Where Science Lives

By Linda Tancs

London’s Faraday Museum is named for 19th century scientist Michael Faraday, who contributed to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. Located at the Royal Institution (Ri), the museum celebrates his achievements as well as those of other Ri members, 14 of whom were Nobel Prize winners. The exhibitions include the actual objects Ri scientists built and used in some of the world’s most famous experiments. Admission is free.

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Barbican’s Hidden Treasure

Home to the London Symphony Orchestra, the Barbican is perhaps best known as Europe’s largest performing arts centre. But it’s also got its wild side—namely, a conservatory ranking second only to Kew. Inside you’ll find exotic fish and over 2,000 species of tropical plants and trees. It’s open to the public only on Sundays, when you can also enjoy an afternoon tea.

Behind the Scenes at Wembley

Ever wonder what it’s like behind the scenes of the UK’s largest sporting and music venue? You can find out with a Wembley Stadium Tour. Approximately 75 minutes in length, the fully guided tour includes locations such as the England Dressing Room, Players Tunnel and Press Room. You’ll get to take photos from some of the best views in the stadium bowl and see fantastic memorabilia like the 1966 World Cup crossbar, the Jules Rimet Trophy commemorating England’s World Cup glory and the original flag from London’s 1948 Olympic Games. Wembley is only two stops from Baker Street (Metropolitan Line).

The Dark Side of Victorian London

Perhaps no story in the history of East London in Victorian times is as gripping as Jack the Ripper. At the Jack the Ripper Museum on Cable Street, six floors recreate scenes from the time, such as the murder scene in Mitre Square, the Whitechapel police station, Mary Jane Kelly’s bedroom, the mortuary and more. The museum explores East London during Victorian times, exploring the crimes within the social context of the period. The facility is just seven minutes away from Tower Hill Station.

A Knock-Out Museum

What’s a collector to do with a motley assortment of historic anaesthetic apparatus? Why, donate it, of course. That’s what Charles King did in England when he donated his collection to the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI) in 1953. That conveyance formed the basis for the development of the Anaesthesia Museum, part of the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre in London. The earliest object in their collections is a resuscitation set from 1774. A unique resource for research into the history of anaesthesia, the museum also contains Morton’s demonstration of ether inhalation in 1846 as well as modern anaesthetic machines. As part of their World War I commemorations, the AAGBI has compiled an extensive oral history from interviews with anaesthetists who served in wars from Vietnam to the recent day conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Open Monday to Friday, admission to the facility on Portland Place is free.

The Art of Making Music

The Musical Museum at Kew Bridge contains one of the world’s foremost collections of self-playing musical instruments. In addition to the tiniest of clockwork music boxes and the Mighty Wurlitzer, the collection includes an array of sophisticated reproducing pianos, orchestrions, orchestrelles, residence organs and violin players, along with 30,000 historic musical rolls. Tours with live demonstrations of self-playing instruments and the Mighty Wurlitzer take place on open days throughout the day. The facility is located in Brentford, London Borough of Hounslow, a few minutes’ walk from Kew Bridge railway station.

The History of Royal London Hospital

The Royal London Hospital Museum is located in the former crypt of St Philip’s Church at Newark Street. Once Britain’s largest hospital, it counts amongst its legendary patients Joseph Merrick (the “Elephant Man”). Given its location in the heart of Whitechapel, it’s no wonder that the museum showcases original material on the Jack the Ripper murders. There’s also a tribute to Edith Cavell, a nurse who worked tirelessly to improve healthcare standards whilst training nurses in London and abroad. She cared for soldiers in Belgium during the First World War and ultimately was executed for helping some escape occupation. Admission to the museum is free but donations are welcome.