Festival of Culture


Explore Bloomsbury

Check out our places to visit whilst you're at the Festival, including cafés, museums and other places of interest on or close to UCL's Bloomsbury Campus.

1. Petrie Museum

1pm - 5pm, Tuesday - Saturday | Location: Malet Place, Bloomsbury Campus

Founded in 1892, the Petrie Museum houses an estimated 80,000 objects, making it one of the greatest collections of Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology in the world. It illustrates life in the Nile Valley from prehistory through the time of the pharaohs, the Ptolemaic, Roman and Coptic periods to the Islamic period. The current exhibition is Sounds of Roman Egypt, which explores the objects people used to make music, what they sounded like, and how instruments were used in Romano-Egyptian rituals, homes, and childhood.

Join a free public tour at 14:00-14:45 on Wednesday 5 June - book your place.

Visit the Petrie Museum

2. The Octagon Gallery 

9am - 7pm daily | Location: Wilkins Building

The Octagon Gallery on the ground floor of the Wilkins Building, directly under the dome, provides a prominent space for changing exhibitions. The work on display highlights UCL's current research and acts as a window into rich and varied collections held at the university. The current exhibition is Moving Objects: Stories of Displacement, which is dedicated to discovering the stories of people, animals and objects in exile, as told by refugees and researchers in London and the Middle East. This free exhibition draws together poems, photographs and archival materials selected by people with experience of being displaced from their homes. Working closely with UCL researchers, people in London, Lebanon and Jordan chose objects that challenge public perceptions of what it means to be a refugee.

Visit the Octagon Gallery

3. Slade Degree Shows

BA/BFA students: 10am - 5pm, Saturday 18 - Sunday 19 May / 10am - 8 pm, Monday 20 - Thursday 23 May

MA/MFA/PhD students: Thursday 6 June - Sunday 16 June

The Slade School of Fine Art was founded in 1871 and has been at the forefront of developments in the field of contemporary art. Slade alumni go on to achieve a high level of international recognition and success and account for many leading figures in the international art world, including a large number of Turner Prize winners and nominees. The annual Slade Degree Shows, showcasing artworks by graduating students from the UCL Slade School of Fine Art, will take place across May and June at the Slade School of Fine Art.

Visit Slade Degree Shows

4. UCL Special Collections

10am - 4pm, Monday - Friday | Location: South Junction Reading Room, Wilkins Building 

UCL Library Special Collections is one of the foremost university collections of manuscripts, archives and rare books in the UK. It includes fine collections of medieval manuscripts and early printed books, significant holdings of 18th century works, and highly important 19th and 20th century collections of personal papers, archival material, and literature.

UCL Special Collections has recently launched an exciting later programme of evening talks for 2019. They will be hosting sociable, relaxed after-work events, perfect for anyone who is interested to come to UCL to learn about the wonderful rare books, archives and manuscripts that we hold here. Each evening will present a particular topic or theme; talks and collection displays with wine, soft drinks and nibbles for all. What more could anyone want?!

Visit the UCL Special Collections website to find out more.

UCL Special Collections will be running an event with the Festival of Culture, and will be open from 12-7pm on Wednesday 5 June. Book your place.

Visit the UCL Special Collections

5. Grant Museum

1 - 5pm, Monday - Saturday | Location: Rockerfeller Building, UCL

The Grant Museum of Zoology is the only remaining university zoological museum in London. It houses around 68,000 specimens, covering the whole Animal Kingdom. Founded in 1828 as a teaching collection, the Grant is packed full of skeletons, mounted animals and specimens preserved in fluid. Many of the species are now endangered or extinct including the Tasmanian Tiger or Thylacine, the Quagga, and the Dodo.

Skullpture is an exhibition of experimental new artworks by students from the UCL Slade School of Fine Art, created in response to the museum's weird and wonderful animal specimens. Sculpture students have been invited to place works among the museum’s own objects, take over entire cabinets or use other voids and spaces in the building. These new works sit alongside historic skeletons, skulls and specimens preserved in jars to transform the historic zoological museum. 

