London’s historic Somerset House will reopen part of its arts centre to visitors

By Polly Jean Harrison | 08 Jul 2020 | Culture

The venue's courtyard and cafe will welcome visitors from 16 July

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Somerset House, London’s working arts centre, is reopening part of its site to visitors on Thursday 16 July after a period of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. The areas that will be open include the Courtyard’s outdoor seating, with social distancing in place, offering a “spacious yet intimate setting away from the hustle and bustle”, as well as the onsite café, which will be offering a takeaway service. 

“We’re so excited to finally be re-opening part of the site and welcome back visitors, as well as our resident artists, makers and designers,” said Jonathan Reekie, Director of Somerset House Trust. “As London’s working arts centre and home to the UK’s largest creative community in the heart of London, we’re keen to re-energise the building with people, after a three-month closure.”

Somerset House’s critically acclaimed exhibition Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi will also be opening from a specially extended run through the summer. 

Curated by Francesca Gavin, the exhibition delves into the “fascinating fungi kingdom” where visitors will explore the cultural legacy of the organism through art, architecture, fashion and even music, discovering its “powerful potential to transform society’s relationship with the planet.” 

Residing in a beautiful neo-classical building, the centre would usually welcome three million visitors annually to its events and exhibitions, with many free to the public.

For those unable to visit, Somerset House’s online offerings have been available since April, with its cultural programme – entitled “I Should Be Doing Something Else Right Now” – continuing throughout the summer and featuring interactive commissions, live streams and visits to the archive.