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
Contemporary gallery Victoria Miro is welcoming back the public this autumn with a trio of exciting exhibitions. Visitors will be able to ponder new work by the nation’s favourite ceramicist Grayson Perry (15 September - 31 October); María Berrío’s magical realist collages (6 October - 27 November); and complex, emotionally rich portraits by Chantal Joffe (10 November - 18 December). Exhibitions will be available to view by appointment. Booking details will be shared via the Victoria Miro website and social media channels.
WHEN: Reopening 15 September
The National Maritime Museum
The National Maritime Museum, part of Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG), reopens on 7 September, following in the footsteps of RMG's other three sites: Cutty Sark, the Royal Observatory and the Queen's House, which reopened earlier this summer. Free, timed entry slots must be booked in advance and face coverings must be worn inside the building. The museum's 'All Hands Children's Gallery' and 'Ahoy! Children's Gallery' will remain closed initially.
WHEN: Reopening 7 September
London Transport Museum and Depot
Ahead of the London Transport Museum (LTM) reopening on 7 September, the team behind it is offering the public a rare opportunity to explore its depot in Acton – where the majority of its collection is kept. A fun day out for families, a trip to LTM’s Depot is a chance to pore over thousands of artefacts relating to the city’s rich transport history, from a yellow Victorian horse drawn ‘garden seat’ bus dating back to the 1800s, to a shiny red Stock Tube train decorated with Art Deco touches.
The family-friendly trail around the Depot features a new one-way route and further social distancing measures to ensure the safety of visitors. Children will receive a special welcome pack with a craft kit to make during their visit and further activities to complete at home, while the on-site shop will be brimming with transport-themed toys, games, posters and gifts.
The summer season is running for 10 days only, from 19 – 23 and 26 – 30 August, and timed tickets (£15 for adults / £7.50 for children) must be booked in advance.
LTM's Covent Garden museum will then reopen to the public on 7 September, offering visitors the chance to pore over its historical items including vehicles and posters revealing poignant details about how public transport has shaped London life over the last 220 years. LTM's Hidden London exhibition will also reopen, revealing to its visitors the secrets of the city's mysterious ‘abandoned’ Underground stations.
The museum will open daily from 11am - 7pm. Adult tickets cost £18.50 and allow the holder to return to the museum for free throughout the year. Children aged 17 and under go free. Timed entry slots must be booked in advance.
The British Museum
The British Museum reopened to the public on 27 August with a new one-way system in place to help visitors flow around the building safely. Free, timed entry tickets must be booked in advance and the museum is operating at a reduced capacity. The postponed exhibitions Tantra: enlightenment to revolution and Arctic: culture and climate are opening later this autumn.
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.
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.
The Science Museum
If you’re remaining in the city this summer and have little ones in your care, consider the summer holidays saved: The Science Museum is reopening from 19 August. Budding young scientists can have their minds inspired at the Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery, while others might want to question the impact technology is having on our lives at the temporary exhibition Driverless: Who is in control?, which has been extended to January 2021.
Later in the year, autumn sees the launch of a touring exhibition Brass, Steel and Fire as well as a special commemoration of the Hubble Space Telescope’s 30th anniversary. Then in December, the museum’s newly refurbished IMAX: The Ronson Theatre opens, offering digital experiences to dazzle minds of all ages. All-new social distancing measures will be in place throughout the building and visitors are now required to pre-book free, timed entry tickets.
WHEN: Reopening 19 August
The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) has announced plans to reopen its doors to the public from 6 August. Visitors will have to book a free, timed entry ticket to enter the buildings, while exhibitions carry a separate charge (as before).
The museum’s Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk exhibition, which opened just weeks before the coronavirus outbreak caused the institution to close, will be the first exhibition to reopen at the V&A, running from 27 August until 25 October. Darren Waterston’s free immersive installation Filthy Lucre: Whistler’s Peacock Room Reimagined also reopens on 27 August.
The Natural History Museum
We’ll soon be able to walk through the hallowed halls of the Natural History Museum once more, passing under the majestic skeleton of the blue whale which presides over Hintze Hall, and into the exhibition spaces, which are likely to feature the Wild Photographer of the Year competition and Fantastic Beasts, both of which were postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak. Free, time-allocated tickets to enter the museum must be booked online in advance, and some exhibitions will carry an additional fee.
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.
Since first opening its doors in 1998, Proud Galleries has become the place to ponder exclusive celebrity portraits. Exhibitions have documented the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Amy Winehouse and a host of other names in music, film, art, fashion and more. Meanwhile its shows have attracted Elton John, Twiggy, Tracey Emin, Jude Law and many, many more A listers. The hip gallery reopens on 22 July with its sellout show Proud Collection, a chance to pore over shots of Audrey Hepburn, Christian Dior, Andy Warhol and more. Admission is free but by appointment only.
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.
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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.
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 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.
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.
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.