London has a lot of great museums. Since they have great educational value, and most of them are free, they will probably become your go-for activity if you decide to study in London. But with such a variety of museums, you might ask yourself which of them are worth your time. You might choose to go to big ones like National History Museum or The British Museum, but you may miss out some hidden gems like the ones I was able to find in East London. Although this list is by no means comprehensive, here are three museums in London which I think are worth your time.
The Victor Wynd Museum of Curiosities
Going to this one, I was not really sure what to expect. Its name gave me only a vague idea of what it has to offer. After roughly an hour of going over its rich collection of “curiosities,” I realized that it was one of the most bizarre experiences I had in a long time. Upon entering the museum in the basement, you will find yourself surrounded by skulls, stuffed animals, literature of sexual nature.
Dim lighting and peculiar odor create quite a dark atmosphere. During the entire visit, stuffed animals and pinned insects gave me a strong feeling of being watched, but, weirdly enough, it made me want to explore this place even more to solve its hidden mysteries.
While I definitely recommend checking out the Museum of Curiosities, I understand that there are people that may find some of the objects offensive and disturbing. So be mindful of that before visiting.
V&A Museum of Childhood
This is probably one of the better-known museums in East London. It has an extensive collection of childhood-related objects such as toys, dolls and board games. Initially interested in seeing famous Russian nesting dolls called “matryoshka,” I found out that this museum has objects on display from other parts of the world as well, including China and Japan.
Its collection also happened to have a number of action figures that I used to love playing with as a kid. There are also some interactive objects such as this moving model train.
Although this might not be the most age-appropriate museum for you, but it is a great experience overall. It actually managed to make me genuinely feel like a kid one more time. Definitely worth a try!
Ragged School Museum
I have to admit that I did not know what ragged schools were before visiting this museum. Upon entering the building I was met by a worker of the museum, who gave me a quick lecture on the history of ragged schools and their importance in the lives of poor children of the Victorian era. Built on the premises of the former ragged school used to provide children with basic education, thus preventing them from being on the streets probably engaging in illegal activities, it still retains the feel of Victorian life.
It has a classroom, which is used to provide children living in local areas with an insight into the past. I was lucky enough to witness one of their lessons myself (unfortunately, I don’t have a picture). Not only that, but this museum also features a reconstructed kitchen modeled after what it would look like in the early 20th century.
Although you should not expect to see an outstanding number of historical objects, Ragged School Museum has a great educative value, and for what it is, it does its job very well.
Bakdaulet Baitan is an economics major at Kenyon College and studied abroad with IFSA at Queen Mary, University of London in London, England in spring 2019. He is an international correspondent for IFSA through the Work-To-Study Program.