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Sydney Galleries and Museums Where You Can Get Your Culture Kicks After Work

Clock off and kick on to something more exciting than your commute. 
By Emma Joyce
February 25, 2021
By Emma Joyce
February 25, 2021


in partnership with

Clock off and kick on to something more exciting than your commute. 

Just because you're back in the office doesn't mean you have to go straight home after work. If you're spending more time in the city this year, why not combine your in-office days with a trip to one of the city's galleries and museums? Many of the cultural venues you'd usually visit on the weekends — like the Art Gallery of NSW, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Powerhouse Museum — are keeping their doors open till 8–9pm during the week. And in most cases, they're free to visit, too.

So, to make sure you're across which cultural venues are staying open late and when, we've created a handy guide to those venues with extended opening times or special events. And, as we know you like making the most of a midweek catch-up, we've dropped in a couple of suggestions for where to go for a cheeky nightcap or late-night feed while you're there.

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    Every Body Dance Now

    When was the last time you busted out some epic dance moves? With a pandemic and ongoing restrictions, it was probably in your living room to one of those Zoom parties, wasn’t it?

    Well, you can now legally dance with other people — outside and appropriately distanced — on the Sydney Opera House forecourt.

    Sydney Opera House is offering free weekly dance classes every Tuesday throughout March. You need to book tickets in advance for each session, which ranges from contemporary and street to jazz and Latin.

    There are two booking slots: 3.30pm and 6pm. Afterwards, take your dance partner for dinner at Hubert.

    Image: Daniel Boud

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    Art After Hours

    The Art Gallery of NSW has been keeping its doors open late on Wednesdays for years now. Its monthly Art After Hours program flexed with the times in 2020, by running online only, and now more Sydneysiders are returning to their workspaces, Art After Hours is slowly bringing back its regular program.

    On March 3, you can head to the Gallery after work to explore the current exhibitions Pat Larter and Margel Hinder, see a free film and grab a bite to eat in the cafe — all before the doors close at 9pm.

    In the past, the Gallery has hosted comedy shows, drag performances, insightful talks and specialist tours in its late-night program. Right now, under physical distancing and extra hygiene measures, the program is more DIY. You’re in charge of how you spend your time — whether you join a one-hour mystery tour with one of the Gallery’s guides at 7.15pm or book in to see one of the free film screenings as part of the Japanese Film Festival Classics program.

    You don’t need to register in advance to head to the Gallery after hours, but if you’re keen to see a film it’s best to snap up your ticket in advance.

    When you’re looking for a place to go after your art adventure, point your compass to Potts Point and take a seat at the bar at Jangling Jack’s.

    Image: Destination NSW

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    Culture Up Late at State Library of NSW

    When it comes to planning midweek catch-ups with your mates, popping into the oldest library in Australia is probably not top of your list. But we’re here to tell you it should be.

    Right now you can take advantage of its later opening hours on Wednesdays and Thursdays to check out current exhibitions like Coming Out in the 70s, which looks at the individual and community activism that’s paved the way for LGBTQIA+ pride as we know it.

    There’s also Eight Days in Kamay, which tells the stories of James Cook’s first arrival in Kamay (Botany Bay) from the perspectives of the Gweagal people. And upstairs you’ll find the tenth annual Photos1440 exhibition featuring striking images by Sydney Morning Herald photographers.

    As always, entry is free. But instead of racing in before closing time, you’ll have the freedom to browse its galleries till 8pm. Be speedy about it, as the extended hours are only offered until April 2021.

    For a nearby late-night feed, head down the road to Frankie’s.

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    Every Thursday till the end of March, the Museum of Sydney, Hyde Park Barracks and Justice and Police Museum stay open until 9pm — and they’re offering half-price entry, too.

    That means half-price entry to Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden at the Museum of Sydney, for example. Or, a chance to wander through the temporary exhibition Paradise on Earth (running till March 25) for just $7.50.

    At Hyde Park Barracks, its After Dark program includes a food truck, pop-up bar and DJ sets. And over at the Justice and Police Museum, you can can dive into Sydney’s criminal past through exhibitions, films and a Murder in the Museum talk — each with $7.50 entry.

    Making a date of it? Head into Bulletin Place for natty wines and bar snacks afterwards.

    Image: Brett Boardman

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    Nights at the Museum

    When was the last time you ducked into the Australian Museum? If your last visit was on a school trip, it’s time you checked out its new look. The freshly revamped Museum has offered free entry since reopening, but to truly make the most of the space, we suggest going to its weekly up-late program.

    Running every Thursday evening till the end of March, Nights at the Museum is free entry and you’ll run into not only birds, beetles and big bones but also DJs, dedicated tour guides and pop-up bars.

    Right now you can catch its blockbuster summer show Tyrannosaurs — Meet the Family (closes March 14), as well as the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year exhibition.

    Thirsty? Make tracks to Love, Tilly Devine after your visit.

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    Powerhouse Late

    It’s not yet the weekend, but you don’t feel like heading straight home. The solution? Ultimo’s Powerhouse Museum is offering up free late-night events every Thursday night until the end of March.

    From 5–9pm each week, Powerhouse Late includes access to the exhibitions, music performances and talks, depending on the week’s guest collaborators. Coming up is fashion duo Romance Was Born, which will see the Museum drenched in Australiana kitsch. Then music label Astral People will fill the exhibition spaces with electro-jazz on March 25.

    It’s not all indoor either; the Museum has a pop-up summer bar on the Harris Street entrance with a special Campari cocktail menu. Or, head over to Bancho in Haymarket for matcha negronis, whiskies and snacks.

    Image: Tim Da Rin

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    The Museum of Contemporary Art’s weekly after-hours program, aptly dubbed MCA Late, is one of the best ways to see out the week. From 5–9pm every Friday till the end of March, you can stroll through the gallery, see performances from artists, poets and musicians, and grab a drink at the rooftop cafe.

    The gallery has brought neighbouring bar Maybe Sammy on board too, so you know the drinks are top-shelf quality. And, if the booze doesn’t tempt you maybe the soundtrack will? MCA and FBi Radio’s Sounds on the Terrace has also moved to Fridays, so if you time it right you can also take in live tunes with a harbour view.

    Clocking off early? Head to Maybe Sammy beforehand for its $5.50 happy hour (4.30–5.30pm).

    Image: Anna Kucera


For more late-night antics in the CBD, visit or head to

Top image: MCA Late; Sam Whiteside


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