7 Small and Unusual Museums in London

London is sprinkled with intriguing and unique small museums that may inspire you to skip the big museums of the British capital.

The London museum scene may be eclipsed by the National Gallery, the British Museum and the V&A, but the city is crammed with museums, many small and quirky and worthy of your attention. From exhibits of bizarre taxidermied beasts to surgical theaters where gruesome operations were performed, here are seven alternatives to put on your list.

View a Google Maps list of some of the best small museums in London.

British Dental Association Dental Museum

There's a British Dental Association? And British dentists? (Insert tired, clichéd joke about the once-sorry state of British dentistry and teeth.) But yes, there is a British dental museum and it's somewhat fascinating in the thousands of old dental instruments. You may dread going to the dentist but you may not dread going to this dental museum.

64 Wimpole St.

7 Best Small Museums in London
Churchill War Rooms at Whitehall, in a branch of the Imperial War Museum, London, UK, 28th March 1984. Fresco/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Churchill's War Rooms

An underground bunker used during World War II has been turned into a museum to Winston Churchill. Descend below the London streets and stroll around the rooms where Prime Minister Winston Churchill directed the British defense of the Nazi attack on London. You can see his bedroom where he even kept a chamber pot inscribed with the crest of King George VI.

Clive's Steps, King Charles St.

Grant Museum of Zoology

If you like animal oddities—and who doesn't?—then this is the museum for you. The museum holds 68,000 different specimens, but some of the highlights include the skeleton of a dodo bird, as well as the skulls, internal organs, skins of various beasts, both still existing and extinct.

21 University St.

Horniman Museum & Gardens

Located out in Forest Hill, far from the bustle of the center of London, this amazing museum houses an eccentric collection of remnants such has a massive taxidermied walrus, a gruesome torture chair, and an ancient Egyptian coffin, among hundreds of other minutiae of history.

100 London Rd.

Museum of Freemasonry

The first rule of Freemasonry: don't talk about Freemasonry. But famous Freemasons include George Washington, Ben Franklin, Mozart, Harry Houdini, Winston Churchill, Mark Twain, and Jonathon Swift, among many others. The secretive organization has a fascinating museum near Covent Garden. Go there and you may never view history the same way again.

60 Great Queen St.

Old Operating Theatre

In the late 18th century, surgeries were like theater. Case in point: this fascinating museum is a preserved operating theater, surgeries performed without anesthesia or even antiseptics. The curious and strong-stomached would watch amputations and other gruesome surgeries here. On weekends, there are fascinating talks visitors can attend on the topic of Victorian surgery.

9a St. Thomas St.

The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosity, Fine Art & Natural History

If the painting "Garden of Earthly Delights" by late-14th-century/early 15th-century painter Hieronymus Bosch—housed in the Prado Museum in Madrid—were to come to life it might look a lot like this great museum. There are taxidermied beasts, celebrity poop, two-headed mammals, strange hairballs, and even mermaids. Everything you've ever dreamed of in a museum.

11 Mare St.