This week’s UK-wide Museums at Night festival lets you visit awe-inspiring venues after dark from May 15-17. Natasha Polyviou picks out the best events, from a murder hunt to spooky storytelling.
Delve Into a Creepy Collection: Extremes Late
If there’s one thing guaranteed to give you the heebie-jeebies after dark, it’s taxidermied animals. And the Horniman has case upon creepy case of them, from an entire display of decapitated pet dogs to spliced-together curios like a Japanese monkey-fish/mermaid. Quirky crowd-pullers based on the ‘Extremes’ exhibition theme include Victorian folk tales whispered by lantern light in the stuffed animal gallery (extremely chill-inducing), the chance to have your portrait drawn by the ‘Modern Toss’ cartoonists (extremely rude), and classical guitar performed on a tightwire (extremely foolhardy). Horniman Museum, 100 London Rd, SE23 3PQ. £5. 6.30pm-9.30pm. Thu May 15.
Brave Haunted History: Ghosts of the Royal Arsenal
Unsurprisingly for a venue with a long history of gun manufacture and explosives testing, the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich has a blood-spattered history of accidents, murders and suicides. Steel yourself for a late-night ghost tour to find out why battle-hardened soldiers refuse to enter the Academy Building alone and why the staff at Firepower won’t lock up solo. Warm up at the end with a hot drink and bangers and mash. They’re included in the ticket price – it’s the least they can do after scaring the hell out of you. Firepower: Royal Artillery Museum, The Royal Arsenal, SE18 6ST. £15. 8pm-10pm. Sat May 17.
Bang the Gavel: UK Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has heard cases including Julian Assange’s extradition hearing. Now the Grade II*-listed building is opening to the public in the evening for the first time in its short five-year history. Take your seat in court to watch the Inner Temple Drama Society perform legally inspired theatre, see court artist Isobel Williams in action or just sip themed cocktails and listen to live jazz. Tickets must be booked in advance – and that’s the final verdict. Supreme Court, Parliament Square, SW1P 3BD. £6, £5 concs. 6pm-9pm. Thu May 15.
Get Sleuthing: UCL Museums Murder Mystery
You’d expect something macabre from the university that keeps the preserved skeleton of philosopher Jeremy Bentham in a cabinet on campus, and the Bloomsbury institution delivers with this detective night. A murder has taken place at one of its three museums and there are prizes for the best-turned out detectives as well as the team that solves the clues and cracks the case. Starts in JZ Young Lecture Theatre, Anatomy Building, University College London, Gower St, WC1E 6BT. Free. 6pm-9pm. Fri May 16.
Raise a Glass: Classic Beer Advertising
Your beer goggles are about to get misty as you fire up whatever brain cells alcohol hasn’t killed to revisit the ‘Guinness Is Good For You’ posters which debuted in the1930s and ran for several decades. Younger visitors can reminisce over the ’90s alcopops on display at the Museum of Brands. Beer writer Pete Brown screens a reel of classic adverts and reveals the many ways that the humble pint has been flogged to the public over the years. Fear not, there’ll be a fully stocked bar on standby. Hic. Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising, 2 Colville Mews, W11 2AR. £10. 6pm-9pm. Thu May 15.
Go Retro: Goodbye Piccadilly
Escape commuter hell at the London Transport Museum’s 1914-style celebration, to launch the World War I centenary exhibition ‘Goodbye Piccadilly: From Home Front to Western Front’. Gentlemen can visit the Edwardian grooming salon and ladies can create a feathered fascinator, all against the flickeringly atmospheric backdrop of the 1916 silent film ‘East Is East’. Move right down inside the vintage carriages for a classy night out. London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza, WC2E 7BB. £10, £8 concs. 6.45pm-10pm. Fri May 16.
Museums at Night runs Thu May 15 – Sat May 17. If that’s not enough, check out 22 featured Museums at Night events.