Less obvious museums that are worth visiting in the British capital. There attract lot fewer tourists and many more locals.
Freud Museum is a mansion, where in 1939 Sigmund Freud moved with his family from Vienna, to escape German occupation. Freud's office with the legendary couch, on which patients opened the depth of their unconscious, has remained untouched. The chair by the sculptor Henry Moore, where the psychoanalyst used to work, also remained in its original condition, as well as his daughter Anna's room, who was the founder of ego psychology (which betrayed her father's work).
Here, you can again get convinced how well read the founder of psychoanalysis was: there are thousands of books and archeological finds. The most interesting one is the picture of one of his most popular patients, a Russian aristocrat Sergei Pankejeff better known as the wolf-man. Pankejeff tried to depict his recurring nightmare: wolves, sitting on a large tree and picking inside his bedroom window. This story not only became the foundation for the study of the castration complex, but also a starting point for all psychoanalysis of modern art.
Design Museum is located in a picturesque part of London, South Bank, among boats, shipyards and lofts. The exhibitions rotate often, and some of them occupy space outside. The museum was founded in 1989 and became the first museum dedicated to modern design. There were exhibitions of the shoe brand Manolo Blahnik and graphic designer Peter Saville. Toilet cabins, created by Australian industrial designer Marc Newson are, perhaps, the most remarkable thing. The museum doesn't belong to the local municipality, that's why there is an admission fee of £5–8.
Dulwich Gallery is the first and oldest picture gallery in England built to store art work. On display – masterpieces exclusively. Its collection boasts works by the Old Masters - Raphael, Rembrandt, Gainsborough. Meticulously designed by the architect John Soane, the building allows daylight to enter through the roof to enable painting viewing in the natural daylight. The gallery has been robber several times during 200 years of its existance. Rembrandt’s Jacob de Gheyn III was stolen three times, then anonymously returned, the story included into the Guinness Book of Records.
Your visit to the museum should include South London Gallery that often hosts great modern art exhibitions, lectures and film screenings.
Sir John Soane's Museum anticipates what is called a total installation, or an art collection, in modern art. The amount of items is so large, that they almost lean against each other, and don't offer any consistent story, which usually happens in museums. The owner of the house, architect Soane, appears more as an art curator, who classified items according to their similarity, rather than to the origin. His collection contains: Hogarth, Piranesi, antique rarities and much more.
The museum happens to be the house where Soane lived until his death in 1837. The building is one of the three projects that the architect had built for himself and his family. The house is located on the border of Westminster and Camden, on the biggest square of London, Lincoln's Inn Fields, where you can hang out on the grass on warm weather. It's important not to come on a rainy day - the owner collector would not want you to do that.
If you are a fan of British humor whether it's Monty Python or newspaper cartoons, be sure to visit the house of William Hogarth, the artist who turned caricature into high art. Walking through his former country house in Chiswick district, we can learn how the artist lived and created. Hogarth’s works are also displayed. For example the series “Marriage à-la-mode” ridicules aristocratic society morals and tells a story about ill-considered marriage for money: from signing a contract to the death of the husband and wife. The Earl dies in a duel, the Countess commits suicide and their little daughter has syphilis.
When you’ve had enough of Hogarth’s gloomy pictures and prints, head to a nearby park with magnificent mulberry trees. Once the artist’s family had a tradition to bake mulberry pies and give them to homeless children who sometimes took shelter at Hogarth’s house.
The Wallace Collection is a relatively small, but quality selection of paintings and applied arts (with accents on France) from the XV to the XIX centuries. Among the prides of the museum there are works of such masters as Rembrandt, Velázquez, van Dyck, Hals, Gainsborough, Titian, Fragonard and Boucher. Besides the famous paintings, you can also spot French furniture of the Rococo period, bronze, sculpture, porcelain and weapons. The gallery was first gifted to the son, born out of the wedlock, and later presented to the state by the widow. The famous Wallace fountains in Paris were also created by the same family.
The Geffrye Museum is dedicated to English interior and gardening. Visiting it somewhat reminiscent of going to IKEA, but only a thousand times more interesting. Here you can trace the major architectural styles popular among the representatives of the British middle class starting from the XVI century. Besides colorful graphics and interiors as such, you can listen to the stories about living in a particular period people, poems dedicated to the English garden, or arguments about the importance of women in the house. Children will enjoy the exhibition with the analysis of commonly used materials and types of wood, fabric and so on. The museum has a beautiful garden with herbs and spices.
I really enjoy a small museum of British conceptual artist John Latham, who is known primarily for his exhibitions of dissect books. The museum is located in the house where the master lived for over 20 years. Today, the archive of his work is stored there, as well as the research centre. The museum looks nothing like what we think of a “house-museum”. It functions as a living organism, the “body” of the artist. The museum is divided into several “organs”. For example, there is “the Face”, “the Brain”, “a Hand”. Besides the archive and Latham's collection, there are multiple exhibits, as well as lectures and even movies. Right now they are showing Latham's play “The Government of the First and Thirteen's Chair”. Unfortunately, the museum is open by appointment only, and is pretty far from the centre, in South London. But it's definitely worth visiting.
Named in honor of the collection founder Eric Estorick, this museum is a true treasure of Italian art. There are many works of futurists, such as Severini, Carra, Russolo, and Balla; metaphysical paintings by de Chirico and Morandi; salon portraits by Modigliani; and a soft Italian version of social realism, Novecento movement. Besides the paintings, there are many sculptures. For example, works of Medardo Rosso, who was one of the first to sculpture not only an object out of stone, but the atmosphere around it as well.
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