Late night openings at London museums and galleries
Forget an evening of TV – try one of these museum lates for a more cultural night out
Too busy to visit museums at the weekend? Swot up on culture after work instead, as most of the capital's museums have late-night opening hours at least once a week. Here's our guide to the London museums that stay open late – click through to discover which nights of the week to visit.
Museums and galleries open late on Thursday
The Barbican Art Gallery, on the third floor of the Barbican Centre, stages exhibitions on design, architecture and pop culture, while on the ground floor, the Curve is a free exhibition space for specially commissioned works and contemporary art. The Barbican Art Gallery is open 11am-10pm on Thursdays, with talks, screenings and other events linked to major exhibitions. And it’s open till 8pm during the rest of the week, too (except Wed: 11am-6pm). The Curve is open 11am-8pm daily and until 10pm Thursdays.
- Silk St, EC2Y 8DS
- Weekly on Thur until 10pm
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.
- 23 & 25 Brook St (entrance in Lancashire Court), W1K 4HB
- Weekly on Thur until 8pm
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.
- The Mall, SW1Y 5AH
- Weekly on Thur until 9pm during exhibitions
Portraits don't have to be stuffy. The National Portrait Gallery has everything from oil paintings of stiff-backed royals to photos of soccer stars and gloriously unflattering political caricatures. The portraits of musicians, scientists, artists, philanthropists and celebrities are arranged in chronological order from the top to the bottom of the building. The NPG is open until 9pm on Thursdays and Fridays.
- St Martin's Place, WC2H 0HE
- Weekly on Thur and Fri until 9pm
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.
- The Strand, WC2R 1LA
- Courtyard and fountains until 11pm in summer
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.
- 183 Euston Rd, NW1 2BE
- Weekly on Thur until 10pm
This East End stalwart reopened in 2009 following a major redesign and expansion that saw the Grade II listed building transformed into a vibrant, holistic centre of art complete with a research centre, archives room and café. The weekly late opening of the galleries is on Thursdays, until 9pm.
- 77-82 Whitechapel High St, E1 7QX
- Weekly on Thur until 9pm
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