London’s museums are beginning to reopen. Some have extended the runs of exhibitions that had barely opened as lockdown started. So instead of Cultural Wednesday’s Best London Exhibitions, I bring you London Museum Reopening dates and details of exhibitions where I have seen them.
Places are listed in the date order of when they reopen. Quite often opening times are shorter than they would have been before. Pre-booking timed tickets is essential even for places that are free. Some places are opening earlier to members, take a look at my guide to London Museum Membership if you interested in supporting your favourite museum. If I haven’t mentioned your favourite place then it is probably because they have not made an announcement yet.
July London Museum Reopening
RAF Musem London
Largest collection of RAF planes in the world what more could a flight obsessed person ask for. Doors reopen 6th July entry is free but tickets need to be booked in advance.
- RAF Museum London
- Open: from 6th July daily 10am – 5pm
- Admission: Free but needs to be booked
The National Gallery will be the first big London gallery to reopen on 8th July. Inside the pictures remain the same but now there will be three set routes available to follow, nothing to stop you doing all three. Tickets need to be booked in advance. Entry will be via the Sainsbury wing and exit via the Getty wing. Opening hours will be shorter than usual. The cafe will be open for takeaway only. The sumptuous Titian: Love, Desire, Death exhibition has been extended as has Nicolaes Maes.
Titian: Love, Desire, Death
Titian died 500 years ago this year aged only 37. To mark the occasion the National Gallery is having a bit of reunion. Prince Philip of Spain asked Titian to paint a series of six paintings of classical myths. These been scattered across the globe for at least 400 years, now they are all together in the same room.
Nicolaes Maes: Dutch Master of the Golden Age
Nicolaes Maes was one of Rembrandt’s most gifted pupils. He painted scenes ranging from a look at the saucy goings on below stairs to the still perfection of the upper class of the Dutch Golden Age. This is the first ever UK exhibition devoted to Nicolaes Maes, is free and I loved it.
- National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN
- Open: from 7th July daily 11am – 4pm
- Titian: Love, Desire, Death until 17 January 2021 tickets from £8.
- Nicolaes Maes until 20th September free
- General gallery entrance is free but needs to be pre-booked
National Army Museum
Doors reopen on 7th July 7 at the National Army museum tickets will need to be booked in advance and initially the cafe and play area will be closed.
- National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4HT
- Open: from 7th July Tuesday – Sunday 10.30 – 3.30pm
- Admission: Free
The Foundling Museum reopens on 8th July, tickets need to be booked in advance, there will be designated routes and hand sanitisers throughout the building. It was the first public art gallery in London and is a fascinating place. Hogarth and Handel vied with each other to help set up the galleries that would support a home for London’s abandoned children. The excellent Portraying Pregnancy exhibitions has had its run extended
Portraying Pregnancy: From Holbein to Social Media
For a woman to spend most of her adult life pregnant was not unusual before the last century and yet portraits rarely portray pregnant women. Now, however, displaying your pregnancy bump is all the rage on social media. The Foundling Museum has gathered together a selection from Tudor times to now including the Mark Quinn statue of Alison Lapper that once graced the Fourth Plinth.
- Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square WC1N 1AZ
- Reopens 8th July
- Portraying Pregnancy until August 23
- Open: Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm, Sunday 11am – 5pm
- Admission: Adults £10.50, free for under 21 and Art Fund members
- Advance booking required
Painted Hall, Greenwich
Walking into the Painted Hall in Greenwich is like walking into a painting, you will be able to immerse yourself in all its glory from July 13. The skittle alley and cafe will not be open and it is recommended that you book ahead. Read more about the glories of the Painted Hall here.
- Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College SE10 9NN
- Open: From July 13 Daily 10am – 5pm
- Admission: Adults £12
The splendid Whitechapel Gallery reopens on July 14th with its Spring programme including Radical Figures extended. Tickets need to be booked, there will be a one way system, visitors are encouraged to wear masks and gloves. Best of all the rather fine Townsend Restaurant will also reopen.
- Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High St, E1 7QX
- Open: Reopens July 14th Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 6pm, 9pm on Thursday
- Admission: £9.50, free for members
The Royal Academy will open its doors to members on July 9th and the general public on July 16th. You will have to wear a mask, all the tills will be cashless, there will be lots of hand washing stations around and you will need to follow a one way system. As a thank you workers in the NHS and Social Care as well as Blue Light card holders will get free entry. Initially only Picasso and Paper will open with an extended run until August 2nd. Gaugin will open on August 7th and the Summer Exhibition will become the Autumn Exhibition.
