Somerset House

Art galleries

Historic buildings and sites


  • Free
  • Ed Marshall / Time Out

  • Courtyard fountains - © Simon Leigh / Time Out

  • Fernandez and Wells Cafe © Tricia De Courcy Ling

  • © Ed Marshall

  • Jonathan Perugia / Time Out

  • Kings Barge House © Jonathan Perugia / Time Out

  • © Jonathan Perugia / Time Out

  • © Jonathan Perugia / Time Out

Ed Marshall / Time Out

Time Out rating:

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Venue details

  • Address:

    Somerset House Strand
    WC2R 1LA

  • Venue phone:

    020 7845 4600

  • Venue website:

  • Opening hours:

    Daily 10am-6pm

  • Transport:

    Tube: Charing Cross/Covent Garden

  • Price:

    Free; admission charge applies from some temporary exhibitions

  • Map

    1. Somerset House

What's on at Somerset House



A Power Walk

Things to do

From the monarchs to ministers, there's no doubting that London has long been in a fight for power, be that with the rest of the world or ourselves. This walk, led by Rosie Oliver from Dotmakers Tours, will take you on a mile and a half tour of the capital's...

  1. Fri Mar 13 – Fri Jun 12
  2. Somerset House
  3. £15, £12 concs
More info



  • Free

Calling all pogonophiles, this exhibition of over 80 portraits by Mr Elbank is just for you. Here, all manner of facial tufts come under the spotlight from John Hurt's wiry fisherman’s whiskers to Harnaam Kaur’s unexpected beard, which she’s been growing...

  1. Thu Mar 5 – Sun Mar 29
  2. Somerset House
More info

Guy Bourdin: Image Maker

Fashion, Photography

Provocative, surreal and instantly recognisable: the work of Guy Bourdin marks a high point in twentieth century fashion photography, turning editorial and advertising imagery into something rich and strange. Guy Bourdin: Image Maker is the UK’s largest...

Guy Bourdin: Image Maker
  1. Until Sun Mar 15
  2. Somerset House
  3. £9, £7 concessions
More info

Mapping the City

Things to do

  • Free

You don't need to walk the streets of a city to get a feel for it, and this exhibition of cartographic representations will allow you a glimpse of how more than 50 internationally recognised artists from the graffiti and street art scenes view the home...

Mapping the City
  1. Tue Jan 27 – Sun Feb 15
  2. Somerset House
  3. Free
More info

PJ Harvey's Recording in Progress

Art, Things to do

Double Mercury prize winner and alternative music legend PJ Harvey will record her ninth album from inside an architectural installation in the recently opened New Wing of Somerset House. Harvey, her band, her producers and engineers will work in a box...

PJ Harvey's Recording in Progress
  1. Tue Jan 27 – Sat Feb 14
  2. Somerset House
  3. £15, £12 concs
More info

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Curated London

Review for Boro

From the 17th - 19th centuries, Japan’s poor were allowed only to wear dark blue, brown and grey. Brighter colours were reserved for the wealthy ruling elite, as were luxury fabrics, like cotton. When the rich threw away their clothes, poor people gathered together the scraps and stitched them together to make bedspreads. The result (Boro) is the subject of this exhibition.

If this sounds niche to the point of obscurity, you’d be right. The exhibition offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of one of the world’s most insular nations. However, from an artistic point of view, there is little to be gained. These are scraps of fabric, dyed blue and hastily quilted together to provide relief from Japan’s cold winter nights.

In an attempt to justify the exhibition, or possibly to break up the monotony, the curator has overindulged considerably with the interpretation. A whole panel is devoted to how modern artists, name-dropping eight of them, could have been influenced by Boro (‘Paul Klee would have been delighted by them’) before acknowledging this did not happen. It’s worth a quick look if you’re at Somerset House, but definitely not worth a special trip.


Saw the Sony World Photo Awards here which was fantastic. The permanent exhibition is worth a look as well.

Becky C
1 of 1 found helpful

One of London's most innovative museums, I love the amount of thought they put into offering as much diversity as possible. There really is something for everyone (and many exhibitions are free) but it's also a great place just to sit and people-watch.


Indeed Somerset house has more happening then most people visiting London would realise. It is a true hidden jem which is ironic because it is also one of the larger buildings that are open to the public. A beautiful historic hosting some very up today events. As well as the family workshops a number of events for adults have been run in the evening which have been very well recived. An evening of no presure creative play with a glass of wine in one hand accompanied by sounds from chilled DJ's is a very plesent way to pass the time.