You can do virtual tours of almost every major London museum and gallery
Life without art and museums is just a whole lot of Netflix and cheap lager, that’s what self-isolation has taught me so far. Good heavens, I miss museums. The smell, the light, the people, the ART. I really miss art. But it’s good to know that way before everything went crazy, most of London’s museums digitised their collections and even created virtual tours of their spaces. From Tate Modern through to the Natural History Museum, here are our favourite virtual tours of our most beloved London cultural institutions. Tate Modern Photograph: Facebook/Tate The Tate’s collection is staggering: Monet, Picasso, Rothko, all the big names. In this tour, Tate Modern’s director Frances Morris takes you on a tour of one of the Tate’s new buildings, showing you works by Louise Bourgeois, Carl Andre and plenty of others. For some reason, Nick Grimshaw’s there too. I don’t know why. I don’t like it. The Courtauld Gallery of Art Photograph: Courtauld This is a virtual tour of a museum that was shut even before the current crisis. The Courtauld’s been closed for refurbishment for ages, but cleverly created this digital tour for posterity’s sake. It’s room by room, so start at the beginning with Cranach the Elder’s ‘Adam and Eve’, scoot through the portraits of old dead people in room four and then head straight for the Impressionist and modernist delights of rooms six and seven. Van Gogh, Manet, Kandinsky? Yes please! The National Portrait Gallery Photograph: National Portrait Gall
The 40 best photos of London ever taken
How do you sum up a city that changes its look as often as its underwear and always has plenty to say? It sounds impossible, but that’s the challenge we set ourselves when we decided to draw up a definitive list of the best photographs ever taken of the capital. In making our selection we had help. We couldn't do it all by ourselves, obviously. So we enlisted people like Wolfgang Tillmans, Juergen Teller, Nick Waplington, Dorothy Bohm and Eamonn McCabe. Those are just some of the names among the world-famous photographers who shaped our selection. We also picked the brains of the top London photography brass at museums including the Tate, V&A, Museum of London and Imperial War Museum. So it's not just our taste, it's their taste too. The result: a celebration of London’s architecture, its icons and its geography, but also of us: Londoners at work, at play, protesting, rising to a challenge and always ready for our close-up. With thanks to: Dorothy Bohm, Michael Hoppen, Charlie Phillips, Dennis Morris, David Chandler, Helen Trompeteler, Tina Barney, Bruce Gilden, David Campany, Nick Waplington, Wolfgang Tillmans, Rob Greig, Simon Baker, Eamonn McCabe, Jim Dow, Alona Pardo, Martin Barnes, Brett Rogers, Juergen Teller, Fariba Farshad, Michael Benson, Anna Sparham, Hilary Roberts, By Gabriel Coxhead, Matt Breen, Phoebe Trimingham and Martin Coomer
14 weird but wonderful museums in London
From the British Museum to the V&A, London's a world-leader when it comes to big name cultural institutions. But did you know it's also home to a multitude of a smaller, quirkier and more unusual museums too? Read our guide to the weirdest museums our city has to offer.
Must-see museum exhibitions in London
New exhibitions in London
Out of the Blue: Fifty Years of Designers Guild
Get your Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen head on and embrace the wonderful world of home furnishings. Tricia Guild established the Designer's Guild out of frustration at the general beigeness of interior design fabrics available. Fifty years on and her company has become known for its bold, colourful, eclectic taste. 'Anything but boring' could be the motto. This exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey shows how Guild's global travels inspired the fabrics and patterns featured in the designs and how the company grew from occupying one part of shop on the King's Road to being a major brand.
Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk
The most famous piece of Japanese clothing ever created and, in fact, one of the most iconic examples of clothing full stop, the kimono is fashion symbol, status symbol and cultural symbol. Which is why it's now the star of its own major show at the V&A. Demonstrating how the garment has evolved since 1660 to the present day, this exhibition includes stunning examples from the museum's own collection plus significant loans from across the globe. The focus, of course, will be on Japan and the huge variety of different kimono styles created over the centuries. But you'll also be able to see the kimono Alexander McQueen designed for Björk to wear in the cover photo for 'Homogenic', plus the original Star Wars costumes inspired by – you've guessed it! – kimono. It's also more than an historic retrospective, with examples of modern kimono created for a new era of kimono-wearers in Japan. As always with V&A fashion exhibitions, it's worth booking a ticket in advance because these babies are always super popular.
Costume at the National Theatre
The National Theatre costume department is a land of absolute marvels. Housed on-site at the Southbank theatre, it sources, sews, alters and dresses performers for 20 new productions per year (and bear in mind that the NT is one of the few London theatres to use large casts). It also loans costumes from its 90,000 strong hire department to theatres all over the country. The wizard-like people who work there are able to magic blood out of costumes, whip an actor into a corset in under 60 seconds and just, well, perform magic basically. You can now see some of their treasures for free on display in the National Theatre's Wolfson Gallery. There are costumes from 'Follies', 'Antony & Cleopatra', 'Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom', 'wonder.land', 'Dara' and 'War Horse', and the displays will take you through the entire costuming process from start to finish.