Join a free public tour at 14:00-14:45 on Friday 7 June - book your place.

Visit the Grant Museum

6. The Leventis Gallery

9am - 5pm, Monday - Friday | Location: UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31 - 34 Gordon Square

The A.G. Leventis Gallery of Cypriot and Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology showcases the rich collections of the Institute of Archaeology. Objects from ancient Cyprus, Greece, Crete, Egypt and the Levant highlight the cultural diversity of this region over five thousand years and bring peoples of the past to life. These are accompanied by temporary themed displays that highlight the Institute's varied collections.

7. Tavistock Square

Unlike other parts of Bloomsbury, the land that became Tavistock Square was still open fields at the end of the eighteenth century. Indeed, this area was well-known as a marsh, a place to hunt ducks and to fight illegal duels. The square's literary connections began in 1851, when Charles Dickens moved into the north-eastern corner of the square. Here he wrote Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Hard Times and A Tale of Two Cities. In 1924 Virginia and Leonard Woolf took a house at number 52. From the basement of their house they ran the Hogarth Press, publishing Virginia's novels and some of the first English translations of Sigmund Freud's works. The centrepiece of the garden is a statue to Mahatma Gandhi which was installed in 1968. There are also busts of Virginia Woolf and Dame Louisa Aldrich-Blake as well as a cherry tree planted in 1967 in memory of the victims of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. 

8. Art Museum

1pm - 5pm, Tuesday - Friday | Location: South Cloisters, Wilkins Building

UCL Art Museum's collections contain over 10,000 objects, including paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture dating from 1490 to the present day. Works on paper are housed in a traditional Print Room setting in the museum, and paintings and sculpture are displayed in public rooms around the campus. The collection was founded in 1847 with a gift of the sculpture models and drawings of the Neo-classical artist John Flaxman. Recent collaborative exhibitions have focused on mapping the presence of black artists and models in Bloomsbury during the interwar period, the relation between word and image inspired by Albrecht Dürer's Apocalypse series, explorations of London's urban landscapes over time, and fame and celebrity interrogated through representations of Jean Jacques Rousseau.

Kicking off UCL's Year of Sculpture 2019, UCL Art Museum is celebrating British Artist and former Slade professor Edward Allington with the exhibition Edward Allington: In pursuit of Sculpture. A selection of the acclaimed sculptor’s smaller works cohabiting with the university's historical collections in a traditional Print Room setting.

Join a free public tour at 14:00-14:45 on Thursday 6 June - book your place.

Visit the UCL Art Museum

Museums around Bloomsbury

Bloomsbury is full of interesting museums to visit while you're at the Festival of Culture. These are five of the best:

1. The Foundling Museum

10am - 5pm, Tuesday - Saturday; 11am - 5pm, Sunday | Location: 40 Brunswick Square

The Foundling Museum explores the history of the Foundling Hospital, the UK's first children's charity and first public art gallery. The museum aims to inspire everyone to make a positive contribution to society, by celebrating the power of individuals and the arts to change lives.

Visit the Foundling Museum

2. The Charles Dickens Museum

10am - 5pm, Tuesday - Sunday | Location: 48 Doughty Street

Based in Charles Dickens' only surviving London residence, where he wrote Oliver Twist, Pitwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby, the Charles Dickens Museum holds one of the world's largest Dickens collections, with treasures including Dickens's desk, handwritten drafts from the novels he wrote here, and his young wife's engagement ring. A must for any Dickens fan.

Visit the Charles Dickens Museum

3. The British Museum

10am - 5.30pm daily (Fridays until 8.30pm) | Location: Great Russel Street, Bloomsbury

Founded in 1753, the British Museum's remarkable collection spans over two million years of human history. Enjoy a unique comparison of the treasures of world cultures under one roof, centred around the magnificent Great Court.

World-famous objects such as the Rosetta Stone, Parthenon sculptures, and Egyptian mummies are visited by up to six million visitors per year. In addition to the vast permanent collection, the museum's current special exhibition, Edvard Munch love and angst, is highly recommended.

