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.
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
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.
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)
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
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
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
- Open from July 27th, 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
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
- Open: From August 4th, no times given yet
- Admission: Free
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 openings 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.