MGM 2005: Gardens & West End Glitz - Discover Hidden London

By David Prudames Published: 27 May 2005

Shows a photograph of Diarmuid Gavin and Loyd Grossman walking through Chelsea Physic Garden.

Diarmuid Gavin gives Loyd Grossman a few tips as they peruse the Chelsea Physic Garden. © 24 Hour Museum.

As crowds poured into Chelsea Flower Show and ticket touts went about their business in the May sunshine, a little hidden oasis just down the road provided a calm setting for the launch of a different kind of tourist venture in the capital.

Amid the pleasant surroundings of Chelsea Physic Garden TV gardener Diarmuid Gavin and Loyd Grossman, chair of the Campaign for Museums, launched 11 new trails that offer the adventurous a tour through London’s lesser known gems.

Devised as part of this year’s Museums and Galleries Month celebrations, the Discover London Trails link up over 80 of the capital’s smaller museums and galleries.

Launching the trails Loyd Grossman described them as "very much a recognition that London is the pre-eminent museums city in the world."

Shows a photograph of Diarmuid Gavin and Loyd Grossman sitting on a bench at Chelsea Physic Garden with an array of plant life in front of them.

Taking a brief moment out from his busy Chelsea Flower Show schedule, Diarmuid was on hand to launch the Discover London Trails with Loyd. © 24 Hour Museum.

From historic gardens to great engineering triumphs, the trails set out designated routes through areas of the city each of which takes in a number of institutions and historic sites.

Created by the Campaign for Museums in partnership with the Greater London Authority the trails are downloadable as PDFs from a number of websites, including the .

"London is the most international city in the world and the most diverse," said Judith Woodward, representing the Mayor of London’s Office. "That is true across its people, it’s true across the way the economy works and it’s true about our fantastic cultural offer."

Shows a photograph of a man holding up the lid from a giant teapot.

The Bramah Tea and Coffee Museum in Southwark features in the Historic Gardens Museum Trail. © 24 Hour Museum.

Helping create these trails, she added, was a chance to spread the word a bit wider about the smaller museums and galleries of the capital: "There are a huge number of museums all over London where you can pursue any interest you have," she said.

Some of the trails are geographical and some have been themed around particular areas of interest such as arts and crafts or houses once lived in by great literary figures.

For Diarmuid Gavin the tour of historic gardens, which takes in Chelsea Physic Garden, the Museum of Garden History, Bramah Tea and Coffee Museum and the Geffrye Museum, is the highlight.

"It’s a trail of sight, smell and sensation" he said, describing museums that explore garden history and have plants for exhibits. "They’re probably the only museums of living history."

Shows a photograph of Loyd Grossman listening to an audio tour of historic gardens in London.

Antenna Audio have put together audio versions of the trails which can be downloaded from their website. © 24 Hour Museum.

Audio tours for each trail have also been created by Antenna Audio and can be downloaded free from the company's website, while Printable versions are available on the Mayor's Office website as well as the Museums and Galleries Month site and, of course, .

Museums and Galleries Month runs throughout May and offers museums and galleries of all shapes and sizes a chance to celebrate themselves and encourage the public to do the same.

Under this year's theme, Objects of Desire: the Art of Collecting, institutions all over the country have been holding events, exhibitions, lectures and activities.