On this page, you can follow the progress of my ongoing project to visit and map out landmarks, museums, other sites related to science and medicine in London, United Kingdom. Navigate through the sites using the map below, or scroll down and read the individual site descriptions.
1. House of Charles Darwin
Where the UCL Darwin Building now stands is at the site of the former home of Charles Darwin, famous for his theory of natural selection. The house, located 12 Gower Street, is commemorated by a blue plaque outside.
2. Wellcome Collection
The Wellcome Collection at 183 Euston Road is a museum like no other. Featuring an astounding number of medical artifacts collected by Sir Henry Wellcome (1853-1936) throughout his travels around the world, this museum is home to such artifacts as Charles Darwin’s walking sticks and Napoleon’s toothbrush. The Medicine Man and Medicine Now permanent exhibits are incredible explorations in anthropology, medicine and science, from antiquity to modern times. Free admission.
3. Science Museum
London’s Science Museum at Exhibition Road in South Kensington is a marvelous example of brilliant science communication. The intelligently-curated History of Medicine exhibit is a highlight, as are many of the famous objects on display, including Watson and Crick’s original 1953 model of DNA and various artifacts owned by famous scientists such as Louis Pasteur and Joseph Lister. Free admission.
4. Hunterian Museum
Perhaps my favourite medical museum ever, the Hunterian Museum, located in the building of The Royal College of Surgeons of England, 35-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, has an astoundingly good collection of preserved human and animal anatomical specimens. No scientific visit to London could be complete without seeing this museum. Free admission.
5. Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum
For pharmacy nerds, this little museum is heaven. Drugs, dispensing equipment, containers, mortars, and photographs are all on display in the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Museum at 1 Lambeth High Street. The ground floor reception area houses quite a few artifacts and can be visited for free at any time, but pre-booked tours are required to view other parts of the collection.
6. House of Dr. James Parkinson
In 1817, James Parkinson published “An Essay on the Shaking Palsy” about a neurological disorder that came to be known as “Parkinson’s Disease”. The house that Parkinson once lived in is located here, at 1 Hoxton Square in Shoreditch, and is commemorated by a blue plaque out front. Why not have a drink in the name of Dr. Parkinson here?
7. National Portrait Gallery
The impressive National Portrait Gallery, located at 2 St. Martin’s Place near Trafalgar Square, is home to painted and photographic portraits of a panoply of famous figures. Of particular note for science nerds are various original portraits and busts of great figures such as Charles Darwin, Thomas Henry Huxley, Sir Charles Lyell, Sir Isaac Newton, and Alfred Russel Wallace. Free admission.
8. Natural History Museum
Although some of the exhibits are a bit dated, the Natural History Museum (located at Cromwell Road) has a curious mix of zoology, ecology, biology, geology, and paleontology. Worth a visit for the awe-inspiring architecture of the building, the colossal fossils, and Charles Darwin’s epic statue by the staircase. Free admission.
9. Tower Bridge
This London landmark is one of the most famous bridges in the world, and is a feat of engineering excellence. The interesting Tower Bridge Exhibition goes into a lot of detail about the design and building of the bridge. The more scientific side of things comes through the Engine Room, which provides an interactive view of how the bridge’s raising mechanism works.
10. London Film Museum (Covent Garden)
At the time that I visited the London Film Museum in Covent Garden (45 Wellington Street), there was only a single, tiny exhibit which displayed the various technologies that gave rise to modern film-making. The old film-making technologies are fascinating, but the highlights from a scientific standpoint are the stills from physiology films used to study animal movement. Free admission.
11. Imperial College London
This university hosts a variety of interesting science communication events that are free for the public, including the Imperial Fringe events. One recent Fringe event featured the neuroscience of juggling and other quirky topics.
12. The Monument to the Great Fire of London
The Monument to the Great Fire of London was built to commemorate the fire of 1666, which ravaged the City of London. Climbing up the 311 steps to the top of the Monument (£3 for adults) gives you a spectacular view of London. The science connection is through Dr. Robert Hooke, who assisted Sir Christopher Wren in designing the structure. Hooke is well known for his contributions to microscopy (he coined the word “cell”) and physics (“Hooke’s Law” of elasticity), among various subjects. Interestingly, Hooke and Wren included a laboratory in the cellar of the Monument, and had originally intended to include a zenith telescope for viewing the stars.