Museums are due to reopen on 17 May at the earliest, following the proposed easing of coronavirus restrictions. Check back nearer the time for confirmation and be aware that some venues listed may still be closed after that date. You may also need to book tickets in advance, even if entrance is free.
If you’re not able to visit the capital, you can still enjoy culture from your couch with our pick of virtual London museum exhibitions, all for free!
Virtual exhibitions to enjoy at home
If you’re not able to visit London, you can still soak up the city’s culture with these free exhibitions to enjoy from your home. Just sit back, log on and explore exhibits from some of London’s top museums.
1. Noteworthy Women at the Bank of England Museum
Ever wondered how banknotes were made, or the stories behind the people featured on them? The Bank of England Museum's online exhibition Noteworthy Women examines the stories of women who have created and appeared on British currency, and "notes" how the Queen's portrait has changed during her reign.
2. Making the Bridge Sing at Tower Bridge
Enjoy an artist’s take on the true story of a former cook at Tower Bridge, with the online exhibition Making the Bridge Sing. Mixing fantasy with fact, Di Mainstone has created a series of drawings and a film exploring the notion of the bridge singing and nature taking over the London icon.
3. Industrial Islington at London Canal Museum
The Regent’s Canal may nowadays be a hub for pleasure boats, but it’s had a long history of industry as well as recreation. Discover how the canal has touched the lives of those living and working along the its banks in Islington with the London Canal Museum’s online exhibition Industrial Islington.
4. Natural History Museum's digital exhibitions
Access 14 virtual exhibitions from the Natural History Museum, which span butterflies to dinosaurs and most things in between. You can also take virtual tours of key spaces, say hello to Hope the whale and even let Sir David Attenborough guide you through Hintze Hall – all from the comfort of your sofa!
5. Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the British Library
Discover objects uncovered from a shipwreck with Voices from the Deep, as part of The Postal Museum’s Make a Connection virtual series. Hear accounts from letters sent home by troops in India and discover objects that were being transported by the SS Gairsoppa before it was sunk in 1941 by a German U-boat.
7. Queer+ Croydon at Museum of Croydon
Trace the past and present history of the LGBT+ community in Croydon with the Museum of Croydon, as artist Mark Goldby shares his in-depth research in a series of themed exhibits every two weeks. Queer+ Croydon features artefacts, personal stories and treasured items that relate to how the visibility of the community has changed over time.
New London exhibitions
Ready to venture out for your cultural fix? Visit London's top museums as they reopen their doors with some unmissable exhibitions.
8. Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the Natural History Museum
Be amazed by the wonders of the natural world with the Wildlife Photographer of the Year. The Natural History Museum hosts a display of 100 images from professional and amateur photographers, which give a fascinating insight into the world's wildlife and their habitats across the globe. 16 Oct-6 Jun
9. Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace at The Queen’s Gallery
Step inside the Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace and view some of the most important paintings in the Royal Collection at Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace. Gaze in wonder at some of the Queen's favourite paintings, from the likes of Titian and Guercino to Guido Reni, Vermeer and Rembrandt. 4 Dec-31 Jan
10. Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature at the Natural History Museum
Embark on a magical adventure with Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature at the Natural History Museum, and learn about the world's amazing creatures and how we can help protect them for the future generations.
11. Bags: Inside Out at the V&A
From designer bags to vanity cases and military backpacks, learn all about the ultimate accessory with Bags: Inside Out at the V&A. This fashion-filled exhibition explores our fascination with this object, from the "it bags" which have taken the world by storm to historical pieces owned by royalty. From 12 Dec
12. Arctic: culture and climate at The British Museum
Discover the unique innovation and resourcefulness of the Indigenous peoples living in the Arctic at The British Museum. Learn how the native people survived and continue to survive in icy conditions, view ancient and modern artefacts, from a sculpture made out of mammoth ivory to a modern refitted snow mobile.-
13. Raphael Cartoons at the V&A
See one of the greatest treasures of the Renaissance, the Raphael Cartoons. View all seven of the full-scale designs painted by Raphael in the V&A’s Raphael Court, which reopens following a nine-month refurbishment to mark the 500th anniversary of his death. From 14 Nov
14. Derek Jarman: My Garden’s Boundaries are the Horizon at the Garden Museum
Gain some gardening inspiration at Lambeth’s Garden Museum, as new exhibition Derek Jarman: My Garden’s Boundaries are the Horizon delves into the film director’s artistic works and the coastal garden created next to his windswept home, Prospect Cottage in Dungeness. Until 13 Dec
15. Hidden London at London Transport Museum
The London Transport Museum’s Hidden London exhibition takes you beneath London's streets, into abandoned Tube stations. Learn how these now disused spaces were once functioning stations and discover how they played a crucial role in wartime efforts during the Second World War. You'll uncover posters, photos and even a recreated ticket hall! Until Jan
If you're keen to visit some of London's hidden stations, join one of the regular Hidden London tours.
16. Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs at Horniman Museum & Gardens
You can go face to face with fearsome fossils and prehistoric creatures, as Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs brings awe-inspiring animatronics, skeletons and full-scale models to Forest Hill’s Horniman Museum & Gardens. Until 3 Jan
17. Driverless: Who is in control? at the Science Museum
From self-driving cars to smart underwater vehicles like the Autosub Long Range "Boaty McBoatface", explore how increasingly sophisticated and autonomous machines have become and what living in an artificial intelligence-driven world could look like with Driverless: Who is in control? at the Science Museum. Until 5 Jan
18. Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers at the Design Museum
Be transported from Kensington to the dance floors of Berlin, Detroit and Paris, as you become immersed in 3D visuals, interactive experiences and electronic sets at the Design Museum’s electrifying exhibition. Electronic: From Kraftwerk to the Chemical Brothers charts how electronic music and rave culture has been shaped by iconic groups, but also by the fashion, art, design and technology worlds. Until 14 Feb
19. Out of the Blue: Fifty Years of Designers Guild at Fashion and Textile Museum
Chart the history of influential Chelsea design company, Designers Guild, at the Fashion and Textile Museum. Out of the Blue: Fifty Years of the Designer Guild examines how founder Tricia Guild created a new ideology, and showcases how she has inspired others to combine colour, pattern and texture in contemporary interiors. Until 21 Feb
20. Nightingale in 200 Objects, People and Places at Florence Nightingale Museum
21. The Krios of Sierra Leone at the Museum of London Docklands
Explore the largely untold story of the Krio people at the Museum of London Docklands' The Krios of Sierra Leone exhibition. Learn about the history, heritage and culture of the Krio community through a mix of contemporary objects from Krio Londoners and 19th-century objects from British colonial rule in Sierra Leone. Until 14 Mar
22. Hebrew Manuscripts: Journeys of the Written Word at British Library
Examine treasures dating back to the 10th century, as you learn about Jewish culture and traditions with Hebrew Manuscripts: Journeys of the Written Word at the British Library. This exhibition goes beyond the Bible to look at how knowledge has been shared between Jewish people and other communities in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and China. Until11 Apr
23. Refugees: Forced to Flee at the Imperial War Museum
Put yourself in the shoes of families fleeing from war over the past century as you view recordings, photographs, pieces of art and documents telling stories of thousands forced to make tough decisions due to conflict in Refugees: Forced to Flee at the Imperial War Museum. Until 24 May
In the meantime, see the museum's new installation Ai Weiwei on History of Bombs, which explores international migration and the human capacity for destruction.
24. JR: Chronicles at The Saatchi Gallery
View some of the most iconic projects by French artist JR in the JR: Chronicles exhibition at The Saatchi Gallery. Discover his early photographic projects including works from his international travels to Bethlehem, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and see his recent projects, including The Secret of the Great Pyramid made of 2000 pieces of paper. 13 Nov-9 Feb
25. Victoria: A Royal Childhood at Kensington Palace
Learn more about Queen Victoria in Kensington Palace's special exhibition marking 200 years since the monarch’s birth. Victoria: A Royal Childhood looks at a young Princess Victoria through treasured childhood items, such as a scrapbook given to her by her governess Baroness Lehzen, and charts her rise to an independently minded queen. Ongoing