The cultural institutions that the Tatler editors are excited to return to this week

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  • Annabel Sampson, Deputy Digital and Features Editor – Sir John Soane’s Museum

    I can’t wait to return to this collector’s labyrinth. It’s a classical extravaganza – and certainly not to everyone’s tastes – but I adore it. Every time you visit, you discover something new between the narrow passages – whether it’s a Roman mosaic, a Canaletto (between the revolving screens) or one of the 30,000 architectural drawings. From the showy exterior, that makes a point of its presence at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, to the story of the three-day Sarcophagus party Soane put on to celebrate securing the Ancient Egyptian artefact, there is much to enjoy. It’s the British Museum on a more intimate – and personal – scale and they even do private views by candlelight (as it would have been enjoyed by Sir John Soane, himself, in the 18th century).

  • Leaf Arbuthnot, Acting Features Director – Peckham Plex

    After 18 deadening months of Netflix and Amazon Prime, I’m dying to return Peckham Plex. It’s the finest cinema in south London, partly because of its shockingly affordable ticket prices (a fiver per film) but mainly because of the energy of the crowd that goes. Some film buffs get irritated by noisy cinemas; for me a raucous audience enlivens a blockbuster rather than ruins it. (And even indie films can be enjoyed in a spirited environment, I think: it cuts through arthouse mystique and reveals the quality of the film itself). Peckham Plex is a stone’s throw from McDonald’s, too, so ideal for fine-dining post-film.

  • David Jenkins, Senior Editor – Museu Calouste Gulbenkian

    The place I’ve really, really yearned for is the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian… It’s got sensational and exquisitely chosen pictures – Rembrandt, Rubens, Monet, Manet, Degas, Turner – to match those in any great gallery. It has mummies and pharaonic bas-reliefs. It has ravishing tiles and ethereal carpets. Greco-Roman marvels, a stunning collection of Lalique and an air of tranquil beauty. And just 400 yards from it is a stylish, haut-bourgeois restaurant called the Versailles, where the coffee is a dream and the natas beyond reproach. Natas? Yes, for the Caloste Gulbenkian is in Lisbon and on the Green List… PCR permitting, I’ll be off there in a jiffy. There is, too, an excellent modern art museum as part of the whole Gulbenkian Foundation, but I prefer the old stuff, all collected by the Armenian-born Calouste, a man who made his fortune by taking five per cent of all the oil companies he developed, Shell included. (His son Nubar had a thing for commissioning Rolls Royce Taxis, of which he said, ‘I’m told it can turn on a sixpence, whatever that is.’) At one point Calouste was going to give his collection to London, but Lisbon’s where it is now… vaut le detour, I’d say.

  • Delilah Khomo, Travel Editor – The Wallace Collection

    Like The Frick in New York, The Wallace Collection always feels like you’ve pressed pause, stopped the clock and entered a pastel Ladurée filter of the world. Either I’m really lucky or it’s a fluke, but I always have the most calming museum experience here – you never have to crane your neck to see Fragonard’s Swing, or any of his other 10 Rococo masterpieces. Then there is François Lemoyne’s Perseus and Andromeda, The Lady with a Fan by Velàzquez, Canalettos, the Sèvres porcelain – no minimalist nonsense here, just exceptional opulence. There’s just so much beauty, I cannot wait to gaze at Watteau’s pastoral scenes, which are a balm to the mind and never fail to make me smile. Also the café is enchanting, sadly it’s not outside, but it feels more low-key and special than Chiltern Firehouse nearby.

  • Francesca Carington, Commissioning Editor

    The National Gallery is quite simply my favourite place in London. As a child, I used to go with my mother, who’d teach me to identify the Rubenses by their squidgy bottoms; as a teenager, I’d slope around its light-filled galleries giggling at freaky babies; as a student, I swooned in front of the Caravaggios. I can’t wait to check in on my old favourites – my first port of call has always been Botticelli’s languorously sexy Venus and Mars, followed by a good long stare at the busy, mathematical opulence of Crivelli’s Annunciation, and a squinting stop by The Ambassadors. But the magic of the National Gallery lies in those idle wanders that have you drawn to something new every time – the beady eyes of a Lorenzo Lotto, the strong arms of an Artemisia Gentileschi, the gauzy nonchalance of a Gainsborough. Also, the gift shop is fantastic.

  • Hope Coke, Social Media Editor – The Saatchi Gallery

    I know nothing about modern art, but I’ve always loved whiling away an afternoon at the Saatchi. It was one of my favourite places to go as a teenager (many of the exhibitions are free, which is always a draw), where I’d put on my best contemplative face and think how sophisticated I must look. I’d often turn up without having any idea what exhibitions were running and soon found it was a great place to discover new artists (or new to me, at least). Plus it draws an eclectic crowd – from glossy Chelsea socialites to scruffy schoolchildren – which makes it a great place for people watching. London Grads Now was the first exhibition I went to between the lockdowns last year. After months away from galleries, it felt all the more special to see such varied, exciting pieces by talented young students. And I’ll be rushing back this week to see the intriguingly named Antisocial Isolation, a Delphian Gallery show running at the Saatchi, which shines a light on the work of emerging artists.

    Pictured: Works by Jukka Virkkunen, Benjamin Murphy, Sam Harris, Valerie Savchits, Florence Hutchings, Nick JS Thompson and Kadiya Qasem.

  • Eliz Akdeniz, Editorial Assistant – Alexandra Palace

    I long for the return of live music! Pre-pandemic, I’d go to at least one gig per month, but this past year has left me with a very dreary pile of expired tickets. While it’s almost impossible to single out one venue, I’m most looking forward to dancing amongst crowds of strangers at Alexandra Palace – ally pally, to us North-Londoners. Gigs here are like no other and always promise a good time, fuelled with a festival feeling – with much better loos! I’ll be eagerly waiting for my 2020 tickets to be rescheduled from the comfort of their terrace, beer in hand, ready to be first in line.

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