London attractions open now (and reopening soon)
After months of closure, galleries, museums and family attractions are tentatively reopening. Here’s when you can next visit London's top cultural institutions
The National Gallery
(Detail) Titian, Rape of Europa, 1562. © Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
The first national museum to reopen in the UK, the National Gallery springs back into action on 8 July, offering visitors the chance to explore its exhibition Titian: Love, Desire, Death, which ran for only a week before having to close back in March, as well as its permanent collections. Advanced booking is essential while one-way routes and hand sanitiser stations have been installed for safety. Visitors are also encouraged to wear facemasks.
Taliban portrait. Kandahar, Afghanistan. 2002. Thomas Dworzak © Collection T. Dworzak/Magnum Photos
The Barbican is reopening its art gallery and conservatory on 13 July, with The Curve following a month later on 11 August. Between the three spaces, visitors will be able to see the unflinching exhibition Masculinities: Liberation through Photography; a new installation A Countervailing Theory by artist Toyin Ojih Odutola; and explore the tropical plants of the Barbican Conservatory. New safety measures include limited visitor capacity, timed entry slots (for which advanced booking is essential), one-way routes through the building and sanitisation points. For now, the Barbican’s restaurants, bars, main shop and cloakroom remain closed, but toilets, takeaway refreshments and a pop-up art gallery shop will be open.
WHEN: Reopening 13 July & 11 August
ZSL London Zoo
Family outings in the city just got a whole lot wilder: London Zoo has reopened its outdoor spaces, offering visitors the chance to gaze in awe at its creatures tall and small including lions, tigers, gorillas, giraffes and monkeys. Additional handwashing facilities and sanitiser stations have been placed across the zoo, while two-metre distance markers and one-way routes will help visitors keep a safe distance from one another. The zoo’s restaurant remains closed for now, but there are snack bars stationed across the site. Online booking of time slots is essential for all, including members, patrons and fellows.
Picasso and Paper (credit: Royal Academy)
The Royal Academy is reopening in phases, initially for just four days a week (Thursday to Sunday, 11am – 4pm). RA Friends have early access from 9 July, while the gallery is open to the public from the 16th. Among the offering is the five-star Picasso and Paper exhibition, which has been extended until 2 August. New safety measures include the compulsory wearing of a face covering, a one-way system throughout the building and multiple sanitisation stations. All visitors must pre-book a timed ticket.
WHEN: 9 July (RA Friends); 16 July (public)
Peter Schuyff's solo exhibition at White Cube Mason's Yard
White Cube has reopened its two London galleries – in Bermondsey and Mason’s Yard – offering visitors the chance to see its exhibitions which were showing before lockdown. At the Bermondsey gallery you can study Cerith Wyn Evans’ No Realm of Thought… No Field of Vision until 2 August, while Peter Schuyff's abstract paintings are on display in the Mason's Yard venue until 8 August. Both shows are free, but pre-booking a time slot is essential. Printouts have been replaced with digital materials accessible via smartphones, while designated routes and hand-sanitiser stations have been installed to help visitors move safely through the galleries.
The glasshouse at Kew Gardens
Those looking to escape the stifling fug of the city in mid-summer can once again explore the floral pastures of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and Wakehurst. Roam acres of green space and peruse the gardens’ impressive collection of plants and flowers from all over the world. Time-allocated tickets must be booked in advance (even for members, who won’t have to pay any extra) as spaces are currently limited. Kew’s spectacular glasshouse is open from 4 July with a one-way system in place, while shops and toilets are open across the site.
More gardens to visit near London
Sandy and Danny at the drive-in in Grease
Luna Cinema has gone retro this summer, transforming its usual open air offering into a drive-in cinema with ‘branches’ across the country. Its two London locations, at Allianz Park and the Print Works, are open from 4 and 8 July respectively. Park up to catch a bumper crop of classic films including Grease, Dirty Dancing, Notting Hill, Joker and Pulp Fiction. Luna Cinema is also set to host car-less screenings from late July at locations including Dulwich Park and Chiswick House.
More drive-in cinemas
From 27 July, art enthusiasts will once again be able to explore the offering at Tate’s four galleries, including its London spaces: Tate Britain and Tate Modern. Both will pick up where they left off in March, with the former reopening its Aubrey Beardsley exhibition and Steve McQueen's Year Three installation , while the latter will continue showing its Andy Warhol exhibition and Kara Walker's Fons Americanus. All visitors (including members) will be required to book a timed ticket online in advance.
WHEN: Reopening 27 July
The Mushrooms exhibition at Somerset House
Somerset House is reopening a portion of its vast, Neoclassical buildings from 16 July, offering visitors a chance to see its free exhibition Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi, which has been extended throughout the summer. Spread over three rooms, the compact exhibition is a diverse exploration of the role that mushrooms have played (and will play) across art, science, architecture and design. The Somerset House courtyard will also be open to visitors looking for a space to sit and relax, and the on-site café Hej will offer takeaway refreshments.
WHEN: Reopening 16 July
The British Library is reopening in stages, offering bibliophiles and studious Londoners a welcome slice of sanctity in which to research and read. Humanities, rare books and music are among the first sections to reopen on 22 July. A portion of the reading rooms will reopen too, operating with reduced hours and with a strict pre-booking system in place. Public spaces, galleries and the members’ room will open in due course.
WHEN: Reopening 22 July
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Cao Fei: Blueprints at the Serpentine
Hyde Park’s Serpentine Galleries reopens on 4 August, offering visitors a chance to see the Cao Fei: Blueprints exhibition which was showing before lockdown. Cao Fei is a Chinese multimedia artist and filmmaker based in Beijing. The Blueprints exhibition brings together her new and existing works in an immersive, site-specific installation underpinned by the artist’s trademark exploration of virtuality.
WHEN: Reopening 4 August