Last Updated May 29, 2018

Somerset House

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Somerset House is one of the top ten most popular visitor attractions in the UK. It is a major arts and culture centre in the heart of London. Somerset House programmes contemporary art and design exhibitions, free displays, family workshops and guided tours.

Somerset House has been home to some of the UK’s most popular photography exhibitions and is currently the venue used by the annual Photo London photography fair.

From one-person start-ups to successful creative businesses, Somerset House is home to possibly the largest creative community in London. Our residents include 100 organisations from the arts and creative industries: Courtauld Gallery and Institute, King’s College London Cultural Institute, British Fashion Council, Clore Leadership Programme, Dance Umbrella, Fuel Theatre, Improbable, Music for Youth, MOBO, National Youth Orchestra, Sorrell Foundation, plus others ranging from advertising, branding, PR agencies and film production, to social enterprise and business support organisations. The Somerset House Exchange provides co-working space for 120 small businesses and start-ups. Within Somerset House Studios, our community of artists, makers and thinkers, there is Makerversity, a pioneering collection of emerging maker businesses which we have supported since its launch.

From its 18th-century origins, Somerset House has been a centre for debate and discussion including the first home of the Royal Academy of Arts and other learned societies – an intellectual powerhouse for the nation. For over 200 years the building housed various government departments including births, marriages and deaths and the Inland Revenue until Somerset House Trust was established in July 1997 to conserve and develop Somerset House as an arts centre. After a campaign to open Somerset House to the public, we once again became a home for arts and culture in 2000.

Somerset House is a private site operated by Somerset House Trust, a charity which receives no public funding. We need to generate all our income through private sources in order to maintain this heritage site for the public to enjoy, to deliver our wide-ranging cultural programme and to create learning and engagement opportunities for people of all ages.

If strictly for personal use only (ie. not sold or shared for profit or promotion), you may film and photograph all public spaces of Somerset House. Tripods and monopods are not permitted. In filming and taking photographs, please be considerate of our other visitors. If you are obstructing any right of way or in any way impeding other visitors’ enjoyment of the site, we may ask you to stop.

We strive wherever possible to permit personal filming and photography inside our events and exhibitions, though it may vary according to our agreements with external loan providers. Please check in advance or speak to one of the team inside the event or exhibition and they will be able to advise you.

Please be aware that if you appear to be taking photographs on site for anything other than personal purposes, one of our Front of House or security staff may approach and speak to you to ascertain your intentions. If it transpires you are filming or taking photographs for commercial or editorial purposes without written permission, we reserve the right to ask you to stop and we will inform you of the appropriate channels of communication.

Somerset House is open every day except 25 December.

Monday, Tuesday, Saturday & Sundays 10.00-18.00 (last admission 17.00)*
Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays 11.00-20.00 (last admission 19.00)*
Check individual exhibition information for exceptions.

10.00-18.00 daily (last admission 17.30)

We run free guided tours three days a week.

Somerset House has four entrances. You can reach all of our galleries, ...

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