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Arts & Museums
As you can guess from the name, this unique museum's amusing displays of mechanical toys and sculptures border on the bizarre but it isn't really cabaret. What started out as a quirky crafts shop in Cornwall evolved into a popular exhibition of coin-operated mechanical toys. Described by the founders as the amalgam of art, craft and business, the shop sells handmade automata, mechanical wooden kits, books and videos.
Edel Assanti is a chic contemporary art space that strives to promote emerging artists and encourage alternative artistic styles. Departing from old-fashioned art forms, expect to be treated to an unusual array of creative styles and installations here. Check their website for a list of upcoming events.
Plus One Gallery brings contemporary hyperrealism art to the forefront of British art culture. Regular exhibitions are held showcasing works of artists like Ben Johnson, Pedro Campos, Craig Wylie, Andrew Tift and Philip Harris. The artwork is not just limited to paintings but also bronze sculptures and mix media works bearing the themes of portrait/human, urban/landscape and still life. Check out their website for exhibition schedules and other updates.
Art Sensus makes the most of its location in the touristy area which is dotted with cafes and art galleries. This gallery seeks to help international artists from Eastern Europe and Russia to collaborate their works with their counterparts in London. The result is an interesting blend of artwork that is lapped up by the city's art collectors and aficionados. Call for more details.
Philips, an enterprise with a long legacy, was started in 1796 by Harry Philips. In 2003 Simon de Pury took over and established a headquarters in Chelsea, New York. The gallery in London, offers a platform for various contemporary artists to showcase their artworks. while displaying a great collection of jewelry, photographic works and designs. Well renowned photographers have their works features here; Henri Cartier-Bresson, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and others. Visitors can also purchase some fabulous jewelry made of exquisite jewels.
Located in London's Buckingham Palace, Queen's Gallery is a place where you can view fine art from the Royal Collection itself. The gallery exhibits pieces from renowned artists, such as Rubens and Vermeer, that have belonged to monarchs for centuries. Also, artifacts such as jewelry, furniture, and sculptures are on display. Those with a London Pass can be admitted for free.
The Saatchi Gallery is as controversial and joyful as its owner is, business person Charles Saatchi. With past glories such as the discovery of Damien Hirst's 'Formaldehyde Shark', this gallery offers a fantastic opportunity to sneak a peak at the next bright young things in the world of the now famous YBAs (Young British Artists). It's best to call before going, as there is not always a special exhibition on. Free admissions for all shows. Check website for further details.
King Charles II established The Royal Hospital Chelsea in 1692 as a home for retired soldiers, a purpose it still fulfills today. The historic Restoration-era buildings are open to the public, and several of the halls are available for hire. A variety of events are held throughout the year, including readings and musical performances. Check their website, or call for details on upcoming events.
Dedicated to all things Italian, the Italian Cultural Institute is the best way to go to Italy without ever leaving England. The Institute hosts a wide range of annual and monthly events, so be sure to check for updates on events. There are usually a small number of items by Italian artists, photographers and sculptors on display. In addition, Italian language courses, lectures, presentations, film festivals and author readings happen regularly. Hands-down, this is one of the best cultural centers in the city.
If you've ever wanted to know the history behind the Guards of the British Army, then this place will answer all your questions. There's plenty of war relics on display, from cannons to 30+ different uniforms. The museum even houses a gift shop that abounds with toy soldiers. Admission: Adult GBP3.
If you've been to Chelsea, you may have spotted pensioners sporting full ceremonial military garb - red uniform coat, medals, and even a tricorn hat. The National Army Museum commemorates the lives and times of proud veterans such as these, and is a popular attraction for young and old. If you want to see more of Britain's military history, then visit this museum and see uniforms, medals, weapons, paintings and more. The museum also has a library where the public have access to treasured books, periodicals, memoirs and photographs. Admission is free.
Apsley House stands at Hyde Park Corner in the center of London and is often referred to as 'Number One London' due to the fact that it was the first house past the tollgates at Knightsbridge. It was the home of the first Duke of Wellington and shows much of his history and his excellent art collection, including an enormous naked statue of Napoleon. Part of it still accommodates the current Duke of Wellington and it is run by English Heritage as a museum and art gallery. It is a grade one listed building with rooms being kept in the original style and decor where possible.