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Things to do in Mayfair
Royal Institution of Great Britain
The Royal Institution was founded in 1799 for ‘diffusing the knowledge… and application of science to the common purposes of life’; from behind its neoclassical façade, it’s been at the forefront of London’s scientific achievements ever since. In 2008, Sir Terry Farrell completed a £22m rebuild, inside and out, with the brief of improving accessibility and finding ways to lure people inside. The result is a more open frontage, a restaurant, a bar and a café. The Michael Faraday Laboratory, a complete replica of Faraday’s former workspace, is in the basement, alongside a working laboratory in which RI scientists can be observed researching their current projects. Some 1,000 of the RI’s 7,000-odd scientific objects are on display, including the world’s first electric transformer, a prototype Davy lamp and, from 1858, a print of the first transatlantic telegraph signal. The RI also holds a terrific rolling programme of talks and demonstrations in its lecture theatre, most famously at Christmas.
What's on in Mayfair this week
House of Vans
Taking over what used to be the Old Vic Tunnels, the House of Vans has turned the space below Waterloo station into a hot new destination for skateboarders, and promises a variety of diversions that will also appeal to those with no particular ambition to execute a credible 360 flip. The underground venue is sister to House of Vans Brooklyn where tickets for the free, all-ages summer concerts go like hot baked goods. The London branch also boasts a live music stage, as well as two tunnels’ worth of purpose-built skate park and an art gallery that will open with ‘Scissors & Glue’, an exhibition documenting the brief history of zines (till September 20). There’s a café, bars and cinema space and a regular programme of talks and workshops is planned. Skate sessions are free and open to all ages (there are lessons with The Skateboad School on Saturday mornings) but to be sure of entry book in advance on the House of Vans website where you’ll also find updates on upcoming gigs.