Which London museums offer late-night openings?

11 June 2024

A visit to a museum is undoubtedly a journey into the heart of history, culture, and art. However, not everyone has the time to fit in a museum visit during their regular hours. If that describes your situation, then you're in luck. A multitude of museums in London extend their hours into the night, providing an exciting, unique, and often quieter experience for those who have jam-packed days or simply prefer to explore their exhibits under the glow of the moon. This article will guide you through some of the top museums in London that offer late-night openings.

The Tate Modern

If you're yearning to immerse yourself in the world of modern and contemporary art, then the Tate Modern is the museum for you. Situated on the former Bankside Power Station, this iconic museum houses works from the likes of Picasso, Warhol, and Hockney, among others.

Every Friday and Saturday, the Tate Modern opens its doors until 10 pm, granting you ample time to wander around its vast collection. One of the best features of this museum is its turbine hall, a massive room used to host large scale contemporary art installations. What's more, the entry is free for the permanent collection, although some special exhibitions might require advance booking and an admission fee.

The Science Museum

Another must-visit museum in London, the Science Museum, also offers late-night openings. On the last Wednesday of every month, the museum remains open till 10 pm. During these 'Lates' nights, you will not only get to explore its seven floors filled with interactive exhibits, but also enjoy thematic workshops, talks, and live demonstrations.

One of the museum's highlights is the 'Making the Modern World' gallery, displaying iconic items like the Apollo 10 command capsule and the first Apple computer. Remember that although the museum provides free entry, some exhibitions and activities during the 'Lates' might require advance booking and a ticket.

The Natural History Museum

For those of you intrigued by nature and the evolution of life on earth, the Natural History Museum is the destination. You can explore their galleries filled with specimens, ranging from dinosaur skeletons to rare minerals.

The museum offers late-night hours on the last Friday of every month, staying open until 10 pm. These 'Lates' similarly allow visitors to explore the museum's permanent collections and enjoy special activities like behind-the-scenes tours or expert-led talks. The museum's entry is free, but certain exhibitions and events may have an admission fee and require advance booking.

The Victoria and Albert Museum

Known as the world's leading museum of art and design, the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) offers thousands of years of creativity through its phenomenal collection spanning over 5,000 years and including over 2.3 million objects.

The V&A provides late-night openings every Friday, extending its hours until 10 pm. During this time, visitors can explore the museum's 145 galleries, which showcase a myriad of themes such as fashion, architecture, and sculpture. The museum also hosts 'Friday Late' events, transforming the museum into a cultural hub with live performances, cutting-edge fashion, film, installations, debates, special guests, and DJs. The entry to the museum is free, but please note that some exhibitions require tickets.

The British Museum

Last but not least, the British Museum is among the most iconic museums in London, if not the world. It houses a vast collection of world art and artifacts, including the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles.

While the British Museum does not have a set late-night opening schedule, it extends its hours for certain special exhibitions and events. During these occasions, the museum stays open until 8.30 pm or sometimes even later. The entry to the museum and many of its galleries is free, but special exhibitions and events require tickets, which often need to be booked in advance.

In conclusion, a late-night museum visit is an experience you wouldn't want to miss. It offers a unique way to soak in the city's rich history, culture, and art. So, next time you're in London and looking for an evening activity, be sure to check out these museums and their after-hours offerings.

Museum of London

For history enthusiasts, the Museum of London provides a unique perspective on London's history from prehistoric times to the present day. This museum is located in the heart of London, on London Wall. It brings the past to life through its immersive exhibits and state-of-the-art multi-media presentations.

An exciting feature of this museum is its late-night opening every Friday until 9 pm. During these hours, visitors can explore the museum's galleries at a leisurely pace, taking in the rich tapestry of London's past. The gallery rooms are exquisitely designed to transport you back in time, providing snapshots of different eras in London's history.

One must-visit exhibit is the 'London Before London' gallery which showcases the city's history from 450,000 BC to AD 50. Other highlights include the 'Medieval London' gallery that brings to life the years 410 to 1558, and the 'War, Plague & Fire' gallery which covers the tumultuous years 1550s to 1660s.

Another compelling reason for a late-night visit is their special events, which often include live music, performances, and expert-led talks. The museum also has a stylish bar and restaurant, where you can enjoy a meal or drink after your exploration. The free entry to the museum is a bonus, although certain special exhibits may have an admission fee.

National Gallery

Art lovers will find their paradise at the National Gallery. Positioned at Trafalgar Square, this monument to art houses over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to the 20th century. The collection includes masterpieces by artists like Van Gogh, Renoir, Titian, and Vermeer.

Every Friday, the National Gallery extends its opening hours until 9 pm. During these late-night hours, you can admire the works of art in a peaceful setting, away from the hustle and bustle of daytime crowds.

The paintings are divided into collections by period and style, taking you on an artistic journey through time. One of the most notable rooms is the Sainsbury Wing, where you can enjoy Early Renaissance art from 1200 to 1500. Remember to check out Room 34, known as the 'Great Gallery,' which houses some of the gallery's most famous works.

The gallery also has a rich program of temporary exhibitions and events, ranging from art history courses and artist talks to drawing workshops and guided tours. These events, however, may require an additional fee and advance booking.

While each room of the gallery is an art treasure itself, the late-night opening offers a unique, almost magical experience. The soft evening light adds a new dimension to the paintings, making it a memorable visit.


London, known for its vibrant cultural scene, offers numerous opportunities for those looking for an alternative way to spend their evenings. With late-night openings, museums in London open up a world of art, history, and science to explore under the stars. Whether you're captivated by the modern art at Tate Modern or intrigued by the historical artifacts at the British Museum, or you're yearning to dive into London's past at the Museum of London or immerse yourself in centuries of art at the National Gallery, these museums offer unforgettable experiences. Remember that while many of these museums offer free entry, some exhibits and events might require booking and fees. So, mark your calendars, prepare for a night of discovery, and see London's museums in a different light.

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