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Museums at Night 2014

Museums at Night, the annual night-time festival of arts, heritage and culture, will take place between Thursday 15 May and Saturday 17 May this year.

The packed programme sees the UK’s best museums, galleries and public spaces putting on cultural events over the three-day festival. Here’s what to look forward to in London:

Over two nights (15-16 May) the 13 museums along the length of Museum Mile, stretching from Aldwych to Kings Cross, will be opening their doors from 6 to 9pm for pre-booked walking tours run by In Midtown, giving an unprecedented insight into the connections between the various iconic museums.

Following previous years’ success Somerset House will open its doors late for Museums at Night visitors to enjoy exhibitions and displays, including interactive workshops, tours and screenings, all accompanied by live music in the Seamen’s Hall.

The Horniman Museum & Gardens is extending its new family-friendly exhibition Extremes into the night, showing how artists react to extreme environments, with hot music from Zimbabwe, extremely high acrobatics, storytelling by candlelight and film screenings depicting submarine life.

The London Transport Museum is opening late on the Friday for its new exhibition Goodbye Piccadilly – from home front to Western front. Go along to find out the role London buses and bus drivers played during the First World War and how the city prepared for war. There will also be a perfume workshop by Odette Toilette and the opportunity to craft a feathered fascinator with Lulu O’Neil of Slightly Scarlett.

The RAF Museum, Hendon is hosting London-based musical duo Public Service Broadcasting for three exclusive gigs during Museums at Night. Each gig will be hosted in a secret location at the museum, perfect for artists that weave samples from old public information films, archive footage and propaganda material around their electronic set.  Also on the night visitors can help knit a life-sized plane, or dance to the Silent Disco in the shadow of an RAF Lancaster Bomber.

The Royal Artillery Museum is hosting a guided Ghosts of the Royal Arsenal tour. Find out why even battle-hardened soldiers refuse to enter the Academy Building or lock-up the Firepower display alone. There’ll also be bangers and mash and hot cups of tea and coffee to fight off the chill.

The National Portrait Gallery is hosting a special dance performance on 16 May from the English National Ballet, inspired by David Jones’ seminal World War I poem In Parenthesis.

Pandemonium Theatre will stage the macabre Theatre of Blood, Dance of Death, Drink of Life, a reinterpretation of Hecuba and Titus Andronicus, in the underground chamber at the Brunel Museum, where six men died and Brunel nearly drowned. There will also be tango and dance workshops and cocktails at the roof top pop-up Midnight Apothecary bar.

Head over to the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology for an evening of intrigue and subterfuge as visitors must solve clues across the museum to crack the UCL Museum murder mystery. As well as a prize for the team who solves the case, there are prizes for the best dressed detectives, with a drinks reception in The Grant Museum.

You can also create your own political slogan under the expert guidance of Kelvyn Smith, aka Mr Smith, at the William Morris Gallery. Or lift a genuine gold bar weighing 13kg during a rare opportunity to visit the Bank of England Museum after hours.

If all of that just sounds exhausting then join in The Big Power Nap on Friday 16 May at the Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman Amphitheatre. The Undercroft gallery – ruins of London’s Roman Amphitheatre – will be converted into a 2000 year old chill-out zone with ambient sounds and a roving masseuse on hand to provide a relaxing break from London life.

Other nap-spaces include the popular Dino Snores at the Natural History Museum, where you can bed in for a mix of music, art, science and cinema, and Kensington Palace is opening its doors late for a Museums at Night sleepover for children aged 7 to 11.

The Museums at Night event programme is always being updated, so to keep on top of all the amazing things going on visit www.museumsatnight.org.uk or follow @MuseumsatNight and #MatN2014 on Twitter. The BBC will also be covering the event in various capacities across the three days.