If you work or study in the Bloomsbury/Holborn area, do yourself a favour - leave your desk during your lunch break and head to UCL Art Museum. It's conveniently located right in the heart of UCL's campus - just pass through the main gates and cut through the Quadrangle to the South Cloisters. Don't be put off by the university atmosphere, as this Museum is actually open to all and a very welcoming place.
The current temporary exhibition looks at Rousseau's life and work, and includes an early copy of his Social Contract signed in fading brown ink in the top right corner by its previous owner, one Jeremy Bentham (who is sitting in a nearby corridor on campus, stuffed with straw). The opening hours are 1-5pm on weekdays.
There's also a wealth of stuff in the Museum normally hidden from view - don't be put off by the whole thing around making an appointment with the curator to see some of the artworks. Whatever you're interested in, there's bound to be something for you: Old Master drawings and prints, Japanese prints, contemporary caricatures of the French Revolution, prize-winning material from Slade students past and present and lots of others besides. If you're after big names then Turner, Constable, Rembrandt, Durer and Van Dyck should keep you happy. It's a great little place, hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
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