WHY are we all so fascinated by what goes on in a museum after dark? Are we tired of nightlife in its traditional format and craving new experiences? Is there a childish thrill to be had from being in a place after closing time? Or do we genuinely believe there’s...
WHY are we all so fascinated by what goes on in a museum after dark? Are we tired of nightlife in its traditional format and craving new experiences?
Is there a childish thrill to be had from being in a place after closing time? Or do we genuinely believe there’s life among sculptures and stuffed animals when the clock strikes midnight?
It must be a combination of all three, based on the popularity of the bi-annual Museum at Night Festival, which returns this weekend to give us all another look behind the doors of the some of London’s most popular museums after hours.
Late night parties, twilight tours, artist commissions, talks, installations and events are all part of a programme that explores different facets of our experience with these cultural institutions after dark.
So if you’re sick of donning the same old witch’s hat every Halloween weekend and sipping scarily bad Chardonnay, get yourself to one of the City’s best museums and galleries after closing time.
All Hallow’s Eve is the one night of the year dedicated to telling stories of the dearly departed and reading the fortunes of friends and loved ones, so where better to do so than in the townhouse of one of Britain’s most beloved storytellers? Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of a Victorian home after dark, or find out what the future has in store with the help of a fortune-telling housemaid who has a habit of reading cards when she’s not scrubbing floors. And if things aren’t looking great, not to worry – there’s a candlelit bar open throughout the evening.
26 October, 6pm to 10pm, tickets £16
48 Doughty Street WC1N 2LX
Tower Bridge’s first ever out-of-hours immersive experience will be a whodunnit hosted in the famous Engine Rooms. Teams will have one hour to solve the mysterious disappearance of the Bridge Master in Raising Suspicions: A Fiendish Mystery Inside Tower Bridge’s Engine Rooms. They will quiz key suspects, investigate their surroundings and follow the trail of suspicion around the impressive Victorian machinery to determine exactly whodunnit and why.
26 October, 7pm and 9pm, £15
Tower Bridge Road SE1 2UP
The 325-year-old Bank of England is imposing enough before you learn it has its very own ghost wandering the halls. Word has it that a woman in a veil has been traipsing around looking for her brother since the early 1800s. Why? Pay a visit to the museum at 6pm, 7pm or 8pm to find out. The museum and archive teams will also be revealing unique objects from the Bank’s collection, including the history of banknotes and how they have evolved throughout the years. The security teams have night vision though, so don’t go getting any ideas.
27 October, 5.30pm to 9pm, free
Bartholomew Lane EC2R 8AH
Did you know St John’s Ambulance traces its roots back to an ancient religious military order that cared for sick pilgrims in 11th century Jerusalem? Nor did we, but best start reading up on your medieval history as it will be tested as part of the Museum of the Order of St John’s Late at the Gate Ye Olde Tavern Quiz. History enthusiasts seeking enlightenment may find it in this special medieval quiz to celebrate the opening of the museum’s latest exhibition Holy City, Holy War: Devotion to the Sacred in Crusader Jerusalem. A step up from your average pub quiz.
26 October, 6pm to 9.30pm, £30 per team
St John’s Gate EC1M 4DA
In what sounds like the coolest sleepover your kids have ever been to, the Museum of London is opening up after dark for youngsters to don their scariest costume and trick or treat their way around the galleries by torchlight, answering history questions to collect sweets. They can wander along an eerie recreated Victorian street and help solve crimes, or listen to terrifying tales from 19th-century London, including the story of Jekyll & Hyde and the infamous barber of Fleet Street. Then it’s time for Gothic mask-making before bedding down in one of the galleries surrounded by fascinating objects from London’s history and a screening of one of the greatest scary movies of all time; Hocus Pocus.
Jealous? Don’t be, parents can join in too.
27 October, 6.30pm, £60
Museum of London EC2Y 8DS