An ABC of unexpected London museums


..for those who would like to wander a little off the beaten track.

The Anaesthesia Museum

The Anaesthesia Museum is part of the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre, and houses a fascinating collection of equipment, artifacts and information. If you are interested in the history of anaesthesia, pain relief and resuscitation, this is the museum for you.

The museum features permanent displays and themed exhibitions of anaesthesia-related items, including an early resuscitation set, dating from 1774.

Along with photographs and displays of the history of anaesthesia, there are interesting items, such as antique hypodermic syringes, World War 1 first aid equipment, and drug packaging. One fine example from Roche Products contained “hypnotic analgesics and vegetable soup sedatives.”

There are several examples of a “most ingenious and useful” ether inhaler, invented by John Clover in 1877 on display. Clover’s notebooks and lecture notes are part of the museum’s collection, along with the research notes of various other renowned pioneers in the field of anaesthesia.

The museum is currently displaying an exhibition entitled “The Riddle of Shock” Prior to WW1, shock was a major killer, as so little was understood about the condition. The exhibition explores the growing understanding of shock, gained from experience in the theatre of war, and the development of life-saving treatments, including early blood transfusions. The exhibition includes recorded interviews from field medics of the time.

“The Riddle of Shock” is second in a series of four year-long exhibitions, relating the advances in anaesthesia and pain relief during the Great War. This series of exhibitions will run until 2018.

Entry to the museum is free. Group tours, including a talk and the opportunity to handle various exhibits, can be arranged for a small fee. (Schools and Higher Education groups Free of Charge)

Open Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm *Last entry 3.30pm It is advisable to contact the museum prior to visiting.

The Anaesthesia Museum 21 Portland Place London W1B 1PY

Tel: 0044 20 7631 1650 Fax: 0044 20 7631 4352

Bank of England Museum

The Museum allows visitors the opportunity to look beneath the petticoats of the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street. It offers various talks about the history, architecture and function of the bank, for all ages and abilities. These talks are for groups of fifteen to twenty people.

Also available are described tours for smaller groups of bind and partially sighted people.

All the talks and tours have to be booked in advance, and are free of charge.

Since it was founded in 1694, the Bank of England has built up a large collection of currency, art and artifacts. These collections are open to the public.

The museum holds the largest collection of Bank of England banknotes anywhere in the world, including notes dating from the 17th century, a fascinating array of forgeries and original artwork for note design through the years. It also has a huge collection of coinage from the first coins minted when the bank was founded in 1694 to the present day.

Furniture from the bank’s buildings and offices, including many antiques that were designed specifically for the bank, and many paintings and cartoons of bank employees, architecture and events are also on display, along with silverware, interesting weaponry and banking paraphernalia.

A new permanent display, “Discover GOLD,” was introduced in January 2015, and features gold bars from Roman times onwards. The exhibition explores the many uses for gold in modern technology, as well as explaining why gold has been so highly prized throughout history.

open Monday – Friday 10am – 5pm *Last entry 4.45pm
Closed Bank Holidays / weekends. Entrance in Bartholemews Lane

The Bank of England Museum Threadneedle Street London EC2R 8AH

Tel:0044 20 7601 5545

The Cinema Museum

Established in 1986 by film enthusiasts Ronald Grant and Martin Humphries, the Cinema Museum is housed in the Victorian Workhouse where Charlie Chaplin spent some of his early life.

Ronald Grant, a projectionist originally from Aberdeen, started the collection by salvaging artifacts and memorabilia from the James F. Donald cinemas in Aberdeen, and from there, he and his co-founder have amassed an enormous treasure trove of cinema-related ephemera, architectural fixtures and fittings, rare film footage, uniforms, projection equipment and publications about film and cinema.

Cinema sheet music for silent films, carpets, ashtrays and advertising posters, tinted lobby cards, photographic images, sound systems, lenses, and original architect drawings for buildings and interiors are all housed in this magnificent Victorian building, with some of the priceless archives stored in conjunction with the Projected Picture Trust at Bletchley Park.

The museum also collaborates with the British Film Institute National Archive, which has rare nitrate films in secure storage. The film collection includes early fiction films by Blackburn based Mitchell and Kenyon, who were pioneers in the Edwardian film industry. The museum received the prestigious Haghefilm prize at the 1997 Pordenone silent film festival, for its work preserving rare film footage. The museum also has a large collection of public information films, B movies, newsreels, advertisements and trailers from the entire history of cinema. A busy programme of film screenings, talks, presentations, exhibitions and live events provides plenty for film enthusiasts to enjoy, and guided tours of the museum are available most days, by appointment only. For more information, contact

The Cinema Museum 2 Dugard Way (off Renfrew Road) London SE11 4TH Tel.: +44 (0)20 7840 2200 Email: