When it comes to culture, few cities do it better than London. From galleries featuring world-renowned artists, to fascinating museum exhibitions, to grassroots art movements, London has it all.
And – what’s even better – tons of these cultural events last until late in the evening. From parties to performances to talks, there’s something going on almost every night in London’s best galleries and museums. While many party-parties open in the spring, there are still dozens of fascinating cultural events waiting for you.
So if you’re not sure what’s going on and where, here’s our pick of London’s best museums and galleries coming soon.
Every last Wednesday of the month, the Science Museum hosts a special Lates event. And this January coincides with the Chinese New Year. To celebrate the start of the Year of the Rabbit, the Science Museum has planned an extra fun evening, and tickets are still available. So if you feel like going out, expect a pub quiz, talks, hands-on workshops, tours and a quiet disco.
And since it’s a Science Museum, everything is top-notch: you can watch the first Chinese animated film, released in 1941, Princess Iron Fan; Michael Charton from the UCL Institute of Archeology will talk about the discoveries made by his team in the Terracotta Army; there will be a tour of the Chinese zodiac themed museum, and with the help of interactive virtual reality, you can take a spin around China’s new space station, the Tiangong Space Station.
Free, with optional donation, 6.30pm – 10pm, Exhibition Rd, SW7 2DD, sciencemuseum.org.uk
Another special Lunar New Year evening: Christie’s has planned a giant gala dinner – so big that the first 500 people to check in will receive a traditional Chinese red envelope as a gift.
There will be lectures and performances, workshops, exhibitions and a stand with tea drinks. Highlights include the screening of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Louisa Buck talks with art director Tim Yip about culture, history and orientalism; Hezhe pottery and fish skin painting workshops; and a performance by three Chinese musicians playing traditional instruments: lute pipa, zither guzheng and xiao flute.
Sold out, 6pm-9pm, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6QT, christie.com
The Barbican, as always, has a busy program of evening events, including films, shows and lectures. The museum’s architecture talks – the next of which, Tree Talks, takes place tonight – are particularly special. In a mini-lecture, 13 designers, artists, historians, collectors and architects will meet to talk about the role of trees in the city.
If that’s a little late for you, fear not, there’s another stellar event next month: British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye will be discussing his latest projects on March 1. Over the last few years, the Barbican has run several series dedicated to architecture, including Architecture on Film, which invites viewers to watch the most influential or thought-provoking films about architecture – there really are few better places in London for such a programme.
Tree Talks, £10, 7pm, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS, barbican.org.uk
Dulwich Picture Gallery
It’s hard to pinpoint when astrology went from distrustful pseudoscience to a semi-serious way of analyzing a new boyfriend, but graduate student Ferren Gipson may have the answers. In his February 1 lecture, Decoding Astrology in Art, the art historian traces how art and architecture have represented astrology over the years and how deeply they intertwine with religion, mythology and politics.
£12, 6.30pm-7.30pm, Gallery Rd, SE21 7AD, dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk
Sir John Soane Museum
Yet somehow, one of London’s hidden gems, the home of architect and collector John Soane is a treasure trove of paintings, sculptures, furniture and books.
Whether you love a museum or have been looking for a chance to visit, January 27th is the perfect time to pop in as it is Soane Literary Late. Guests will receive a glass of wine or prosecco and will be invited to explore the candlelit museum. Robert Seatter, head of history at the BBC, will be reading pop-ups from his latest book, The House of Everything: Poems Inspired by Sir John Soane’s Museum, and many of Soane’s private collections of books will be on display in the evening.
£25, shift entry at 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, Lates Tate Modern returns with a bang and this time the events of the evening focus on the celebration of the Polish sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz. There will be a DJ set programmed by Global Roots, the artist talks about both Polish theater and Abakanowicz’s influence, as well as a screening of the experimental film The Witch’s Cradle, inspired by Abakanowicz’s sculptures.
There will be Japanese weaving and jute workshops, readings of Polish folklore, and the Turbine Hall will be taken over by the Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña, who makes giant textile fabrics.
Free, 6pm-10pm, Bankside, SE1 9TG, tate.org.uk
Looking for an evening lecture, panel discussion or talk? The Royal Academy has you covered. Amanda Levete RA, director of AL_A’s architectural practice, and Dr. Marcus Burke, senior curator of the Hispanic Society Museum and Library in New York, give speeches in February.
Amanda Levete RA, £15, 6.30pm – 8pm, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD, royalacademy.org.uk