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A peek at one of the exhibitions at the Churchill War Rooms in London.

Visiting London is all about the big attractions: Big Ben looming overhead, taking in the skyline from the London Eye, spending hours in the British Museum, or cruising along the River Thames under the London Bridge. How about the little museums though? They deserve your attention. From the weird and wacky to the specific and educational, there are close to a hundred small, independently run museums scattered throughout London and its boroughs. See London like a local and check out our list of the 10 best, small museums in London and adjust your travel itinerary accordingly.

Cartoon Museum

Tucked away on a side street a few blocks from the gargantuan British Museum is the Cartoon Museum. It’s easy to miss the entry, but worth seeking out as it’s primary mission is to preserve and promote British cartoons, comics and caricature. The exhibits have cartoons that date back to the 18th century to current day comic strips. Playful and popular cartoon strips featuring The Bash Street Kids, Billy the Whizz and Dennis the Menace are shown alongside rarer and more politically minded works; if you take cartoons really seriously, you can also make an appointment to access the museum’s library, where comic book connoisseurs can study examples of the medium even closer.

Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising

You’re probably wondering if this is just a place full of empty boxes and things. In all honesty, it is but you may be shocked at just how much nostalgia is associated with those empty packages and adverts. The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising seeks to consciously consider our relationships with the brands we see day-in and day-out. The crowded museum is well-stocked with over 12,000 original items, including hundreds of brands and packages you will recognize and connect with.

The Crime Museum

London has plenty of macabre museums, but perhaps the most morbid of them all is The Crime Museum. It’s better known as The Black Museum, at New Scotland Yard. The museum is home to a seriously extensive number of weapons that were used to commit murders or serious assaults in London. Part of its collection includes items used by Jack the Ripper and Charlie Peace. The cases that are connected to the items on display are shocking, emotive and sometimes hard to process and perhaps for that reason the museum isn’t open to the general public. To this day though, members of the police forces can gain access to the museum to hold lectures on forensic science, pathology, law, and investigative techniques.

Geffrye Museum

If you like interior design, you will be charmed by the Geffrye Museum. Based in a series of connected 18th century almshouses, the museum shows typical middle-class living quarters in a succession of period rooms. Visitors will begin their journey in a traditional 17th century living space and gradually work their way through rooms that go up to the present day. In addition to the rooms, there are period gardens in the grounds that follow a similar layout. So, try to visit on a sunny day for even more design adventures outside the Museum.

Magic Circle Museum

Have you always wanted to know how the magicians pulled off their biggest tricks? Visit the Magic Circle Museum by Euston Station where you can gain insight into how the world’s greatest illusionists operate. Accompanied by guides, visitors can see props used by Harry Houdini, the rifles used for Maurice Fogel’s ‘bullet catch’ and hundreds of rare posters advertising some of the most famous magicians ever.

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote that his fictional characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson lived at 221b Baker Street and that is the location of the real-life Sherlock Holmes Museum. While the men never existed, the museum does a great job of creating a setting that seems authentic. With the resurrection of this story in the BBC’s popular Sherlock show, visits to 221b Baker Street are constantly full so plan in advance if you want to join the hoards of fans at this museum. The space itself takes over a couple of stories of a building and is crammed with antique artefacts that could have been used by the sleuth and his associate.

World Rugby Museum

The World Rugby Museum is home to one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of rugby memorabilia. Trophies, historical photographs and early match programmes and tickets are typically on display, along with thousands of other artefacts. If you visit the museum, consider timing your visit to coincide with one of the tours of Twickenham Stadium so you can walk around the pitch, the players’ tunnel and see the dressing room.

Fashion and Textile Museum

Operated by Newham College, the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey concerns itself with all things relating to fashion, textile and jewellery. Temporary displays show off the different styles of dress and fashion that men and women have followed through the year while additionally trying to figure out how these trends came to be. See the progression of pattern use in fashion and see how the curators here regularly develop shows that consider the influence of past fashion innovators or promote emerging design talents.

Horniman Museum

The only reason the Horniman Museum isn’t more popular is because of its suburban location. Here, crowds won’t jostle you as you survey the eclectic collection at the museum. Its core objects were curios collected by Frederick John Horniman in Victorian times; including displays will all manner of objects relating to anthropology, music and natural history. Most famous is the museum’s massive stuffed walrus but keep your eyes peeled for the bizarre merman sculpture fashioned from paper-maché. The free museum is also flanked by 16-acre gardens, which are also open to the public. There are tons of other free museums and attractions in London, so make a day (or week) of it an try to see them all.

Churchill War Rooms and Museum

The Churchill War Rooms and Museum is a fascinating belowground museum that lets visitors see the crucial military epicentre as it was at the end of Britain’s war effort in 1945. An intriguing addition to the space, the Churchill Museum is the only major museum anywhere dedicated entirely to Sir Winston Churchill. The exhibit examines his life in detail and discusses the massive contribution he made to the war effort. If you like Churchill, this is a must-see attraction.

The odd, the unusual and the sometimes forgotten have all found homes in museums around the world. In London specifically, these museums are dedicated to preserving the oft-overlooked parts of history to ensure any who are interested can learn more. If you like going off-the-beaten-path, take a day in London and add a few of these small, yet great British museums to your must-see list to shake up your itinerary. To prevent any other shake ups that you don’t want during your stay in London, consider cover for your holiday.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Pedro Veloso