London is famed for its incredible museums, whether it’s Van Gogh at the National Gallery, Newton at the Science Museum, or the Blue Whale at the Natural History Museum. These grand old institutions are often top of the list when it comes to a tour of the city’s sights.
But I’m here to tell you all those lists are dead wrong as they fail to include the best museum in London, Viktor Wynd’s Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art and Natural History, curated by its eponymous collector and artist.
Whilst on the face of it this may sound like a fairly normal museum collection, this cabinet of curiosities which lies beneath the streets of Cambridge Heath, East London, is unlike any gallery or museum you have ever seen before.
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The museum sits at number 11 Mare Street and the ground floor is occupied by the adjoining Last Tuesday Society Cocktail Bar. The bar itself is an extension of the weird and wonderful museum with animal skeletons and stuffed heads adorning every spare inch of wall space in the dark room.
Specialising in absinthe based concoctions, the bar serves as a reception area to the museum. Staff even recommend you to pick up a cocktail or glass of wine to bring with you when you walk around the exhibits.
At the time I visited in late January 2023, entry to the gallery itself was just £4 with a comically narrow spiral staircase taking me down into a gothic, immersive, beautiful, and horrifying set of rooms packed literally to the rafters with skeletons, stuffed animals, artworks, celebrity trinkets, news clippings and shrunken heads.
Setting the tone as one of the first items you’ll see on your way down the stairs is a monkey’s torso sewn to a fish’s tail and it just gets weirder from there.
The range on display is mind boggling for such a small gallery with only three to four small sized rooms and there is more than enough for repeat visits. Whether models of body parts or actual pickled pieces of human anatomy, if you’ve got the stomach for it there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
One of my personal favourite sections of the museum features a series of shoebox dioramas containing small mammals dressed up as characters, for example the mole fortune teller Moltar.
Elsewhere, a giant spider crab sees a collection of tiny insects acting out a dramatic scene on its back while an AK-47 and a handbag made from an armadillo share the cabinet below.
For anyone with a dark or blue sense of humour, the collection is an absolute treasure trove with hilariously arranged items and numerous raunchy books like ‘sex instruction for Irish farmers’ left lying around the cabinets.
In the same vein, the museum’s small spattering of celebrity artefacts are among its most outrageous. These include Russell Brand’s pubic hair, biscuit crumbs left by David Bowie after a visit he made and even a pair of jarred poos which claim to belong to both Amy Winehouse and Kylie Minogue.
The final room of the museum gives every visitor a chance to share a drink with half a taxidermized lion, its caged skeleton watching on while the table itself houses an actual human skeleton.
When I surfaced for some daylight after this I felt as though I’d just awoken from an absolute stonker of a fever dream. Stumbling out into daylight with a broad grin across my face my mind continued turning over the madness of it all.
Don’t get me wrong London’s museums are all great, but Viktor Wynd’s is something else entirely.
Why not check out the photos from my scary visit:
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