Visit the British Museum

4. The British Library

9:30am - 5pm daily (some days may differ) | Location: 96 Euston Road

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's largest libraries. Its collections include more than 150 million items, in over 400 languages including books, magazines, manuscripts, maps, music scores, newspapers, patents, databases, philatelic items, prints and drawings and sound recordings. It's permanent exhibition, Treasures of the British Library, is free and open to the public; the library also hosts several temporary exhibitions.

Visit the British Library

5. Wellcome Collection

10am - 6pm, Tuesday - Sunday (open till 8pm on Thursday) | Location: 183 Euston Road

Wellcome Collection is a free museum and library exploring health, life and our place in the world. Through exhibitions, collections, live programming, digital, broadcast and publishing, Wellcome Collection creates opportunities for people to think deeply about the connections between science, medicine, life and art. Wellcome Collection makes thought provoking content that encourages everyone to reflect on what it means to be human.

Visit Wellcome Collection

Where to eat

There are many places to eat when you visit the Festival, both at UCL around Bloomsbury. Here are some recommendations:

1. The Print Room Café

8am - 9pm, Monday - Friday | Location: UCL South Quad

You can wind down here after visiting the Festival with a freshly made smoothie, a glass of wine or a cold beer. The Print Room Café boasts live performances throughout the week, as well as a delicious selection of food at a fraction of the price of high street cafes. Its courtyard is great for relaxing outside in the summer.

Visit the Print Room Cafe

2. Bloomsbury Farmers' Market

9am - 2pm, Thursday | Location: Torrington Square/Byng Place

If you're here on Thursday, the weekly farmers' market is a great place to get a bite to eat in vibrant Torrington Square. There's a variety of fresh produce and hot lunch options available from a wide range of local producers: hog roast rolls, paella, curries and burgers. There's also a tempting variety of cakes, doughnuts, and ice cream to take away.

Visit the Farmers' Market

3. Quaker Centre Café and Friends House Resturant

8am - 6pm, Monday - Thursday; 8am-6pm, Friday | Location: Friends House, 173 - 177 Euston Road

The Quaker Centre Café and Friends House Restaurant are located within Friends House, across the road from UCL, and offer a large variety of hot and cold dishes, sandwiches, quiches, cakes, snacks and drinks. Both places serve locally sourced, organic and Fairtrade food, ensuring you get a healthy, responsible and affordable meal.

Visit Friends House

4. Fork

7:30am - 7pm, daily (opening hours may vary on weekends) | Location: 85 Marchmont Street

Fork Deli is a bustling independent cafe in Bloomsbury. They open early, serving artisan coffee and a delicious breakfast selection, and their lunch menu offers a choice of salads, sandwiches, quiches and fresh soups, all available to eat in or take away. Throughout the day they bake fresh cakes and patisserie in their kitchen beneath the cafe.

Visit Fork

5. Moreish

7.30am - 6pm, daily (opening hours may vary on weekends) | Location: 76 Marchmont Street

A deli offering hearty, Spanish-influenced lunch and tapas, coffee, cakes and gelato, with an excellent range of vegan and gluten-free options. The cakes and gelato are made on-site, and are especially recommended.

Visit Moreish

6. Bloomsbury Coffee House

8am - 6pm, daily (open until 2.30pm on weekends) | Location: 20 Tavistock Place

Situated underneath the St. Athan's hotel, the Bloomsbury Coffee House boasts an extensive brunch menu (served until 11.30am on weekdays) and a great selection of cakes and pastries, as well as excellent coffee. 

Visit the Bloomsbury Coffee House

7. Store Street Espresso

7.30am - 7pm, weekdays (open 9am-6pm Sat and 10am-7pm Sun)) | Location: 40 Store Street

Just a short walk from UCL, Store Street Espresso serves an excellent selection of sandwiches and pastries, as well as consistently delicious coffee, fast becoming one of the best independent coffee shops in central London.

Visit Store Street Espresso