Form an orderly queue

Art lovers, clear your virtual diaries and move those Zoom calls, England’s galleries are reopening and you can once again see hundreds of artworks in real life. If you’re struggling to decide where to go first, here’s what’s on and when.  

The National Gallery

Diana and Actaeon Titian 1556-9

Diana and Actaeon Titian 1556-9, © The National Gallery London / The National Galleries of Scotland


The National Gallery will be the first national museum in the UK to reopen after the coronavirus shutdown, welcoming us back on 8 July after closing its doors for an unprecedented 111 days.

Adopting learnings from European and American museums which have opened ahead of it, all visits will be booked online and in advance to help manage the number of people in the Gallery, limit queueing and reduce contact. Although it will still be open seven days a week, there will be shorter opening hours to begin with (daily 11am-4pm, Friday 11am-9pm), and three one-way art routes to guide you through different areas of the collection.

The Titian: Love, Desire, Death exhibition, which had to close after just three days, will also reopen alongside Nicolaes Maes: Dutch Master of the Golden Age, which has been extended, until 20 September 2020.

Royal Academy of Arts

Picasso On Paper

Installation view of the Picasso and Paper exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. Photo © David Parry/Royal Academy of Arts © Succession Picasso/DACS 2020 Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Cleveland Museum of Art in partnership with the Musée national Picasso-Paris


The Royal Academy is set to unlock its doors to members from 9 July, and to the public from 16 July, with your last chance to see its five-star Picasso and Paper exhibition before it closes on 2 August. From studies for ‘Guernica’ to a 4.8-metre-wide collage, this major exhibition brings together more than 300 works on paper spanning the artist’s 80-year career. Booking is essential including for Friends of the RA. As visitor capacity will be greatly reduced due to social distancing, the RA says it will be an opportunity for a quieter, more contemplative experience. You’ll also need to wear a face covering and will find sanitising points and a one-way circulation throughout the building as part of its post Covid-19 measures. Initially, the RA will also open four days a week (Thursdays to Sundays) with slightly reduced hours.

Chief Executive Axel Rüger said: “Galleries should be places of community – providing solace, inspiration and enjoyment – and we are pleased to be able to offer this once more.”


Masculinities: Liberation through Photography

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography, Installation view Barbican Art Gallery, 20 February 2020 - 23 August 2020 ©Tristan Fewings / Getty Images


Barbican Art Gallery will welcome visitors back from 13 July. The reopening programme includes exhibition Masculinities: Liberation through Photography – having previously opened for just four weeks before the Barbican temporarily closed in March, the show’s run has been extended until 23 August – and new installation A Countervailing Theory by artist Toyin Ojih Odutola.

Barbican’s Head of Visual Arts, Jane Alison said: “It’s so brilliant to have the opportunity to reopen our Masculinities: Liberation through Photography exhibition, which had met with such acclaim earlier in the year. Now is your chance! Opening in August, we also invite you to experience Toyin Ojih Odutola’s epic cycle of works. This stunning project was almost ready to open just as lockdown happened – and again, I couldn’t be more delighted that we are finally able to introduce Ojih Odutola’s work to a London audience as part of our free programme of Curve artist commissions.”


Tate Modern interior

Tate Modern


On 27 July, Tate plans to reopen all four of its galleries, so you’ll once again be able to admire Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall as well as revisit Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives. To ensure everyone can keep a safe distance from each other, all visitors, including members, will need to book a timed ticket online in advance from next week though.

For those, that didn’t manage to catch them before lockdown, you’ll be pleased to know that Tate Modern will reopen with Andy Warhol and Kara Walker’s Hyundai Commission Fons Americanus, and Tate Britain will reopen with Aubrey Beardsley and Steve McQueen’s Year 3 installation. Tate Liverpool will unveil new work by Mikhail Karikis, and Tate St Ives will reopen the Naum Gabo exhibition.

Tate’s Director Maria Balshaw said: “We’re all looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Tate. Art and culture play vital roles in our lives, and many of us have been craving that irreplaceable feeling of being face-to-face with a great work of art.”