Picasso on Paper
Picasso drew and painted on paper but he also ripped it, folded it, burnt it. Everything that the fertile imagination might consider doing with paper is on show. I confess that I’ve never really got what all the fuss is about with Picasso, this show changed my mind. He was just so creative, even his doodles were masterpieces. I loved the way he just kept on pushing boundaries and asking questions. For me one of the best parts was a watching a film of Picasso creating a drawing with what were then new fangled felt tips pens whilst standing in front of the actual painting. Take a peek at the video
Gauguin and the Impressionists
The Ordrupgaard Collection outside Copenhagen is closed for renovations. Why should you care? Well some of the very best painting in the collection have decided to take advantage of the gallery being shut and are taking a holiday in London. Monet, Degas, Corot and Gauguin will all be on display. It seems only polite to pay them a visit whilst they are in town.
I first stumbled across Léon Spilliaert when we visited Ostend and vowed to find out more about him. How timely that the Royal Academy has decided to devote an exhibition to him and his moody dreamy depictions of Ostend.
- Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD
- Pre booking essential including members
- Open: From July 9th Thursday – Sunday 11am – 4pm
- Masks required inside, tills will be cashless
- Picasso and Paper unti August 12th, admission from £20
- Gaugin and the Impressionists, 7 August – 18 October 2020, admission from £16
- Léon Spilliaert new dates TBA, admission from £14
- NHS, Social Care and Blue Light card holders free.
Tower of London
You can see the Crown Jewels and the Beefeaters again from July 10. Pre-booking is always advisable to avoid the queues, there will be a one way system. Members should book a slot via the members portal.
- Tower of London, Tower Hill EC3N 4AB
- Open: from July 10 Wednesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm
- Admission: Adults £25
You will probably never get the chance to see Westminster Abbey with so few people again. The Royal Tombs are one of the great sights of London.
- Westminster Abbey, 20 Dean’s Yard, SW1P 3PA
- Reopen July 11
- Open: Wednesday 4.30pm – 6pm, Saturday 10am – 2pm
- Admission: Adult £18, Child £7 pre booking essential
- Open for Church services every day
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral reopens on July 13, no restricted times here the Cathedral will be open 6 days a week as usual and on Sundays for services. There have always been too many people for me to get the the Whispering Gallery to work but the views from the top of the dome are some of the best in London.
- St Paul’s Cathedral, Ludgate Hill, EC4M 8AD
- Reopen July 13th
- Open: Monday – Saturday 8.30am – 4.30pm pre booking advised but not essential
- Admission: Adult £20, Child £8.50
One of the great joys of summer in London is strolling in the courtyard at Somerset House. Doors reopen (does a courtyard have doors?) on 16th July. The incredibly interesting Mushroom exhibition will also be returning. Even better the Hej cafe will be open for takeaways which can be consumed in the courtyard.
Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi
I love mushrooms. They look so incredible and taste delicious. This is not be an exhibition devoted purely to highly detailed depictions of mushroom gills, it will look at the new and exciting ways that fungi can be used. Did you know that shoes can be made of mushrooms? An exhibitions that makes you say, well I never knew that!
- Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA
- Reopens July 16th
- Mushrooms open Tuesday – Sunday 12noon – 6pm, pre-booking essential
- Courtyard open daily 10am – 7pm
- Admission: Free (donations encouraged)
Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court gardens (except the maze) have been open for sometime but the Palace itself reopens on July 17. One cafe will be open and picnics are welcome in the grounds. Pre-booking is essential, even for members who should do so via the members portal
- Hampton Court Palace, KT8 9AU
- Open: from July 17 Wednesday – Sunday 10.30am – 5pm
- Admission: Adults £24.50
You will be able to clamber aboard what was once the world’s fastest tea clipper again on 20th July. Tickets need to be booked in advance even for members. If you are a member you can visit from 18th July. Every adult booked before 31st gets a free child ticket.
- Cutty Sark, King William Walk SE10 9HT
- Open: from July 20th 10.30am – 4pm
- Admission: Adults £15, Child £7.50
Royal Mews and the Queen’s Gallery
Buckingham Palace State Rooms will remain firmly shut this summer but you can still glimpse inside the Palace. The Royal Mews with all the Queen’s carriages and the Queen’s Gallery reopen on July 23rd. Even better the excellent George IV: Art and Spectacle has been extended and will now run until November 1. Tickets have to be booked in advance.
