Cinema Museum
Cinema Museum
For film enthusiasts, the museum focuses on the physical structure of the historic cinema, from projectors to ashtrays, as well as the ephemera of film marketing. A huge and varied collection to browse by guided tour, or for the serious archivist to get lost in.


The museum was established in 1986 by film enthusiasts Martin Humphries and Ronald Grant as a way to share their personal collections of cinema memorabilia and objects related to the history of cinemas and film. Since 1998 the museum has been housed in the historic administration block of the old Lambeth Workhouse in Kennington. The workhouse was opened in 1873 as a home for 820 destitute residents.

Though the workhouse might seem an odd place for a cinema museum, there is actually a link to the early history of cinema, for silent film star Charlie Chaplin lived in the workhouse as a child when his family was in dire financial circumstances.

The Collections

The word idiosyncratic is very apt to describe the Cinema Museum collection of memorabilia. The museum houses examples of everything remotely connected to the history of film production, exhibition, and the experience of going to the cinema from the earliest days of silent films, through the transition to 'talkies', up the modern cinema experience. You'll see examples of every type of projector ever made, even those produced by amateur film buffs.

Memorabilia includes over 1 million posters, photos, books, ashtrays, popcorn cartons, ushers' uniforma, tickets, and much more. The archives hold over 17 million feet of film. There are original art deco cinema carpets and seating from different time periods, even specially bound volumes of the industry magazine, 'The Cinema News and Property Gazette'.

The experience of cinema-going is brought to life by costumed volunteers dressed in original attendant's uniforms, making you feel like you are stepping back in time. There are regular special events and screenings.

The museum is open for pre-booked visits, so you'll need to plan a visit ahead of time. The closest tube station is Elephant and Castle.