Museum Mum picks: October 2020

It’s looking like a busy month for culture lovers, with new art openings, autumnal activities – and a half-term so jam-packed it demands a separate guide! Here’s my pick of cultural activities for London families throughout October:

Seo Young-Deok, Meditation 1554, 2019. Image copyright Opera Gallery.

The first every Mayfair Sculpture Trail explores temporary and permanent artworks on the streets and in the arcades of Mayfair. New works include Kalliopi Lemos’s 9ft high ‘Handbag of Aspirations’, a giant meditating head by Seo Young-Deok and a massive rock with nine eyes by Laurent Grasso. Download SMARTIFY and scan the artworks to access the audio guide. Throughout October 2020, FREE, just turn up. More info here.
NB – The Inside Out festival, which included the lighting up of Marble Arch, has been postponed until early 2021.

Celebrate the orchard in Fulham Palace‘s annual Apple Day festival. This year’s offering features food stalls, green woodworking, live music by Threepenny Bit, beekeepers, flower identification and an arts and crafts market. 4 October 2020, FREE, just turn up.

National Maritime Museum‘s Discover Sundays look at Black histories and futures. 4/11/18/25 October 2020, FREE, book ahead.

Check out the Fun Palace website to find extra-small, hyper-local events aiming to put community fun at the heart of culture. This year includes activities at Rainham Hall, black history month puppet workshops at Little Angel Theatre and a window decorating workshop at National Maritime Museum. There’s over 180 digital fun palaces too if you prefer to take part at home. 3-4 October 2020, FREE, book ahead.


*Virtual* Little LICAF has tons of comic art events including ‘Grumpycorn’ book readings with Stephen Holland, manga drawing workshops, insight into the history of the Beano, plus downloads and tutorials. Designed especially for kids aged 12 and under and their families. 9-11 October, FREE. Here’s the whole programme.

Frieze Sculpture returns to Regents Park. Explore 12 outdoor works by internationally acclaimed artists including Lubaina Himid, Richard Long, Sarah Lucas and Rebecca Warren. 5-18 October, FREE, just turn up. Click here for more information.

Brighten your day with Bruce Nauman‘s neons at Tate Modern. Expect immersive installations with a strong emphasis on sound and moving image, as well as poetic sculptures and neon pieces from this ground-breaking contemporary artist. 7 October 2020-21 February 2021, paid, book ahead.

A cartoon Wally holds up a sign reading 'Where's Wally? Spooky Museum Search' highlighted by a spotlight.

Where’s Wally? Spooky Museum Hunt is taking place in over 75 museums nationwide. Find the elusive Wally for a free bookmark and a chance to win prizes. London venues taking part include the Horniman Museum and the Cartoon Museum. 9 October – 1 November 2020, included with entry (mixture of FREE and paid), book ahead. Find more places taking part via this map.

Octagon 300 marks three centuries of the Baroque entertainment room at Orleans House with an eye-popping installation by Alice in Hackneyland. 13 October 2020 – 21 March 2021, FREE.

Be part of the art in a Vision themed Family Art Day at October Gallery. Play, drama and art making combine; for children aged 0-7 and their families. 17 October 2020, FREE, first come first served. Part of Bloomsbury Festival.

Hear tremendous tales, follow a historic trail and meet an important Lady from the past at Westminster Abbey Family Day. Explore what it took to create the building we know today and be inspired by people who are commemorated within its walls. 30 October 2020, paid (kids go free with special 1 adult 1 child ticket). More details via this page soon.

Openings and Re-openings

With the weather on the turn we all might need somewhere to escape, with or without kids. So I thought I’d bring you all London’s latest exhibitions and museum re-openings in one, easy to read list. There’s even a link next to each to make pre-booking easier.

NB: The ones with a little star* I recommend for families.

Welcome back to the following museums:

  • *London Museum of Water and Steam (Oct date tbc, paid)
    Read our review of London Museum of Water and steam here
  • Sir John Soane’s Museum (1 October 2020, FREE)
  • Wellcome Collection (7 October 2020, FREE)

Ai Weiwei's film will appear on a billboard in London's Picadilly Circus next month
Photo: Marcus Peel

Exhibitions opening this month:

  • Ai Weiwei c. 20:20 at Piccadilly Circus (1 – 31 October 2020, FREE)
  • Playing Democracy by Ling Tan at Barbican (1 October 2020 – 4 April 2021, FREE)
  • INSULAE (Of the Island) by Nye Thompson at Barbican (1 October 2020 – 4 April 2021, FREE)
  • Dub London: Bassline of a City at Museum of London (2 October 2020 – 31 January 2021, FREE)
  • Artemisia at National Gallery (3 October 2020 – 24 January 2021, paid)
  • Paradise Lost at Kew Gardens (3 October 2020 – 14 March 2021, paid)
  • Summer Exhibition at Royal Academy (6 October 2020 – 3 January 2021, paid)
  • Sin at National Gallery (7 October 2020 – 3 January 2021, FREE)
  • Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer at Barbican (7 October 2020 – 3 January 2021, paid)
  • Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020 at Natural History Museum (16 October 2020 – 6 June 2021, paid)
  • Young Artists Summer Show at Royal Academy (19 October – 22 November 2020, FREE)
  • Beazley Designs of the Year at Design Museum (21 October 2020 – 28 March 2021, paid)
  • Arctic: Culture and Climate at British Museum (22 October 2020 – 21 February 2021, paid)
  • Magaret Calvert: Woman at Work at Design Museum (21 October 2020 – 10 January 2021, paid)
  • Unfinished Business – The Fight for Women’s Rights at British Library (23 October 2020 – 21 February 2021, paid)
  • Covid Letters at Foundling Museum (24 October 2020 – 17 January 2021, paid)
  • Turner’s Modern World at Tate Britain (28 October 2020 – 7 March 2021, paid)

If you’ve found this post useful, please do share with your friends and followers.  And if you want to see what we get up to this month, I’ll be updating my stories and feed on Instagram regularly with our family days out.

How’s your October looking? What are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments below, or over on InstagramTwitter or Facebook. I love to hear what you get up to.



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