Three of the capital’s biggest museums have confirmed that they will reopen in August in the news that will gladden cultured Londoners and stressed-out summer-holidaying parents alike.
The Natural History, the Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum collectively attract millions of visitors each year to what marketers insist on calling London’s ‘Museum Quarter’ in South Kensington.
But, like the rest of the cultural institutions in town, since March they have been closed.
Now the three resume, albeit in a slightly altered form. For starters, you can no longer wander in off the street. One of South Ken’s joys has always been that if you’re waiting to meet someone or have time to kill, you can spend a happy hour just strolling around one of its massive free cultural cathedrals. Now, not. All three museums will admit visitors only in pre-booked, timed slots. No more to hide from the rain.
First up, on August 5, is the Natural History Museum. It’s timed slots with limiting numbers. Most of its galleries, including the Hintze Hall with its blue-whale skeleton and dinosaur gallery, will be open as usual, but some of them – where social distancing is not possible – will remain closed. The café will be open, with the seating reduced. There’s a handy map on the NHM website showing what’s available. Opening times are Wednesday to Sunday, 11 am to 6 pm. Free general admission tickets are available to pre-book from Thursday, July 16. More info on its site.
Next up to fling open its doors again is the V&A. The museum will initially operate from Thursday to Sunday, from 11 am to 3 pm, partially reopening from August 6, before extending those hours from August 27 to 11 am to 7 pm. Galleries which will be open as usual include the spectacular galleries of Cast Courts and Sculpture, Medieval and Renaissance galleries, Fashion galleries, and Asian galleries. The museum’s ‘Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk’ exhibition, which has been visitable online throughout the lockdown, will reopen IRL on August 27. Note that there are no cloakroom facilities, so don’t turn up with a suitcase—full details on its site.
Last to the post, but surely the best positioned when it comes to the technicalities of a pandemic, the Science Museum is back in business from August 19. It also does free pre-booked tickets, but when it comes to opening times, it goes all the hog, receiving visitors every day, from 10 am to 6 pm You may or may not wish to explore the Wellcome Medicine Galleries, depending on your mood. Still, you ‘re going to want to check out giant displays dedicated to space, technology, vehicles and various steam engines, computers, plus a special driverless car exhibition. Some bits including the garden will remain closed—more visitor information on its site.