Mad about museums but time poor? Us too. Happily however, Londoners can now get their culture fix after work - not just at the weekend - as most of the capital’s museums and galleries stay open late, at least once a week. Here Ultra Vie gives you the low down on five fabulous museums and galleries, with late night opening hours.
Art lovers will be in their element at the elegant Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), located in the Mall - a tree-lined royal road leading from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace. The ICA houses three separate art galleries that stage new exhibitions every six weeks (meaning there’s always something new to see) and, on Thursdays, they’re open until a not unreasonable 9pm. Alongside art events, the ICA also hosts late night lectures and film screenings. Afterwards head to the onsite bar where you can discuss what you’ve seen, drink in hand, until 11pm. Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, SW1Y 5AH (020 7930 3647; www.ica.org.uk)
The Natural History Museum
Ever wondered what happens when the doors close at the award-winning tourist attraction world-leading science research centre that is the Natural History Museum? Find out for yourself at Dino Snores for Grown Ups - an adults only sleepover promising an unforgettable night of music, art, science and cinema. Activities on offer throughout the night, include the opportunity to sleep under Dippy, the much loved Diplodocus skeleton, a science show featuring gruesome forensics, life-drawing classes in the Darwin Centre atrium, an all-night natural horror movie marathon and cooked breakfast before the event ends. Tickets for the 16 August and 19 October events costs£175 (£160 for members) and are available online. Cromwell Road London SW7 5BD United Kingdom +44 (0)20 7942 5000 www.nhm.ac.uk
Science fans should seek out the Science Museum in the salubrious surroundings of South Kensington on the last Wednesday of every month, for an evening of (complimentary) adult only entertainment. The Science Museum Lates are themed, spanning issues as far apart as sex, alcohol and climate change, but always contain science demonstrations, Punk Science comedy shows, pub quizzes, the best silent disco in town (underneath real space rockets) and sell out speed dating. Dubbed ‘drinking and thinking’ by visitors, ‘Lates’ regularly attracts over 3500 adults per night, with DJs and bars on three floors of the museum. Where do we sign up? Exhibition Road, South Kensington, SW7 2DD (0870 870 4868; www.sciencemuseum.org)
Want to see masterpieces by Hogarth, Gainsborough, Whistler, Millais and more, in addition to works by contemporary artists like Lucian Freud and Damien Hirst? Make for Tate Britain which holds the largest collection of British art in the world, from 1500 to the present day. From Saturdays to Thursdays, Tate Britain is only open until 6pm (how inconvenient!), but on Fridays the museum doesn’t close its doors until a much more civilised 10pm. PS: Don’t miss Late at Tate Britain - a special evening of free events, films and talks - that takes place on selected Friday evenings. Millbank, SW1P 4RG (020 787 8888; www.tate.org.uk)
The hottest exhibition in town right now is arguably Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s. This major new show at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) explores how the club scene influenced the most experimental young designers of the decade, including Wendy Dagworthy, Betty Jackson, Katharine Hamnett, and John Galliano. Elsewhere David Bowie devotees need to be quick if they want to catch ‘David Bowie is.’ The event, which runs until 11 August 2013, showcases the mega musician’s spectacular stage costumes across five decades. Friday night is the perfect time to visit as the V&A (aka the world’s greatest museum of art and design) is open until late (typically around 10pm). Furthermore on the last Friday of every month, there’s the V&A’s programme of late events - exploring contemporary ideas ranging across fashion, design, music, art and performance - to look forward to. Next up on 26 July is the Friday Late: Peckham Takeover which aims to highlight work within the local community, while raising questions about the impact creativity can have on an area. Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL (020 8942 2000; www.vam.ac.uk)