metropolitan life: THE shortlist TEN UNUSUAL MUSEUMS

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IN LONDON ...

Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret, 9a St Thomas's Street, London SE1 9RY (0171-955 4791). Not for the squeamish. Tues-Sun 10am-4pm. Admission pounds 2 adults, pounds 1 children.

Sir John Soane's Museum, 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3BP (0171- 405 2107 / 0171-430 0175). Soane's use of colour and mirrors has inspired a generation of interior designers. Tues-Sat 10am-5pm. Free.

MCC Museum, Lord's Cricket Ground, London NW8 8QN (0171-266 3825). Open to ticket-holders on match days, 10am-5pm, or to the public at tour times. pounds 4.95 adults, pounds 3.95 concessions.

Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA (0181-980 4315/3204 / 0181-980 2415). Childhood memorabilia. Mon-Thurs & Sat 10am-5.50pm, Sun 2.30pm-5.50pm. Free.

Kew Gardens Gallery, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond TW9 3AB (0181 332 5618). Flower paintings (some for sale). Open daily, 9.30am-5.30pm. pounds 4 adults, pounds 2 concessions.

American Museum in Britain, Claverton Manor, Bath BA2 7BD (01225 460503, 01225 463538). American decorative arts (left). Open Tues-Sun 2pm-5pm (and on Mondays in August). Admission pounds 5 adults, pounds 2.50 children.

Potter's Museum of Curiosity, Jamaica Inn Courtyard, Bolventor, nr Launceston, Cornwall PL15 7TS (01566 86838). A macabre collection of taxidermy including mummified squirrels (below). Open daily 10am-8pm; pounds 1.95 adults, pounds 1.50 concessions.

Russell-Cotes Art Gallery, East Cliff, Bournemouth BH1 3AA (01202 551009). An example of the Victorian mania for collecting. Open daily except Monday, 10am-5pm. Free.

Cadbury World, Linden Road, Bournville, Birmingham (recorded information 0121 451 4180). The history of chocolate sweetened with plenty of free samples. Open daily, 10am-5.30pm. Admission pounds 4.90 adults, pounds 3.35 children.

Cumberland Pencil Museum, Southey Works, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 5NG (01768 773626). Everything you ever (or never) wanted to know about pencils. Daily 9.30am-4pm; pounds 2 adults.

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