Late-night opening hours at London museums and galleries

Forget an evening in front of the television, visit one of the capital's top museums for a more cultural evening

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Too busy to visit museums at the weekend? As most of the capital's museums have late-night opening hours at least once a week, swot up on culture after work instead. Here's our guide to museums in London that stay open late, and on what day.

Museums and galleries open late on Thursday

British Library

  • Free

A copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland is sent to The British Library – an institute that has amassed a collection of more than 150 million items and adds some 3 million new items each year. The public can apply for access to the reading rooms, or simply explore the permanent and temporary exhibits in the John Ritblat Gallery. Here, some of the most famous written and printed items in the world are displayed, and you might see the Lindisfarne Gospels, Shakespeare’s first Folio, Handel’s Messiah, the Gutenberg Bible, drafts of the Magna Carta and the Beatles’ manuscripts.

  1. 96 Euston Rd, NW1 2DB
  2. Open until 8pm
More info

Handel House Museum

The house that was Handel's home between 1723 and his death in 1759, where he composed his 'Messiah', is now a museum devoted to the composer's life and work. 23 Brook Street, the upper floors of which were home to rock legend Jimi Hendrix in 1968 and 1969, provides a space for changing exhibitions and events. Weekly late opening is until 8pm on Thursdays, with concerts from 6.30 to 7.30pm.

  1. 23 & 25 Brook St (entrance in Lancashire Court), W1K 4HB
  2. Open until 8pm
More info

ICA

Located on The Mall since 1968, the ICA programmes arthouse cinema, performance art, philosophical debates, art-themed club nights, cutting-edge bands and anything else that might challenge accepted notions. There's also an excellent bookshop and sunlit café/bar. The galleries are open 11am-9pm on Thursdays during exhibitions. The bookshop is open Tue-Sun 11am-9pm. The bar is open Tue-Sun 11am-11pm. The entire building is closed Mondays.

  1. The Mall, SW1Y 5AH
  2. Open until 9pm during exhibitions
More info

Somerset House

  • Free

Somerset House features a formidable art gallery (the wonderful Courtauld), a beautiful fountain court, a terraced café and a classy restaurant. In summer, children never tire of running through the choreographed fountains. In recent years the venue has hosted an outdoor film screen in summer and a wonderfully atmospheric ice-rink in winter. The courtyard and fountains are open until 11pm in in summer.

  1. The Strand, WC2R 1LA
  2. Courtyard and fountains until 11pm in summer
More info

The View from the Shard

The View from the Shard is a two-level deck (the first enclosed, the second partially open to the elements) on floors 68 to 72 of the Shard, offering Londoners and visitors with a good head for heights panoramic, 360-degree views across the capital and beyond (up to 64 kilometres, or 40 miles in old money, on a clear day) from 244 metres (800 feet) up; almost twice the height of any other viewing point in London.

  1. Joiner St, SE1 9QU
  2. Open until 10pm
Book online

Wellcome Collection

  • Free

This swanky little museum houses a fascinating and often grisly medical collection – used guillotine blades, Napoleon's toothbrush – as well as several serious (and sometimes disturbing) works of modern art. The Wellcome's temporary exhibitions are usually wonderfully interesting. The galleries are open till 10pm on Thursday evenings, often accompanied by talks.

  1. 183 Euston Rd, NW1 2BE
  2. Open until 10pm
More info


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