The Museums at Night festival offers the chance to engage with history and culture in a unique and exciting way. During the festival, hundreds of museums, galleries and historic spaces all over the UK will open their doors after dark to put on an impressive and diverse array of special night-time events – gallery gigs, art happenings, twilight screenings, all-night sleepovers, nature walks, star gazing or simply to offer the chance to experience some of the UK’s cultural venues, historic houses and museums in a new light.

In London over 30 museums and galleries across the capital will be open late, from National Trust properties and major museums and galleries, to quirky spaces and hidden gems such as the London Museum of Water and Steam – Museums at Night offers the chance to discover museums on your doorstep that you didn’t even know existed.

London highlights include:

Museums at Night: Animated Minds at Bethlem Museum of the Mind, London (May 12) – a screening of a selection of the award-winning series of short films, ‘Animated Minds’, aimed at addressing stereotypes around mental illness. Andy Glynne (TBC) director of Mosaic Films will be talking about the project, which has won over 20 Awards, including a Mental Health Media Award, a BAFTA Children’s Award, an RTS Education Award and the City of Basel Prize for Educational Films. The animated films cover OCD, manic depression, agoraphobia, schizophrenia, Asperger’s Syndrome and self-harm.

Benjamin Franklin House ‘Candelit Architectural Tours London, (May 12-13) – The atmospheric rooms of Benjamin Franklin’s only remaining residence will be the feature of this night-time architectural tour, highlighting the original features of our Grade I listed Georgian townhouse in evening light.

The View – Museums at Night Sunset walk; a magic lantern show revisited London, (May 12) – A private view at The View followed by a guided heritage walk. Raise a glass of prosecco at sunset to William Vincent, Walthamstow photographer, magic lanternist, forest enthusiast and ornithologist of a hundred years ago.

Dr Johnson’s House – After Hours at Dr Johnson’s House, London (May 12) – Spend a summer’s eve exploring the four floors of 17 Gough Square before enjoying a complimentary glass of wine in Johnson’s atmospheric Withdrawing Room. Discover the Garret where the first comprehensive dictionary of the English language was written in the mid-18th century and see a first-edition copy of the work on display

Late at the Gate; Ye Olde Tavern Quiz, Museum of the Order of St John London (May 12-13) – St John’s Gate was once home to Ye Olde Jerusalem Tavern, watering hole for the likes of Dickens. In celebration of this history and as part of the Museums at Night festival, we are hosting a traditional pub quiz in the Museum’s beautiful historic rooms. The Jerusalem Tavern will be selling a range of beverages and bar snacks whilst our quiz master tests your team’s general knowledge! The Museum Galleries will be open to the public until 6:30pm when the bar opens and the quiz will begin at 7pm.

Stormy Seas and Starry Skies – Rainham Hall – National Trust, London (May 13-14) – Rainham Hall will be opening its doors after hours for an evening of seafaring fun. How did the Captain navigate his ships through dangerous waters? What stars would have led his ships to their destinations? Did he fight off pirates? What did he take with him on a long voyage? There will be performances from the Front of House Theatre Company and a chance to see the stars above Rainham Hall with the Havering Astronomical Society. Our Stables Café will also be open and offering refreshments. Explore the world of Captain Harle, the stormy seas and starry skies.

Banknotes and Bullion – Bank of England Museum, London (May 13) – The Bank of England Museum will be open from 5:30pm to 9:00pm offering a rare opportunity to visit out of regular opening hours. There will be ad-hoc gallery talks by the Museum’s team offering a unique insight into some of the most intriguing and fascinating objects of its treasured collections. Throughout the night there will be presentations on banknotes, with some of the Bank’s experts demonstrating easy ways to check that your banknotes are genuine and talking about the upcoming launch of polymer banknotes. Members of the Bank’s Bullion team will also be on hand to answer questions about gold and visitors can even try their hand at lifting a genuine bar of gold!

Banqueting House, London (May 13) – a late night opening and visit to the last remaining part of Whitehall Palace, previously the largest royal residence in Europe. Grab a drink from the bar in King James I’s drinking den and enjoy under the magnificent Rubens ceiling. Explore the highs and lows of the Stuart monarchy through various activities including talks.

Magic and Blues at London Museum of Water and Steam, London (May 13) – prepare to be spellbound as the award winning magician Toni Michieli comes to Museum where he will be preforming an exclusive show of sorcery with a ‘Steam Punk’ twist! Also featuring are West London’s finest Blues and Roots trio, much loved and critically acclaimed The Great West Groove who will be preforming live!

Osterley After Dark – Osterley Park and House, National Trust, Osterley Middlesex (May13) – Starting from theTudor stable block a guide will introduce you to Osterley’s origins as Thomas Gresham’s 16th century manor before exploring Robert Adam’s architectural masterpiece with the lights down low. Learn about the sinister and the sad, the dark and the dreadful as we travel deep onto Osterley’s hidden past with over 400 years’ worth of stories to share. Written and performed by Storyteller Lauren Hall. The tour will start outside before heading into the house. The house can also get quite cold so please bring warm clothing. The car park will be dark, a torch would be recommended. Accessibility: The tour will be using all floors of Osterley House.

BBC 6 Music presenter Lauren Laverne is the Ambassador for Museums at Night. She explains “Museums at Night is a fantastic initiative that really makes museums and galleries accessible, fun and interesting. It is so important to encourage a new generation to support and embrace arts and heritage in the UK. There are countless great events going on over the Museums at Night weekend – I can’t wait to sample some of them.”

Nick Stockman, Campaign Manager for Museums at Night said, ““Every year we’re delighted by the range of creative events that cultural and heritage venues programme as part of the festival. There will be hundreds of exciting after-hours opportunities for visitors to go behind the scenes, get hands-on, and discover amazing stories this May – watch this space!”

Museums at Night is part of the European event La Nuit des Musées, which takes place in Paris on May 21, 2016. It is coordinated by Culture24, an independent non-profit company that exists to support the cultural sector to reach and connect with audiences.

The Museums at Night festival has experienced phenomenal growth during the past eight years. Museums at Night took place twice for the first time in 2015. The festival attracted 220,000 visits to 700 events in more than 500 venues across the country. The festival is designed to encourage new audiences into museums and galleries.