of his Neo-Classical townhouse is packed with books, prints, statues, columns, art works, and even a sarcophagus in the crypt.”

Would-be doctors and nurses would love the Wellcome Collection, Schwartz promises, not only because Sir Henry Wellcome invented Aspirin; he was also a collector of all things medicinal: drug paraphernalia, Napoleon’s toothbrush, fake arms and legs, Medieval-looking instruments, antique skulls and body parts, and 100,000 other out-of-the-box surprises.

Sprinkled in between the fun, carefree museums are homes rich in history, like the Churchill War Rooms – an easily-overlooked entrance leads guests to a cavern of rooms that once served as Cabinet War Rooms during World War II. Schwartz writes they were home to hundreds of government operatives during the six-year war.

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