Friday, April 24, 2009

Small things can really annoy one

I claim to be the leading expert on late openings of art galleries and museums in London. Give me a day of the week and I can tell you exactly which galleries are open and, of course, how to get there, also what the disadvantages might be.

Annoyingly enough, nothing is open late on Sunday, the evening you really want to go to an art gallery. At one point the Royal Academy experimented with that but, clearly, it did not work out or, more likely, it was not advertised adequately and the administrators decided that it was not working out.

Nowadays the RA is open on Fridays and Saturdays till 10 o'clock and it buzzes on both evenings.

Nothing is open late on Mondays and only the British Library galleries are open till 8 o'clock on Tuesdays. Well, it's better than nothing.

The highlight of one's week was Wednesday when the National Gallery, the first to experiment with late openings, stayed open till 9 o'clock. It was a wonderful way of celebrating mid-week. No longer. In their wisdom, the directorate of the NG has decided to move its late opening to Friday and the now open Picasso exhibition also stays open till 8 on Saturdays. As a matter of fact, it does not seem to be a complete sell-out as one can wander up to the ticket desk at any time and but tickets for immediate entry.

I seem to recall other exhibitions when one had to queue in the morning in order to go in the evening. In particular I recall doing that for the Vermeer on September 11, 2001. Every minute of that day is etched in my memory as, I expect, it is in everybody else's.

Back to the National Gallery's decision. What is the point of that? There are already plenty of other museums and galleries open late on Fridays. There is the RA, the National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert, Tate Modern (great building, depressing collection) and once a month Tate Britain that I still call the Tate. And nothing is open late on Wednesdays.

Things like this can make you really mad. On the assumption that the Director of the National Gallery does not read this blog, I think I shall write a letter of complaint and that is not something I do very often.

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