Sir John Soane’s Museum
Just inside what appears to be three standard London town houses near Holborn, is the old home of architect, Sir John Soane. Today, this is a museum which is free to the public, however under the request of Sir John Sloane’s will – the layout of the buildings have not been touched with everything remaining exactly the same as the day he died. To paint a picture of why this place is so special – the insides of these buildings have been completely changed, with the upstairs quarters revealing lavish home decor, and the downstairs sporting a crypt of many treats and wonders.
Soane loved to travel, and picked up many artefacts from his journeys (including an Egyptian Mummy), he also owned a wonderful collection of paintings including works by Hogarth, Turner and Canaletto. The museum often boasts temporary art exhbitions.
The British Museum
When one thinks of The British Museum, they don’t immediately think of art. But if you travel right to back of the building, you will find a gallery (that’s often quiet) containing some beautiful prints and drawings from throughout history. Here you will find important pieces of art by Dürer, Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt and Goya.
Leake Street Tunnel
This tunnel runs directly under Waterloo Station and all 300m of its walls are covered in Street Art. Banksy held The Cans Festival here in 2008, during the festival artists from around the world came to cover the walls with their creations. Street Art has been legal in Leake Street Tunnel ever since.
With East London now the London hub of contemporary art, many of the galleries partake in ‘First Thursdays’ – which means on the first Thursday of every month, galleries stay open late for Private Views, workshops and lectures. This is a great opportunity to see work by established and emerging artists as well as other arty events. Many of the galleries are walking distance apart so you can spend the evening meandering between them. If you rather have some guidance, The Whitechapel Gallery offers bus tours of selected galleries.
The Blackfriar Pub
This pub was built in 1875 on the grounds of a former Medieval Dominican Friary. The pub was later remodelled in 1905 by an architect, who filled the inside of the pub with Medieval themed Art Noveau sculptures (yes, we know that’s a contradictory description) by Frederick T. Callcott, Nathanial Hitch, Farmer and Brindley and Henry Poole. The pub itself is tiny but filled to the brim with unusual artworks in the form of mosaics, stain glass windows and metalworks.