When it comes to culture, few cities do this better than London. From galleries showcasing world-famous artists to fascinating museum exhibits to grassroots art movements, London has it all.
And – even better – tons of these cultural events last until late in the evening. From parties to performances to talks, something is happening almost every night in London’s best galleries and museums. While many of the party parties open in the spring, there are still dozens of fascinating cultural events to attend.
If you’re unsure of what’s going on where, here’s our pick of the best upcoming London museums and galleries.
On the last Wednesday of each month, the Science Museum holds a special Lates event. And this January coincides with the Chinese New Year. An extra fun evening is planned at the Science Museum to celebrate the year of the rabbit, and tickets are still available. So, if you fancy stopping by, you can expect a pub quiz, talks, hands-on workshops, tours, and a quiet disco.
And since it’s the Science Museum, it’s all top quality stuff: you can watch China’s first animated movie, Princess Iron Fan, which was released in 1941; Michael Charton of the UCL Institute of Archaeology will talk about his team’s Terracotta Army discoveries; There will be a Chinese Zodiac themed museum tour, and you can take a tour around the Tiangong Space Station, China’s new space station, using interactive VR.
Free, donation on demand, 6:30 p.m.–22.00, Exhibition Road, SW7 2DD, sciencemuseum.org.uk
Another special evening for the Lunar New Year: Christie’s has planned a huge celebration night – so big that the first 500 people to check in will be gifted a traditional Chinese red envelope.
There will be talks and performances, workshops, exhibitions and a tea and beverage station. Highlights include the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon movie screening; A conversation between Louisa Buck and art director Tim Yip on culture, history and orientalism; pottery and Hezhe fish skin painting workshops; and a performance by three Chinese musicians using traditional instruments pipa lute, guzheng zither and xiao flute.
Sold out, 6pm–9pm, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6QT, christies.com
As always at Barbican, there is a packed evening program of events, featuring movies, shows and talks. The museum’s architecture talks – the next tree talks will be held this evening – are particularly outstanding. In the mini-lesson, 13 designers, artists, historians, collectors and architects will come together to talk about the role of trees in the city.
If this has been a bit too last-minute for you, fear not, there’s another star event in a month: British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye will be discussing his latest projects on March 1. Barbican has been running several series on architecture for the past few years, including Film on Architecture, where audiences are invited to watch some of architecture’s most influential or thought-provoking films – there really is very little room for such a program in London.
Tree Talks, £10, 19.00, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS, barbican.org.uk
Dulwich Picture Gallery
It’s hard to pinpoint when astrology has become a semi-serious way to analyze a new boyfriend from an untrusted pseudoscience, but PhD researcher Ferren Gipson may have answers. The art historian tracks down how art and architecture have represented astrology over the years, and how they are deeply intertwined with religion, mythology and politics, at his February 1 conference entitled Deciphering Astrology in Art.
£12, 18.30–19.30, Gallery Rd, SE21 7AD, dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk
Sir John Soane Museum
Yet somehow, the home of architect and collector John Soane, one of London’s hidden gems, is like a treasure trove of paintings, sculptures, furniture and books.
Whether you love the museum or are looking for this opportunity to visit, January 27 is the perfect opportunity to drop by, as Soane Literary is Late. Guests will be offered a glass of wine or prosecco and invited to explore the museum by candlelight. The BBC Head of History, Robert Seatter, will do short readings from his latest book, The House of Everything: Poems Inspired by Sir John Soane’s Museum, and Soane’s many private book collections will be on display for the evening. .
£25, tiered entry 6:00 PM, 6:30 PM, 7:30 PM or 8:00 PM, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2A 3BP, soane.org
On February 24, Tate Modern’s Lates returned with a bang and this time all the night’s events focused on celebrating Polish sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz. There will be a DJ set programmed by Global Roots, the artist will talk about both Polish theater and Abakanowicz’s influences, and there will be a screening of The Witch’s Cradle, an experimental film inspired by Abakanowicz’s sculptures.
There will also be Japanese floor loom and hemp weaving workshops, Polish folklore readings, and Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña, who makes giant textile works, will take over the Turbine Hall.
Free, 18.00–22.00, Bankside, SE1 9TG, tate.org.uk
Looking for an evening class, panel discussion or talk? The Royal Academy protects you. Amanda Levete RA, AL_A director of architecture practice, and Senior Curator of the New York Hispanic Society Museum & Library, Dr. Marcus Burke will be speaking in February.
Amanda Levete RA, £15, 18.30–20.00, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD, royalacademy.org.uk