Museums: explore London after hours with Museums at Nights

Pal Hansen

If you are in London over the weekend of 18th – 20th May, you’d be mad to miss Museums at Night – the annual weekend when hundreds of museums, galleries, libraries, archives and heritage sites open their doors after hours and invite you in to explore, take part in special events and workshops, and generally see amazing things into the night. (Indeed, Museums at Night is nationwide, so if you’re anywhere in the UK, do check out what might be going on anywhere near you).  It’s a great time to explore not just the bigger galleries and museums (and see them in a different light), but to discover other places you may never have visited. If you haven’t been to the Kew Bridge Steam Museum, for example, or Leighton House, Dr. Johnson’s House or the Royal College of Surgeons, these are all great places well worth discovering. The list of events over the Museum at Nights weekend is broad, with something for everyone, but our top picks include:

  • A Night in Space at The Royal Observatory in Greenwhich, when you can build a moon dial and meet astronomers (and ask them any questions you like).
  • Visiting Leighton House’s in Holland Park for a real nineteenth century experience with their Victorian Delight evening.
  • Listening to musicians from the Royal College of Music as they perform a concert surrounded by great works of art in one of the rooms at the National Gallery.
  • Seeing the Christian Louboutin exhibition and listening to appropriately shoe inspired bed time stories until 11pm at the Design Museum.
  • Visiting the Lucian Freud exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery for an evening of music, film, poetry, walks, talks, wine and life drawing sessions all inspired by Freud’s paintings.
  • Taking a twilight tour of the National Gallery, Osterly Park House, Dr. Johnson’s House or Sir John Soane’s Museum, the latter two which will be conducted by candle-light.
  • Dancing the evening away on a routemaster bus while a cartographer maps everything that’s going on at Maps Unleashed at the London Transport Museum.
  • The chance to be one of six people given a special evening guided tour around the 80 year old literary archive of legendary publishing house Faber and Faber.
  • Lots of the events are family friendly and some will be extra brill for kids – such as exploring the National Army Museum (which has an amazing Kid’s Zone play area), winning a sleepover at the British Musuem, or decorating a locomotive (and seeing the whole museum by candle-light) at the Kew Bridge Steam Museum.

As you can imagine, the weekend is hugely popular, and many of the events have limited places, so do book now if you’ve got your eye on something.

Museums at Night: hundreds of museums open their doors after hours for special events
Fri May 18 - Sun May 20 2012
Museums all over London and the UK. See website for all details.
Some events are free, others charge normal museum admission price and some events (e.g. a concert) have a separate ticket price, usually around £10 - £15. Check website for all details.
— Daisy
26th April 2012