Everyone knows of The British Museum, National Gallery, Tate, etc..but, The Wellcome Collection isn't a 'museum' I had heard of until I moved to London. I use the word museum as I really don't know what else to call it. It's a facility that runs a series of incredibly unusual collections throughout the year that are unlike anything you'll elsewhere in London.
I was first introduced to The Wellcome Collection in May 2008, when I went to see a collection of photographs that were taken of terminally ill people fairly soon before and immediately after they died. I know it sounds morbid-and on some level, it was. But, each individual had a little story about them-who they were, what was wrong with them, and I found it an incredibly moving exhibit. To the point, that like many people in the room, I was crying within the first few minutes of entering the room (you could hear the sniffs and see the tissues everywhere), and didn't stop until well after I left.
The collections aren't always this serious-or rather, depressing. Over the years, I visited collections on dirt (seriously), skin (tattoos, ailments, etc), and most recently miracles & charms (an exhibition exploring 'faith, hope, and chance').
I think the tagline of The Wellcome Collection sums it up better than I ever could: A Free Destination for The Incredibly Curious. It's right across the street from Euston Station. The next time you find yourself in the area and have 45 minutes, pop in. It will be worth your time.