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The Cuming Museum in Walworth Road in Elephant and Castle, within the London Borough of Southwark, London, England, houses the collection of the Cuming family and is also a museum of Southwark's history.
Richard Cuming (1777–1870) started his collecting life when he was only five with some fossils and a coin that had been given to him by a family friend. That ignited a passion for collecting, which lasted for his lifetime. He made his first significant purchases in 1806 at the sale of the Leverian Museum. His interests covered geology, scientific equipment and animalia. The collection was bequeathed to the people of Southwark by his son, Henry Syer Cuming, in 1902, and the museum opened in 1906. As described in Cuming's will, it comprised "My Museum illustrative of Natural History, Archaeology and Ethnology with my coins and medals and... other curios".
The museum galleries were moved from the first floor of the Newington Public Library to the building next door, the former Walworth Town Hall, in 2006. That made the museum much more accessible. The former town hall is Grade 2 listed and an interesting vestry hall of the 1860s.
Also of interest is that at the end of this block of buildings, on Larcom Street, Charles Babbage, the Victorian mechanical computer pioneer, was born in 1791 although the original house has been demolished. A blue plaque records his birth.
On 25 March 2013, a fire seriously damaged the Walworth Town Hall. The collections suffered only a very small loss, but the museum galleries were very severely affected. Around 98% of objects on display at the time of the fire were recovered and are now safely stored awaiting a solution to the display of the collections and public access to them.
Cuming Museum Reviews
I visited this interesting museum a few months before the fire, I hope that most of the artefacts were restored. Lots of fascinating objects from all over the globe, collected by the Cuming family on.... more »
The museum is a small place, where you can see different collections from Africa, Oceania, Europe, Asia. more »
Lovely, free local council museum but has a lot more to offer than just local history. The first room has displays with lots of drawers you can open and activities to remove and try. Then there's a temporary exhibition space which had a Dickens exhibition when I visited which was easily the standard of a larger museum. Sure, it's in Elephant and Castle but don't be put off as well worth a visit.
An unexpected pleasure! Reminiscent of the Horniman museum in Forest Hill.
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Duration:2 h 30 min
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