The British capital has historically been a city that likes to keep secrets, and its enigmatic side persists to this day. From hidden speakeasies to concealed passageways, there’s often more to London than meets the eye.
This is certainly true of the local creative scene, which keeps some of its most intriguing offerings out of plain sight. The following art spaces may take some effort to find, but culture-hounds willing to track them down will discover that the results are well worth the time.
The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History (Bethnal Green)
Often referred to as the Last Tuesday Society shop, this eccentric East London spot is the modern-day incarnation of an old-school Victorian curios store or Wunderkabinett. The selection in the ground floor museum is deliciously weird, encompassing everything from taxidermied animals and obscure tomes to shrunken heads and tribal art.
If you can pry yourself away from all the oddities, the second story of The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History has a semi-secretive art gallery. As one might expect, exhibitions vary enormously but tend to err on the strange side here, in keeping with the vibe of the rest of this utterly unique museum.
Should you feel compelled to discuss what you’ve seen after perusing the offerings, there’s a small cocktail and tapas bar on the ground floor. The museum also hosts a lecture series from London’s longest-running literary salon. Presentations might entail anything from the history of Britain told through drinks to a discussion about the artistic history of tattoos.
The Crypt Gallery (Kings Cross – St Pancras)
The unusual name is more than a mere moniker—this spooky spot is sequestered away in the depths of St. Pancras Church, a grand old Gothic cathedral a short stroll from Kings Cross & St Pancras. Architects intended to use the subterranean space as a final resting place for coffin burials when they built it in 1822.
Though the final burial was in 1954, it wasn’t until 2002 that the church injected new life into this stone vault by converting it into a gallery. Today, 557 bodies still slumber peacefully in the walls of the The Crypt Gallery, an evocative space that invites artists whose works inspire contemplation.
Village Underground (Shoreditch)
Situated in converted century-old warehouse in achingly hip Shoreditch, this space hosts everything from indie rock concerts to avant-garde theatre to edgy performance art. The Village Underground is much more than a venue, though.
Fully functioning studio spaces line the corridors of this quirky collective, which is home to up to 50 creatives from all sorts of different disciplines at any given time. Though most performances have an admission fee, it won’t cost you anything to see the elaborate graffiti murals tucked away in this essential piece of the East London art scene, not too far from Hotel Indigo London- AldgateEast.
Be sure to check out the works on Holywell Lane, the largest wall dedicated to street art in the whole city. Local and international artists fully repaint this canvas every three months, so there’s almost always something new to see.