George IV: Art and Spectacle at the Queen’s Gallery
George IV was quite a showy man. He built the Brighton Pavillion. Not content with amazing houses he filled them with great art. Turns out he was a big fan of Jane Austen, keeping a set of her books in all his houses, a signed copy of Emma is on show next to far glitzier stuff more usually associated with George.
- Buckingham Palace, SW1A 1AA
- Queen’s Gallery : from July 23 Thursday – Monday, 11am– 6.30pm
- Admission: Adult £13.50, under 5 free.
- Royal Mews: from July 23 Thursday – Monday 11am – 5pm
- Admission: Adult £13, under 5 free
- Pre booking essential
- Have your ticket stamped and it becomes a one year pass.
If I could live in any London museum it would be the Wallace Collection. Doors will reopen on July 25th. Opening times will be shorter, the cafe will be closed but a coffee cart selling coffee and cake will be open outside. Tickets need to be booked in advance.
- Wallace Collection, Manchester Square
- Open: from July 25th 11am – 3pm
- Admission: Free but a pre-booked ticket is needed
Strawberry Hill House
You can experience the Gothic splendour of Strawberry Hill House again from July 26. Afterwards the gardens make an excellent place for a quiet picnic.
- Strawberry Hill House, 268 Waldegrave road, TW1 4ST
- Reopen July 26
- Open: Sunday – Thursday 11am – 4pm
- Admission: Adults £12.50 pre-booking essential
Charles Dickens Museum
You will be able to wander around the house that Charles Dickens lived in once again from July 25th. There will even be a shiny new exhibition to see, Technicolour Dickens promises a suite of newly colourised photos and the only known clothes that Mr Dickens actually wore. I always imagined quite a portly man but it turns out he was slender.
- Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, WC1N 2LX
- Reopen July 25
- Open: Friday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
- Admission: Adult £9.50
- Entry will be in 15 minute time slots pre booking essential
Barbican Art Gallery and Conservatory
Yes, the Barbican has a conservatory right at the top of the complex. Giant tropical plants obscure the brutalist concrete and you forget that you are in the middle of an immense city. If you’ve never been this year is the one to seek it out. Even better it is free. Down at the Barbican Art Gallery you need to pay to see Masculinities: Liberation through Photography. Pre booking is essential.
- Barbican Art Gallery and Conservatory, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS
- Reopen July 27
- Monday – Friday 10am – 7pm, Weekends 11am – 7pm
- Admission: Conservatory free
- Admission: Masculinities until August 23rd from £15
Tate Britain and Tate Modern
Both reopen on July 27th. Full details of how things will work are not yet available watch this space! What is known is that some of the exhibitions have been extended.
Aubrey Beardsley at Tate Britain
Aubrey Beardsley was very popular when I was in the sixth form. Somewhere in the depths of my garage I have a shoe box covered with his drawings that I cut out from magazines, filled with important memorabilia of my late teens. His drawings are elegant, humorous, decadent and erotic. What appealed most to me was that he was an illustrator for the Yellow Book magazine and yellow was (and still is) my favourite colour. Even if you don’t have a shoebox in the garage this was a great exhibition.
Soup Cans, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis …. Andy Warhol’s work is stuffed full of iconic images. My favourite part? A room filled with silver helium filled balloons. Fingers crossed that Tate Modern opens before the scheduled September closing date.
- Tate Britain, Millbank, SW1P 4RG
- Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG
- Reopen July 27th
- Andy Warhol until September 6th admission from £22
- Aubrey Beardsley until September 20th admission from £16
- Steve McQueen Year 3 until 21 January 2021 admission free
- Entrance to Tate Britain free but needs to be prebooked
Queen Victoria’s childhood home reopens its doors on July 30 you will need to pre book tickets, members should head to the members portal to book their slot.
- Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens W8 4PX
- Reopen July 30th
- Open: Wednesday – Sunday 10.30pm – 5pm
- Admission: Adult £17
August London Museum Reopening
Among the Trees at the Hayward Gallery is to reopen on August 1st. As a THANK YOU NHS staff will get in free.
Among the Trees
Trees are part of our life. Trees live longer than we do. Trees are under threat. The concrete brutalism of the Hayward Gallery seems an odd place to stage a paean to all things arboreal but somehow it works. You walk in and hear birdsong and then you see the trees.
