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
Late at Tate: My Bed
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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

Attractions, Libraries, archives and foundations

British Library

icon-location-pin Euston

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. The Treasures Gallery stays open until 8pm Tuesday - Thursday. 

Cinemas, Photography

Barbican Art Gallery

icon-location-pin Barbican

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 10am - 9pm on Thursdays, with talks, screenings and other events linked to major exhibitions. The Curve is open 11am-8pm daily and until 9pm on Thursdays.

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Fashion and Textile Museum
Things to do

Fashion and Textile Museum

icon-location-pin London Bridge

Founded by Zandra Rhodes in 2003, this centre for contemporary fashion, textiles and jewellery is now operated by Newham College and offers courses for creative students and businesses, as well as a programme of changing exhibitions. There's an admission charge for exhibitions, but entry to the café and shop is free, as is admiring the converted warehouse's colourful exterior. The gallery is open late until 8pm on Thursdays.

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Art, Galleries

Brunei Gallery

icon-location-pin Bloomsbury

This gallery is part of SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) and displays contemporary and historical exhibitions from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
The gallery is open until 8pm on Thursdays.

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Art, Sculpture

ICA

icon-location-pin St James'

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 12pm-9pm when there is an exhibition showing, and the bookshop is open Tue-Sun 12pm-9pm. The entire building is closed Mondays.

Art, Galleries

National Portrait Gallery

icon-location-pin Leicester Square

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.

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Art, Galleries

Somerset House

icon-location-pin Temple

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. Wed, Thurs and Fri, the galleries are open until 8pm.

Attractions, Towers and viewpoints

The View from the Shard

icon-location-pin London Bridge

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.
Open 10am-10pm daily March-October (summer opening hours). Open 10am-7pm Sunday-Wednesday and 10am-10pm Thursday-Saturday, October-March (winter opening hours). 

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Museums, Science and technology

Wellcome Collection

icon-location-pin Bloomsbury

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 until 10pm on Thursday evenings.

Art, Galleries

Whitechapel Gallery

icon-location-pin Whitechapel

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 gallery is open until 9pm on Thursdays. 

See our full guide to London's best museums

Museums and galleries open late on Friday

Dancing around the Bride: Cage, Cunningham, Johns, Rauschenberg and Duchamp. The Barbican from 14 February 2013 - 9 June 2013.Express - by Rauschenberg.Photograph by Felix Clay.
Felix Clay
Cinemas, Photography

Barbican Art Gallery

icon-location-pin Barbican

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 10am - 9pm on Thursdays and Fridays, with talks, screenings and other events linked to major exhibitions. The Curve is open 11am-8pm daily and until 9pm on Thursdays and Fridays.

Museums, History

British Museum

icon-location-pin Bloomsbury

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.

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3. Vincent's SunflowersN-3863-00-000035-pr.jpg
© The National Gallery, London
Art, Galleries

National Gallery

icon-location-pin Trafalgar Square

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.

Art, Galleries

National Portrait Gallery

icon-location-pin Leicester Square

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.

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Museums, History

Leighton House Museum

icon-location-pin Kensington

Leighton House reopened in April 2010 after a £1.6 million refurbishment which has uncovered and restored many of the decorative schemes and features of the house, as well as a previously unseen staircase. In the 1860s the artist Frederic Leighton commissioned his friend, the architect George Aitcheson, to build him a showpiece house in Holland Park, which he filled with classical treasures from all over the world, as well as his own works and those of his contemporaries.
The museum opens late until 9pm on occasional Fridays and includes a complimentary drink.

© Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2012.jpg
© Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2012
Art, Galleries

Royal Academy of Arts

icon-location-pin Mayfair

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).

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12. ladyofshalott.jpg
© Tate
Art, Sculpture

Tate Britain

icon-location-pin Westminster

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.

Art, Galleries

Tate Modern

icon-location-pin South Bank

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.

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Attractions, Towers and viewpoints

The View from the Shard

icon-location-pin London Bridge

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. 

Open 10am-10pm daily March-October (summer opening hours). Open 10am-7pm Sunday-Wednesday and 10am-10pm Thursday-Saturday, October-March (winter opening hours). 

Sculpture_Gallery.jpg
© Richard Waite
Museums, Art and design

V&A

icon-location-pin Brompton

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.

See our full guide to London's best museums

Museums and galleries open late on Saturday

Art, Galleries

Tate Modern

icon-location-pin South Bank

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.

Attractions, Towers and viewpoints

The View from the Shard

icon-location-pin London Bridge

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. 

Open 10am-10pm daily March-October (summer opening hours). Open 10am-7pm Sunday-Wednesday and 10am-10pm Thursday-Saturday, October-March (winter opening hours). 

See our full guide to London's best museums

Museums and galleries open late on Tuesday

Attractions, Libraries, archives and foundations

British Library

icon-location-pin Euston

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. The Treasures Gallery stays open until 8pm Tuesday - Thursday. 

See our full guide to London's best museums

Museums and galleries open late on Wednesday

Attractions, Libraries, archives and foundations

British Library

icon-location-pin Euston

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. The Treasures Gallery stays open until 8pm Tuesday - Thursday. 

Art, Galleries

South London Gallery

icon-location-pin Camberwell

One of the capital's foremost contemporary art venues, the gallery has exhibited work by shows by established international figures such as Gilbert & George, Anselm Kiefer and Gavin Turk. The SLG also profiles the work of younger and mid-career artists, past exhibitions include Alice Channer, Ryan Gander and Oscar Murillo and group shows bring together works by established and lesser-known British and international artists.
The gallery is open until 9pm on Wednesdays.

Time Out says
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Art, Galleries

Camden Arts Centre

icon-location-pin Frognal

This north London gallery is in somewhat of a hinterland (it’s nowhere near Camden) but is also well loved for its consistently good galleries, café and bookshop. It's open late weekly on Wednesdays, from 10am-9pm.

Museums, Science and technology

Science Museum

icon-location-pin Brompton

The Science Museum features seven floors of educational and entertaining exhibits, including the Apollo 10 command module and a flight simulator.
The museum is opened late from 6.45pm-10pm on the last Wednesday of the month.

Time Out says
See our full guide to London's best museums

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