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You can do virtual tours of almost every major London museum and gallery
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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

Seven wonders of the British Museum
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Seven wonders of the British Museum

Every single object has a story to tell – cut to the chase with our seven favourite

The 40 best photos of London ever taken
Art

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
Museums

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.

Top 10 museums in London
Museums

Top 10 museums in London

Overwhelmed by the number of museums in London? Let Time Out point you in the right direction

Must-see museum exhibitions in London

Edmund de Waal: Library of Exile
Museums

Edmund de Waal: Library of Exile

It stings the heart, this installation by Edmund de Waal. The ceramicist and author has lined the walls of his room within a room in the British Museum with books by writers in exile. Albert Camus’s ‘Exile and the Kingdom’, Jean Rhys’s ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’, Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’. Shelf after shelf of stories written by people far from home, thinking of home.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Tom of Finland: Love and Liberation
Art

Tom of Finland: Love and Liberation

Like an (even more) homoerotic version of Batman, Touko Laaksonen lived a double life. By day, he was a pen-pusher at an advertising agency in Helsinki. By night, he was ‘Tom of Finland’, who sketched handsomely uniformed, fantastically muscled men for a thirsty audience of American fans. 

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk
Museums

Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk

The V&A does an excellent line in fashion exhibitions that are bright, brash, frothy, OTT madness – a mirroring, perhaps, of the atmosphere surrounding most major fashion weeks. So it comes as a surprise, initially, to step inside ‘Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk’ and absorb a calming scene of cool mint walls, plain white ceiling drapes and a fairly traditional layout of glass exhibition cases. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Genders: Shaping and Breaking the Binary
Art

Genders: Shaping and Breaking the Binary

Gender is big news. And, like everything that’s ‘big news’, it solicits big reactions. This exhibition at the Science Gallery aims to go beyond the most strident, shouty responses to the topic, showing instead that the very concept of gender is as messy and ungraspable as toothpaste blobbed into the sink. 

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Museum of Neoliberalism
Museums

Museum of Neoliberalism

Whatever you take away from the Museum of Neoliberalism, you definitely won’t forget the display ‘Bottle of Amazon employee urine’. According to the museum, it came from a worker in one of the company’s fulfilment centres who passed up a toilet break in order not to fall behind on work targets. It’s just one of the ways this place confronts you with how modern economic structures have trickled down into people’s everyday lives.  Tucked between a laundrette and a hairdressers in an unassuming post-war shopping centre in Lewisham, the museum explains its purpose in a window sign: ‘to look back on neoliberalism, what it has done to our world; and what might lie beyond it’. Turns out, it’s quite scary stuff.  The exhibition, which begins with a display setting out the main players of twentieth-century neoliberalism, has been created by satirical artist Darren Cullen and Gavin Grindon, a lecturer at the University of Essex who curated parts of Banksy’s Dismaland.  Like the suspects board of a detective on the edge, it’s covered in a criss-cross of red string connecting  images of Margaret Thatcher, George W Bush, Tony Blair, David Cameron and Boris Johnson.  You’re then exposed to the ways capitalism has seeped into our lives, from Scouts badges embroidered with oil company logos to a replica of the cladding and insulation at Grenfell Tower.  Regardless of your political persuasion, it’s hard not to be moved. The museum admits that it ‘may seem dispiriting’, but it’ll stoke a

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Find more recommended museum exhibitions in London

New exhibitions in London

Out of the Blue: Fifty Years of Designers Guild

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.

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Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk
Museums

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
Museums

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. 

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Science Museum
Museums

Science Museum

The Science Museum features seven floors of educational and entertaining exhibits, including the Apollo 10 command module and a flight simulator

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Geffrye Museum
Museums

Geffrye Museum

Housed in a set of 18th-century almshouses, the Geffrye Museum offers a vivid physical history of the English interior. Displaying original furniture, textiles and decorative arts, the museum recreates a sequence of typical middle-class living rooms from 1600 to the present. It is a fascinating way to take in domestic history. The Geffrye Museum also has an airy restaurant overlooking the gardens, which include a herb garden and a series of period garden 'rooms' with period seating (open Apr 1 to Oct 31, during museum opening hours). Tours of the restored almshouses take place regularly, as do children's activities and workshops (see the website for details).

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
British Museum
Museums

British Museum

One of the world's oldest museums, the British Museum is one of London's greatest cultural treasures

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

The handsome Alfred Waterhouse building houses a collection that contains some 70 million plant, animal, fossil, rock and mineral specimens

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Design Museum

Design Museum

Opened in 1989 (following its original incarnation as the Boilerhouse established in the V&A by Terence Conran), the Design 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. You can buy design books in the museum shop, as well as products related to the exhibitions. Exhibitions are usually accompanied by a programme of workshops for children.

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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V&A

V&A

The V&A houses one of the world's greatest collections of decorative arts, in such varied fields as ceramics, sculpture, portrait miniatures and photographs

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Book online