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Museums at Night Festival 2012

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by Sandra Lawson (subscribe)
To paraphrase Dorothy: 'There is no place like London.' I hope I can convince you of that here. Also check out my blog at and my theatre reviews at
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We all lead busy lives so late night museum openings are a boon for those of us who wish there were 25 hours in a day and eight days in a week. If you need a culture fix, or just want to do something different in the evening, there is a huge choice of places to visit. Many also have special events or talks laid on to enhance your enjoyment. This is just a small sample of where you could go over the weekend of 18-20 May.

Friday, 18 May

You could head out of town to seventeenth-century Ham House near Richmond.

You might want to head south of the river to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich to learn about beers brewed from Thames water, and then take part in a quiz to test how much you can remember. If you're more of a sober frame of mind, you could just take advantage of this late night opening to see the 'Royal River' exhibition, which is part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Museums at Night 2012 Festival
Royal River Pageant at the National Maritime Museum - Picture Courtesy of the Museum's Website

Remaining in south east London, the Horniman museum will be opening its doors to 'The Body Adorned', where you can learn about western and non-western tattoo traditions.

Museums at Night 2012 Festival
The Body Adorned - Picture Courtesy of Time Out's Website

The Cartoon Museum in Bloomsbury will be hosting an Edwardian evening. Postcards and cartoons from the era will be available and there will also be a talk about Edwardian women. Remaining in Bloomsbury, the Grant Museum of Zoology at UCL will be hosting a hunt to find objects of love and lust, culminating in drinks and a private view of the museum. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology at UCL will be open late on Saturday night for a screening of Carry on Cleo followed by a talk on the film.

Museums at Night 2012 Festival
The Petrie Museum - Picture Courtesy of their Website

The London Transport Museum is running 'Mind the Map', which will include a workshop, a reading and a cocktail bar.

Museums at Night 2012 Festival
Mind the Map at the London Transport Museum - Picture Courtesy of the Museum's Website

Somerset House is staying open late for guided tours, workshops and live music on all three nights: Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The Ragged School Museum
will be staging an evening with '60s photographer, Terry O'Neill, who has photographed many stage and screen actors throughout his long career.

Museums at Night 2012 Festival
Raquel Welch Photographed by Terry O'Neill - Picture Courtesy of Time Out's Website

If you're more interested in paintings than photographs, there's still time to catch up with the Lucian Freud portraits at the National Portrait Gallery.

Museums at Night 2012 Festival
Lucian Freud Exhibtion - Picture Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery Website

The Bank of England Museum will be open late for visitors to learn more about gold and banknotes.

Saturday, 19 May

You may find you need gold and banknotes to buy Christian Louboutin shoes, but if you just want to dream, you could toddle off to the Design Museum for lullabies and shoe-related bedtime stories to help you dream about this fabulous footwear with the red soles.

Museums at Night 2012 Festival
Christian Louboutin Shoes - Picture Courtesy of the Design Museum Website

If you have inquisitive children who wouldn't dream of squashing a bug under the sole of their shoes, why not head off to John Keats House in Hampstead to learn about the kind of insects that live in a Regency House?

Museums at Night 2012 Festival
John Keats House

Saturday, 19 May

The Benjamin Franklin House, close to Trafalgar Square, will be open for visitors to learn more about the eighteen-century American statesman who spent many years in this country.

Museums at Night 2012 Festival
Benjamin Franklin House

Sunday, 20 May

The Museum of Soho will be home to Future Shorts. The evening will be devoted to a history of short films and six of these, including ones by directors Sam Taylor-Wood and Spike Jonze, will be screened.

Many of the events have to be pre-booked, so be sure to contact the individual locations in advance.

See also:

Diamond Jubilee Celebrations

John Keats House

Lucian Freud Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery

Bank of England Museum

The Benjamin Franklin House

London Transport Museum
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Why? To take advantage of late night openings
When: Outside of normal opening hours on 18, 19 and 20 May
Where: All around London
Cost: Varies
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