The Cuming Museum
The Cuming Museum in Walworth Road, within the London Borough of Southwark, London, England, houses the collection of the Cuming family and is also a museum of Southwark's history.
Hailed as a 'British Museum in miniature' when it opened in 1906, this museum was the anthropological 'cabinet of curiosities' collected by father and son Richard and Henry Syer Cuming. Men of eclectic taste, their acquisitions were nothing if not diverse, encompassing natural history, ethnography, Egyptology, archaeology and the plain nutty.
Living in Southwark, the Cuming's were ideally placed to pick up all sorts of quirky goodies from around the globe — celebrity knick-knacks like King Alphonso of Spain's tooth, the leg of an Egyptian mummy, artefacts from Captain Cook's voyages as well as 'medieval antiquities' forged by 'Billy' and 'Charley', two enterprising Victorian mudlarks.
There are also objects from Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and fine Oceanic collections. Bygone superstitions to ensure health and wealth are the focus of the Lovett Collection, whilst among the costume collection there's a picturesque dentist's cap — trimmed with several mouthfuls of human teeth — and an Hawaiian feathered cape.
The Cuming Museum was fascinating port of call in Southwark until disaster struck in March 2013 when a fire devasted the old Walworth Town Hall, where the museum was located. A small part of the collection (about 5% of the 950 items on display) was lost in the fire and what remains (another 30,000 objects) is in storage, pending the rebuilding of the Town Hall.
No reopening dates were available at the time of going to press, but because of the complexity of the rebuilding project the museum is unlikely to see the light of day until about 2019. In the meantime, researchers can see items from the collection by appointment; would-be general visitors are advised to consult the museum's website page for events and developments.