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Six reasons to visit the Cinema Museum this month

Written by
Becky Danks

Ever wondered what life was like when cinema was a new invention? If you fancy a break from the digital age, here are six reasons to spend a couple of hours at the Cinema Museum this month.

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 It has an amazing Hollywood history 

The building in Kennington dates back to 1873 and was originally a Victorian workhouse. A notorious last resort for the desperately poor, its most famous inmate was a young Charlie Chaplin. 

You’ll learn about the surprisingly grisly history of cinema

A super knowledgeable guide tells stories about the fires that plagued the highly flammable early cinemas. You’ll also get to hear random facts like how the certificate ‘H for Horrific’ was created especially for the release of the then-terrifying-but-now-tame 1931 film ‘Dracula’. Guided tours are by appointment and take about an hour: they include free tea and biscuits and a viewing of short films from 1910 to the 1960s. Tours cost £10 (or £7 concessions) on the door or if you book in advance then it’s £8.50 (or £6.50 concessions). 

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You can sit inside an authentic Victorian auditorium

The museum’s palatial picture house reconstruction is literally a window into a lost world. Art deco carpets, red velvet seats and plenty of faded grandeur will take you back to a time when a trip to the cinema was a special treat evoking the glamour of Hollywood.

They will show pretty much anything on the big screen

Check out events like silent movies with live music, film festivals and bazaars selling collector’s items. Event prices vary from £5 to about £15. Or if you’ve got the cash to splash (£250) you can hire the space and bring along a DVD and your friends.

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There’s loads of memorabilia

The place is packed with unique artefacts and equipment from the 1890s to the present day. Original film posters cover the walls and you can see early projectors, usherette torches, traditional staff uniforms and – oddly – a cinema-themed teapot collection. 

 You can grill Ken Loach about his films on April 20

Acclaimed director Ken Loach will be at the museum for a showing of his award-winning film ‘I, Daniel Blake’ followed by a Q&A session. Contact the museum for tickets.

Find out more about the Cinema Museum here.

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