- Hayward Gallery, Southbank
- Reopens August 1st (Members and NHS staff from July 30) until 17 May
- Open: Wednesday – Sunday 11am – 7pm (6pm Sunday)
- Admission: Adults £12, members free, NHS staff, ArtFund card half price
For me no visit to Hyde Park is complete without a visit to one of the Serpentine Galleries. Both are to reopen on August 4th, entry remains free but timed tickets will need to be booked and masks will. need to be worn inside the galleries. Toilets will not be open.
- Serpentine Galleries, Kensington Gardens, W2 3XA
- Reopens August 4
- Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm
- Admission: Free, pre booked ticket essential
Natural History Museum
You can once more walk with dinosaurs when the Natural History Museum leads the South Kensington reopening charge on August 5th.
- Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD
- Open August 5
- Open: Wednesday – Saturday 11am – 6pm
- Admission: Free but pre booked timed ticket essential
Victoria and Albert Museum
My favourite place to loose a few hours in London reopens on August 6th. Initially it will just be the ground floor that is open with the rest following at the end of August. The fantastic Kimono and Filthy Lucre exhibitions have both had their runs extended. Handbags will now open in November
Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk
Japanese women have been wearing the Kimono for centuries. This exhibition is sumptuous display of Kimonos from the 1660s right up to the present day. I had been hoping that Mr CW would do some birthday shopping for me in the shop but maybe now he can!
Filthy Lucre: Whistler’s Peacock Room Reimagined
Whistler created the Peacock room just a few hundred yards away from the V&A without the owner of the house knowing. The pair fell out over it. Now the room is safely installed in the Freer Gallery in Washington. This installation lovingly recreates room plus a bit of decay, adds a booming sound track and is fully immersive. Sounds a little left field? Don’t worry it is free and you might love it.
- Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL
- Reopen August 6
- Thursday – Sunday 11am – 3pm (7pm from August 27)
- Kimono to Catwalk until October 25th from £16
- Filthy Lucre until November 29th Admission free
- Admission: free but timed pre booked ticket essential
The Science Museum is the last of the big South Kensington Museums to open on August 19th but unlike the others it will be open seven days a week.
- Science Museum, Exhibition Road,
- Reopens August 19th
- Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
- Admission: Free but pre booked ticket essential
Museum of London and MoL Docklands
Both Museum of London sites are to reopen on August 6th. Even better The Class: London Calling display at the City site will remain open until September 6th and one at the Docklands The Krios of Sierra Leone will be extended until next March. Although both museums remain free tickets must now be pre-booked.
- Museum of London
- Museum of London Docklands
- Reopen August 6th
- Open: Monday – Friday 11.30am – 3.30pm, Weekend 10am – 6pm
- Admission: Free pre-booked ticket essential
Queen’s House, Greenwich
You will be able to visit the most perfect spiral staircase in London once again when the Queen’s House opens on August 10. You have until August 31 to see the three Armada Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I hanging all together.
- Queen’s House, Romney Rd, Greenwich, SE10 9NF
- Reopens August 10
- Open: Daily 10am – 5pm
- Admission: Free but pre-booked ticket essential
After 163 days of closure the British Museum will reopen on August 27, free pre-booked tickets will be the order of the day. Looking further ahead the delayed Tantra: enlightenment to revolution exhibition will now open on 24 September and Arctic on 22 October. Edmund de Waal’s library of exile in Room 2 will remain on show for a bit longer too.
- British Museum, Great Russell St WC1B 3DG
- Reopens August 27th
- Open: Daily 10am – 5pm (until 3pm on first two days)
- Admission: Free with pre-booked ticket
Sir John Soane’s Museum
Sir John Soane’s museum is part elegant residence and part museum with paintings and architectural treasures jostling for space. Preparing a distanced route will be a challenge and so doors are not due to reopen until October 1st.
- Sir John Soane’s Museum, 13 Lincolns Inn Fields, WC2A 3BP
- Open: Reopen October 1st Thursday – Saturday
- Admission: Free pre-booked timed ticket essential
As new information about new London Museum Reopening comes my way I will amend this post, if you think that there is anything I’ve missed drop me a line.
Whilst I am out and about stopping for refreshment at some of the excellent London Museum Cafés is always a pleasure. Membership or Friendship of most of the galleries and museums will get you into the exhibitions for free as often as you like, take a look at my guide to London Museum Membership for a full run down. Membership of the Art Fund will get you into many of the special exhibitions for half price.