Back in Business: The Barbican Centre reopens to the public


The Square Mile’s very best cultural institution, the Barbican Centre, is back – even if it isn’t exactly how we left it before lockdown.

The Barbican Art Gallery is currently open to the public and The Curve is back in action come 11 August.

You can also get your music, theatre and cinema fixes online – either head to the social media pages or main website to gain access. None of the Barbican Centre teams are taking a vacation now.

Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director of the Barbican said: ‘We are delighted to invite you back to the Barbican to start to enjoy culture and creativity together again. The safety of our audiences and staff remains our top priority and you’ll find detailed information on our website to help you feel confident about your visit here.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to return, but we know that not everyone will be able to join us in person, so we will continue to make thought-provoking digital content – including video tours of both our Masculinities and A Countervailing Theory exhibitions – freely available soon via our website. On behalf of everyone at the Barbican, we look forward to welcoming you back.”

Just make sure you plan your visit well in advance because they are operating at a reduced capacity. Everything, even the free exhibition, requires booking in advance. No spur of the moment visits for now.

Visual Arts

The main art gallery is welcoming visitors back to Masculinities: Liberation through Photography, which should be on every Londoners must-see list. The huge exhibition consists of striking photography and film from the 1960s to the present day, exploring the ways in which masculinity is experienced, performed, coded and socially constructed.

Having previously opened for just four weeks before the Barbican temporarily closed in March, the show’s run has been extended until 23 August 2020.

news london
Masculinities: Liberation through Photography at Barbican Art Gallery now runs until 23 August. Photo by Tristan Fewings

A Countervailing Theory, the first-ever UK commission from Toyin Ojih Odutola, will also open for the first time in The Curve on Tuesday 11 August. An epic cycle of new work explores an imagined ancient myth conceived by the artist, unfurling across the 90-metre long gallery and featuring an immersive soundscape by sound artist Peter Adjaye.

We were pumped to see this just before lockdown but are grateful for its eventual opening. Add the free exhibition on to any other Barbican Centre visit.

And if you want to give it a few more months before returning to big public spaces, then keep an eye out for their next visual arts exhibition opening on 7 October. It will be the first major exhibition of the famous dancer and choreographer Michael Clark – exploring his radical presence in British cultural history. Add it to the diary!


The Barbican has officially launched its new Cinema On Demand. This new streaming service showcases the best international films and hidden cinematic gems through independent on-release films, exclusive one-off titles and film seasons, curated by the Barbican Cinema team and selected partners.

Available to stream from home or on the move, the pay-per-view programme will also offer children’s titles from the popular Family Film Club programme, plus free additional content and virtual ScreenTalks. Cinema on Demand is available to audiences across the UK with a rolling four-week programme of titles and events that reflect the Barbican’s bold and international cinema programme. The first programme runs until 7 August while future films will be announced as we get further into August.


The ongoing situation with Covid-19 and the current Government guidelines means that the Barbican and its partners have had to cancel all planned autumn 2020 concerts, ranging from 1 September to 14 December. That’s why the their digital offerings have ramped right up, especially with upcoming concerts being streamed live from the Barbican Hall itself.

london magazine
You can soon watch some classical music performances from home

From October to December, a newly programmed series of concerts will take place in the Hall and be streamed on a pay-per-view basis. The new live-streamed concert programme will feature the Centre’s resident and associate orchestras as well as a hand-picked line-up of artists.

Depending on the Government’s advice at the time, the Barbican will bring reduced live audiences back to the Barbican Hall for some of these events, once it is safe and permitted to do so. That’s why you better follow their social channels for the most up-to-date info.

Theatre & Dance

It is still impossible to see live theatre and dance performances indoors at the moment. That’s why the Barbican Centre’s creative teams have launched a whole set of online content for us to stream over and over again. This includes a huge variety of performances, videos, podcasts, events and activities. Content can be found on the Barbican website or on BBC iPlayer.

And we are really into their new M-SET Activity Book which helps kids (and adults) create their own theatre productions at home. It’s an ingenious way to keep the little ones occupied and consistently creative during such stressful times.

For the latest headlines from the City of London and beyond, follow City Matters on TwitterInstagram and LinkedIn.