- Learn all about the fascinating history of dentistry and dental hygiene at the British Dental Association Museum.
- Examine the Victorian artefacts such as bone toothbrushes, teeth extraction tools and much more.
- Don’t miss the interesting and specific temporary exhibitions that take place at the museum throughout the year.
If you’re looking for a free museum in London to bring the children, check out the British Dental Association Museum. This location is one of the smaller museums in central London with a very specific and interesting niche: the history of dentistry in Britain. It boasts a wide collection of artefacts which are all about teeth that will have your jaw hit the floor. The permanent collection combined with the unique temporary exhibitions means that there is a lot to see and learn about within the small space. It is sure to appeal to children with an interest in biology as well as history and it makes for an unusual, yet very enjoyable family day out.
The British Dental Association Museum originated in the year 1919 with a generous donation from Lillian Lindsay, the first female dentist in Britain. She had kept a small collection of Victorian dental instruments in a box under her bed. Located in the BDA building, the museum officially opened to the public in 1967 and has since become a brilliant learning resource for the general people as well as dentists in training. Over the years the collection has grown to hold over 30,000 items of interest. From fine art to records and hundred year old toothpaste, there are so many unusual yet fascinating things to see and learn about here.
Take a step back in time by exploring the Victorian-era artefacts on display in the British Dental Museum. These items bring visitors through a timeline of the development of dentistry and oral hygiene, both in practice and in the media. Some things like the Waterloo Teeth and the Clockwork Drill have gruesome backgrounds, whereas others like the comedic pieces from the Dental Art Collection will make you crack a smile. The wide range of artefacts in this collection is very impressive, there is something in store here that will appeal to everyone in the family.
Another special feature of this museum that will appeal to the artistically inclined is the St Apollonia stained glass window. This particular piece was purchased from a church in Somerset and has made a permanent home in the British Dental Museum. St Apollonia is the patron saint of toothache sufferers. The stories surrounding her are not very well known but they are extremely interesting to learn about. The mythology and craft surrounding this medieval art piece is very impressive and quite different to the other pieces in the museum’s collection.
The British Dental Museum in London also holds interesting temporary exhibitions that give light to specific areas within the world of British dentistry. Past exhibitions have included the 200 Years of the Toothbrush display, an exhibition that took viewers through the development of this revolutionary invention. They also organise exhibitions based around the pioneers of oral hygiene such as Maurice Porter, a dentist who specialised his work around wind instrument musicians, and Eric Cooper, a dentist who served in the Royal Army Marine Corps during World War II. There are always exciting things going on here that visitors can learn something new from.
What to know before you go
- The British Dental Association Museum is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1pm to 4pm.
- There are no food vendors within the museum however there are plenty of cafés and restaurants nearby.
- There are toilets, including wheelchair-accessible toilets, available on site.
- The British Dental Association Museum is suitable for wheelchair users.
- Induction loops are available for visitors who need them upon request.
- Assistance dogs are welcome in the museum.
- The British Dental Association Museum is located on Wimpole Street in Marylebone.
- The closest Tube stations are Oxford Circus, which is on the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines, and Bond Street, which is on the Central and Jubilee lines, both about a 10-minute walk from the museum.
- The nearest rail stations to the museum are Euston and Kings Cross. These are both Underground stations too.
- The following bus routes all have stops on Wimpole Street nearby the museum: 2, 13, 18, 27, 30, 98, 189.
- There are multiple car parks in the vicinity of the museum. Visitors can choose from a pay-and-display area in the streets nearby or get a space in the Q-Park on Cavendish Street.
- There are a number of free accessible parking spots spread around the area for blue badge holders to avail of.