London guide books are crammed full of museums and historical buildings to visit around the city. What they neglect to tell you, however, is the special events and exhibitions these premises put on throughout the calendar year. With touring exhibitions, night-time tours of historical houses (especially for Halloween!) and late opening times, there’s loads of culture to feast on, so carry on reading to find out how and where to find it…
I went along to RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) last week for one of their #LateTuesday events. Their current exhibition, a look at Palladian Design over time, started in September and runs until January, so it was a great opportunity to check that out! The exhibition looks at how the style began in Italy with Andrea Palladio in the 1500s and how it was used worldwide, even in London architecture later on.
We also had a guided tour of the building which was fantastic and insightful (next time you pass 66 Portland Place, check out the artwork in the steel doorway!) and the event offered talks, poetry exploration and crafts, all around the history of art and architecture. I dropped into the talk on pop culture and a poetry reading about Keats and London life. There were plenty of refreshments and floors to explore and, my personal favourite thing, which was having a look at which wonderful and wacky buildings have won the RIBA building of the year award (past winners include the Scottish Government Building and The Gherkin!) The next late at RIBA will be in March but feel free to drop by for guided tours and to check out the Palladian exhibition in the meantime.
Another great venue to visit is the National Portrait Gallery, just off Trafalgar Square. With loads of collections to see in the main body of the gallery, they also offer some fantastic travelling exhibitions on the side. Last month I visited the Audrey Hepburn exhibition which, although it was a little busy in there, offered a fantastic picture into the life and career of Hepburn, starting from humble beginnings in Belgium, moving to the UK, the different phases of her career and what she did later in her life, all in pictorial form. The space lended itself well to the photographic journey and I’d recommend checking out their upcoming offering of the Vogue exhibition, starting in February!
My last must-see exhibition is The Crime Museum Uncovered at the Museum of London. You can drop in until April next year to see actual weird and wonderful objects from the Met Police’s crime museum. These objects have only been seen by police professionals before and date back as far as the late 1800s, so it’s a real treat. With items from the Krays, the Great Train Robbery and IRA attacks, it may leave you slighty uneasy, but equally fascinated.
With so many diverse and interesting exhibitions around London, make sure you check online before you visit to see what else you can do at that venue, at that time. And definitely check out my picks above! What other exhibitions have you spotted around the city?