This International Museum Day I thought it would be a good opportunity to celebrate my favourite museums and take a moment to think about vital museums are to the UK’s third sector and society as a whole.
It is estimated that there are about 2,500 museums in the UK, ranging from national museums to historic properties to local museums, with everything that falls in between. Museums in the UK are fantastic, with a huge number of them free and give you an opportunity to learn, engage and experience history, art, science and literature.
Our museums safeguard our heritage and personal collections, making accessible artefacts, specimens and stories which they hold under their roof, trusted by the public to keep it safe and accessible.
There are over 200 museums in London, the city that I live in, so I thought I would highlight a couple of my favourite museums that I return to again and again, to enjoy and experience their permanent and temporary exhibitions, to learn and listen, and to evolve and adapt my perspective and vision of society.
The self-described ‘free visitor destination for the incurably curious’ this treasure trove of fascinating stories and artefacts delights me on every visit. The Wellcome Collection has a huge emphasis on medicine but through the lens of life, art and the humanities. It doesn’t just look back at the history but delves into our present state and where we may go in the future.
More information about the Wellcome Collection and how to visit can be found on their website www.wellcomecollection.org.
I love things in jars and at the Hunterian, I am not let down. Visiting you are met with a collection of human and non-human anatomical specimens, models and instruments, painting and sculptures. Like the Wellcome Collection, the Hunterian draws parallels between the arts and sciences with a focus on surgery from the 17th Century to the present day.
The Hunterian Museum is part of the Royal College of Surgeons and can be visited Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm and is also, fantastically, free! More information can be found on their website www.rcseng.ac.uk/museums/hunterian.
Grant Museum of Zoology
A University museum which is part of UCL which is of a similar ilk to the Hunterian Museum (i.e. stuff in jars!)
Inside this nondescript building is an array of over 68,000 specimens that cover the whole animal kingdom. The Museum was founded as a teaching museum and even includes many species which are now endangered such as the Tasmanian Tiger or the Dodo.
One of the things I particularly like about the Grant Museum of Zoology is one of the ways they look to generate funds. At the Museum, you can sponsor a specimen and therefore have your name sit pride of place next to the specimen on display. one of my favourites was someone who had sponsored the ‘Jar of Moles’.
More information can be found at www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/zoology.
Museum of London
The Museum of London has put on two of my favourite temporary exhibitions that I have visited in the past couple of years.
Last year I visited their exhibition on Sherlock Holmes which was intriguing and fascinating. Exploring the character of Sherlock through literature, art, film and media.
A few weeks ago I visited the Crime Museum Uncovered exhibition which was incredible. Wonderfully curated, choosing important artefacts to share and bringing to life the stories of the crime and the victims.
The Museum of London always wonderfully curate their temporary exhibitions, creating additional material, telling stories and engaging with you in various of ways.
I would highly recommend a visit to one of their exhibitions, including their permanent work! More information on their website www.museumoflondon.org.uk.
Old Operating Theatre
This is an incredible gem found in the heart of London near London Bridge station. You climb a rickety staircase up to an old church bell tower, where you find this beautifully preserved operating theatre and herb garret.
On certain days of the week, you can visit and hear from one of their volunteers who will tell you all about how the operating theatre was used and the social and surgical history of the place.
With only a small entry fee it’s certainly worth the visit, more information on their website www.thegarret.org.uk
These are just a snapshot, with many more museums in London that I know and love and many more that I need to visit! What’s your favourite museum?