Free enamel pin when you buy any two Atlas Obscura products. Shop now.

London, England

Magic Circle Museum

This collection of illusory paraphernalia has been culled from the history of London's premier magician's club. 

Established back in 1905, Britain’s Magic Circle is a secretive group of illusionists who have set out to keep the magic in magic. While the illusionists are not inclined to reveal their secrets, curious conjurors can take a peek at the mysterious collection kept in their headquarters’ museum.

Opened in 1998, the clubhouse of the Magic Circle was built from the ground up as a base of operations for the century-old illusionists club. In addition to a mid-sized theater where regular shows can be put on or simply prepared for, and a library of books pertaining to the art of illusion, there is a remarkable museum of posters, artifacts, and ephemera from throughout the history of magic. Among the items on display are a number of props from guns used in bullet illusions, to pieces of Houdini’s famous act, to the cup-and-ball trick that Prince Charles used when he applied to join The Circle (he was accepted in 1975).

Entrance to the Magic Circle headquarters is restricted to members of the close-knit magician’s cabal, although they do host a number of public events where mere muggles can enter the building for presentations, shows, or simply to see the museum. Anyone that does not want to wait for them to pull back the veil can apply to join the Magic Circle, although it requires two years as an apprentice, and being sponsored by at least two preexisting members just to be able to test in. Making it through that process itself is no small trick.