A film, food, travel & lifestyle blog by Sophie Elizabeth

4 February 2017

Film Event: The Cinema Museum, London

The Cinema Museum
The Cinema Museum had been on my list of places to visit for a while and, with my best friend staying with me in London, it seemed the perfect opportunity to finally see one of the city's best kept secrets. Located just a short walk from Elephant and Castle train station, here's a glimpse inside a cinephile's paradise...

The Cinema Museum London
The Cinema Museum Elephant and Castle
When I first truly fell in love with film, it was for the history and spectacle behind it. I've always been fascinated by the stories of cinema-goers turning round to watch the projector in amazement, and that movie images of a train coming in to a station would cause people to jump out of their seats, believing it would hit them. To this day, no matter how much I learn about film and film history, it baffles me how it has evolved from hand-painted single frames, the likes of special effects from Georges Méliès, to the CGI we are accustomed to today. And so you can imagine why the Cinema Museum would be top of my list of places to visit. 

Situated inside a former Victorian workhouse (once home to a young Charlie Chaplin), the Cinema Museum showcases the largest collection of cinema memorabilia in the country. Featuring signs and posters, architectural fittings and original projectors, the charity has been collecting pieces from old movie theatres for over twenty years. As well as featuring more than one million vintage photographs, it also has a substantial collection of hand-painted promotional posters, usher uniforms and, of course, an archive of films and reels. 

Memorabilia at the Cinema Museum
The London Cinema Museum
Inside the Cinema Museum
Visits to the Cinema Museum are currently by prearranged appointments only as they require a volunteer tour guide. At first, I was little put off by this as the introvert inside me finds it a bit awkward. However, having now been, I can honestly say that the tour really adds to the experience. Lucky for myself and Vanessa, it was a quiet Friday afternoon and so we were treated to a private tour for just us two; meaning we could ask any questions and spend as much time as we wanted flicking through boxes and looking at props. Starting in the downstairs lobby, we made our way through the corridors and up to the main hall which is often used for private screenings, events and filming. We finished up our tour with a screening of four short films taken from the museum's personal archive - showcasing projection and London through the decades. 

Charlie Chaplin Cinema Museum
The Cinema Museum decor
London Cinema Museum
The Cinema Museum screenings
Elephant and Castle Cinema Museum
Steeped in nostalgic value, the Cinema Museum is well worth the visit for hard-core film fans. I absolutely loved walking round and looking at the old ticket stubs, the posters and other weird and wonderful pieces of memorabilia. Whilst it is certainly unlike any museum I have ever visited, I loved how unique  the building was - even if it wasn't exactly what I expected it to be. 

I'm so glad that places like this exist. Following the mysterious closure of the London Film Museum, I'm finding that there are less and less places which celebrate film history in such a way. Luckily, this particular museum now has charitable status but since they rely on funding from visitors, it's definitely worth a visit and spreading the word to help it gain support. They also host a number of film events and screenings so keep an eye out for their calendar. 

Tickets for the Cinema Museum are available on the day and priced at £10 for adults or £7 for concessions/children and include a 90 minute guided tour. For more details about visiting, you can see their website. But tell me, have you been to the Cinema Museum? What are some of your favourite hidden gems to visit? As always, I love reading your comments so please do leave me lots of lovely ones down below. 

Until next time film fans,



  1. This looks like a really nice experience. And you and your friend Vanessa got the opportunity to see some short films. Do they do that often on pre-arranged tours or was this something special for you?

    From reading your posts, I can tell how passionate you are about film :) It must be so satisfying to have gotten your degree in it.. Your mention of Georges Méliès reminded me of Hugo (2011) which Martin Scorsese directed. It's nice when filmmakers acknowledge the past.

    IIRC, Truffaut had a dedication in the beginning of one of his films to Dorothy and Lillian Gish (it might have been Day for Night?). That reminds me of a 2015 documentary on Hitchcock/Truffaut that I haven't seen yet.

    In film-related news, have you heard that IMDb is shutting down its message boards as of Feb 20? It's become an unfriendly place where personal attacks abound and people shout about politics (in a mostly unintelligent way). So I imagine the studios complain about it as well as the celebrities who have message boards there. Are there some alternative places for online discussion (besides your blog) that you can recommend, Sophie? I was thinking about Reddit or the forum at Rotten Tomatoes.

    BTW, what do you think of Rotten Tomatoes? In my view, the fresh rating is worthless as a measurement. The number below it showing the average rating is the most important figure. Also, it's better to click on the tab that's shows what top critics think rather than all critics. The audience rating at the right is more important than the fresh rating, imo.

    I hope you have been having a wonderful time with your friend Vanessa visiting, Sophie!

  2. It was really lovely :) Yes, all visits are by tour only so you have to email to prearrange.

    Yes I absolutely live for it, especially film history. I actually have the moon with the rocket in it's eye from A Trip to the Moon tattooed on my leg as it's always been a stand out film to me and I just adore all the early special effects. It is exciting when I see references to old filmmakers :)

    In all honestly, I've never been one for online forums/discussion boards but I imagine Reddit still has hundreds? I tend to use IMDB for any reviews/star ratings as I tend to agree more with their scoring. I feel that Rotten Tomatoes can sometimes over dramatise and make films out to be better/worse than they really are.

    Thank you, it was a lovely weekend :) hope you're well too?

  3. this looks well worth the visit! My dad is a massive cinema fan and loves all things related. I'm sure he would love to have a look around! thanks for the tip!
    Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

    1. Aw awesome, yeah maybe he'd like it then :) No worries at all, thanks for reading xx

  4. This looks wonderful, Sophie! If I'm ever in London then I must visit here. Like you, I love all things cinema also. It's so pleasing to see your love of cinema and see how passionate you are about film. Another great post

    Ashley xx

    1. Aw that's really sweet Ashley, thank you so much :) Thanks for the continued support xx

  5. This looks incredible! I've seen this pop up a few times when searching for filmy things to do in London, but wasn't sure if it was worth the trip. Seeing this post gets me all excited though! I've got a few friends who love film, and one of them particularly loves Charlie Chaplin, so I'm definitely going to suggest this as a day out in the near future. Just looking at all the reels, old seats and lights is getting me excited - what a gem! :-)

    1. Aw yeah in that case I think you'd really like it. It's only a small place so I think you could probably be there for less than an hour (depending on your group size) but it's such a cute (but weird and wonderful) place :) xx

  6. This sounds and looks like such a fascinating place to visit!

    Meg | Elmpetra

    1. Yeah it was certainly interesting haha. It was so bizarre and strange but I loved it too haha x


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