London is well known for its huge range of major museums, and there’s not much I can tell you that you probably don’t already know. However, more recently, I’ve been really into uncovering those hidden gems of museums that are easy to miss, but just as impressive.
One of my favourite discoveries is the Museum of Cinema, dedicated to the experience of going to the cinema through the ages. Considering its small size, it holds an incredible collection of cinema artefacts and memorabilia. This Lambeth treasure trove is a nirvana for everyone from cinephiles to technicians, as well as historians, culture fans and even graphic design geeks.
In terms of the collection, it includes film posters, usher outfits, projectors, signs, ticket machines, seats, and a whole lot more across its two floors. While the place is relatively small, it has so much to see that I think I didn’t catch it all myself. The building itself is a former workhouse/hospital with the main screening room set in a former chapel, with fantastic ceilings and windows to look at.
The workhouse itself was actually home to Charlie Chaplin, who was a local to the area, and there’s a superb collection of works dedicated to him in the museum as well, including an impressively large sculpture by a local artist.
As part of the tour, you get free refreshments, followed by a presentation about what you can find in the museum, as well as a brief history of the workings of cinema. After that you’re free to explore the exhibits, after which you are invited to watch a selection of short films in their cinema.
The two hosts, Ronald and Martin, who run the Museum, were incredibly informative and happy to answer all sorts of questions. Not only do they operate the museum, but they themselves have sourced much of the collection from places that were set for demolition.
Definitely worth a visit, although you’ll need to plan way in advance as it’s only open for tours a couple of days each month.