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 Friday
One of the world's oldest museums, the BM is vast and its collections comprise millions of objects. First-time visitors generally head for the mummies, the Rosetta Stone, Lindow Man, the Lewis Chessmen and the Sutton Hoo Ship Burial. Selected galleries of the museum are open until 8.30pm every Friday evening, augmented by tours, special events and food and drink.
- 44 Great Russell St, WC1B 3DG
- Weekly on Fri until 8.30pm
This museum by Tower Bridge encompasses modern and contemporary industrial and fashion design, graphics, architecture and multimedia. The smart Blueprint Café has a balcony overlooking the Thames, and you can buy design books and cool products in the museum shop. Design Overtime takes place irregularly every few months, when the museum opens from 6pm to 10pm for talks and workshops based on the current exhibitions.
- 28 Butlers Wharf, Shad Thames, SE1 2YD
- Every few months
Among the vehicles on display at the London Transport Museum is the first underground electric train, which had no windows because there was nothing to see underground. The trouble was that no one could tell which stop they were at, a glitch resolved by employing an athletic announcer who ran to each carriage at every station, shouting out the stops. Friday lates take place every few months with events themed around current exhibitions.
- Covent Garden Piazza, WC2E 7BB
- Every few months
The National Gallery is home to more than 2,000 works, with masterpieces from virtually every European school of art. In the East Wing are some of the gallery's most popular paintings, including one of Monet's water lily paintings and one of Van Gogh's sunflowers series. There's also a wonderfully atmospheric café and a fine-dining restaurant. Weekly late-night opening is on Fridays until 9pm, with tours, talks and music events.
- Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN
- Weekly on Fri until 9pm
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 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
Expect to pay for blockbusters in the Sackler Wing or main galleries, while shows in the John Madejski Fine Rooms are drawn from the RA's holdings – ranging from Constable to Hockney – and are free. The Royal Academy's biggest event is the Summer Exhibition. On Fridays the RA stays open until 10pm (last admission 9.30pm).
- Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J OBD
- Weekly on Fri until 10pm
Tate Modern gets all the attention, but the original Tate Gallery has a broader and more inclusive brief, with work by Hogarth, Constable and Turner as well as Lucian Freud, David Hockney and Francis Bacon. Late at Tate Britain takes place on selected Fridays, with performances, talks and screenings.
- Millbank, SW1P 4RG
- Selected Fridays until 10pm
This powerhouse of modern art is awe-inspiring even before you enter, thanks to its industrial architecture. Inside, the original cavernous turbine hall is used to jaw-dropping effect as the home of large-scale, temporary installations. The permanent collection features heavy-hitters such as Matisse, Rothko, Bacon, Twombly and Beuys. Tate Modern does weekend after-hours gallery-going extremely well, opening until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
- Bankside, SE1 9TG
- Weekly on Fri and Sat until 10pm
The V&A houses one of the world's greatest collections of decorative arts, in such varied fields as ceramics, sculpture, portrait miniatures and photography. Selected galleries remain open until 10pm on Fridays. In addition, Friday Lates, held on the last Friday of the month (except December), comprise mostly free, mostly drop-in events, workshops and entertainment, with a different theme each month, until 10pm.
- Cromwell Rd, SW7 2RL
- Every Fri until 10pm