From wonderfully weird to contagiously curious, East London is abundant with history and has some fantastic museums highlighting the communities that live and collect in this great part of the capital.
Museum of London Docklands gives you the opportunity to learn about the rich history of how the docks transformed London and made this great city into the metropole we know and love today. Learn about East London’s working-class women and their struggle for liberation or find out more about the dark side of London with the slave trade legacy mapped out.
The Barbican is one of London’s best brutalist buildings and Europe’s largest performing arts centre. Here you can enjoy cutting edge exhibitions, take part in the London animation festival, catch a movie or watch a music performance in the music hall. Take a gander throughout the Barbican Estate, enjoy the outdoor gardens or the indoor oasis that is the Barbican Conservatory.
Sutton House is one of Hackney’s oldest houses and is located by a repurposed car breakers' yard. This National Trust property was originally built in 1535 for Henry VIII’s first secretary of state, Sir Ralph Sadleir and still maintains a lot of original features. The yard is home to upcycled vehicles, including a bus-turned-greenhouse. The Tudor house became occupied by squatters in the 1980s and you can still find a lot of their artwork within the property.
The Victor Wynd Museum is a tiny curious little museum where you can find and observe the strange and the wonderful whilst enjoying a tipple in the onsite bar. Think Damian Hirst style artworks including two headed animals, an eight-legged lamb and loads of skulls. There is a large coral aquarium, a variety of late-night lectures and the death mask of Napoleon. This little Hackney gem is worth a visit.
William Morris Gallery is the place to go if you’re into impressive Victorian flowery wallpaper, printed and woven fabrics or painted tiles. The designer, craftsman, writer, conservationist and socialist Morris lived here with his widowed mother and his eight brothers and sisters from the age of fourteen until he was twenty-two. Expect lots of 19th and 20th century art as well as domestic objects from the era.
Hackney Museum is a small but informative museum where you can explore the fascinating stories behind Hackney folks through the ages. Learn about the Anglo-Saxon settlers, the Victorians, refugees and yuppie families as well as the annual carnival celebration and more.
Ragged School Museum will show you just how much education has changed throughout the ages. You can take a step back into the Victorian era complete with creaky old floorboards that would make Charles Dickens' novels proud. Learn and experience a small portion of life in one of the first free schools in London in the 19th century as you take a seat at the school desks and even hop into a tin bath.