The Cinema Museum: A National Gem worth Visiting
They say London has a museum for everything, and as cliché, as it sounds, The Cinema Museum in Kennington proves it true. Once home to the legendary Charlie Chaplin, The Cinema museum uncovers cinema history from the days of black and white motion pictures to modern cinemas through its rich collection of film production exhibits.
The Story behind the Cinema Museum
The Cinema Museum in SE11 is the brainchild of Robert Grant’s and Martin Humphries’ passion for film. The duo began collecting exhibits from demolished cinemas and movie houses in 1979 to save single-screen cinemas from going extinct forever. They would bribe their way into condemned and recently-demolished cinemas to collect artifacts and then keep them in their apartments.
Grant and his partner donated some of these pieces to the now inoperative Museum of the Moving Image when they ran out of space. They used the rest to set up temporary exhibitions in different places, including the Raleigh Hall in Brixton and a former council rental office in Kennington. Luckily, it wasn’t long until Grant stumbled upon and set up shop at Old Lambeth Workhouse, setting the foundation for what would become The Cinema Museum.
The Workhouse made the perfect home for the museum as it’s also where Charlie Chaplin, an iconic filmmaker whose comedic explorations changed film forever, lived from age seven. It’s also a Grade II-listed building with a rich history of its own.
The Cinema Museum Today
The Cinema Museum today boasts a rich collection of film-related exhibits, including early films from renowned individuals and companies like Blackburn, popcorn cartons from the single-screen cinema era, black and white movie posters, to hundreds of film books and millions of film photos.
Although it only began with single-screen cinema memorabilia, The Cinema Museum today seeks to celebrate all aspects of cinema and modern motion pictures. There’s a shop on site with all sorts of cinema memorabilia , from original movie posters to tote bags as souvenirs. The museum also hosts film-related events regularly, so you might want to check its calendar to see what’ll be happening during your visit.
Schedule Your Visit Soon
Although The Cinema Museum is one of South London’s most prominent landmarks, it faces the same fate as most historical landmarks in London; regeneration.
The Old Lamberth Workhouse was sold to a property development company in 2018 and has since been put up for sale. Although petitions against regeneration are still ongoing, consider scheduling your visit soon to avoid missing out on this entirely fantastic cinema treasure trove. You can also help save the museum by signing a petition on the institution’s official website.
Getting to the Cinema Museum
The Cinema Museum is on 2 Dugard Way, just off Renfrew Road. Children’s tickets go for £7while adults need to pay £10 for admission. Concession stand tickets cost £7. Guided tours are also available, but you’ll need to book in advance.