London Exhibitions Guide 2022
Rumour has it you’re keen to get out of the house.
Well, fortunately – given that you happen to live in the cultural capital of the world – you currently have many excellent excuses to do just that, chief amongst them being a ton of excellent museum exhibitions showcasing rarely seen paintings by Edvard Munch; a 4000 year old cosmic map and 128 carat diamonds.
Not all in the same place, obviously.
Of course, you can also see the permanent collections at most of these museums for free – take a look at our guide to the best museums in London, or for something a little different, the most unusual museums in London.
Tiffany & Co’s Vision & Virtuosity | Saatchi Gallery
Tiffany & Co. are throwing a massive 150th birthday party, swapping out the cake for….carats.
But then, what else from one of the world’s oldest and most iconic jewellery brands, known for its pioneering creativity and craftsmanship, sure, but also for sourcing some seriously mahoosive diamonds? It’s now 150 years since they first arrived in London, and they’ve taken over none other than Chelsea’s stunning Saatchi Gallery to celebrate, with some stunning gems on display…
Details: Tiffany & Co’s Vision & Virtuosity runs at the Saatchi Gallery until 19th August. Tickets are free, but you can book an entry slot here.
LAST CHANCE TO SEE:
Postwar Modern: New Art in Britain 1945 – 1965 | Barbican Centre
WW2 changed a lot of things. But the Barbican’s new exhibition is focusing specifically on the artistic side of things, and how artists tried to make sense of the new world they found themselves in. It’s absolutely huge, bringing together around 200 works from almost 50 painters, sculptors and photographers, including Lynn Chadwick, Lucian Freud, Gillian Ayres and Frank Auerbach.
Details: Postwar Modern runs at the Barbican until 26th June. Tickets cost £18, which you can book here.
The World of Stonehenge | British Museum
Today, we have the James Webb Space Telescope. Four thousand years ago, they had The Nebra Sky Disc – a simple piece of bronze that is the world’s oldest surviving map of the stars. It’s just one of the many fascinating objects on display at the British Museum’s exhibition of Stonehenge, which delves into its “purpose, cultural power and the people that created it”. They’re even displaying Seahenge, a remarkably preserved 4,000-year-old timber circle made around the same time.
Details: The World of Stonehenge runs at the British Museum until 17th July. Tickets cost £20, and you can book here.
Raphael | National Gallery
Everyone is just loving this Renaissance dude right now. Raphael was really the definition of a Renaissance man – besides being an architect, plumber, poet and archeologist, he made one of the most significant contributions to Western Art in a career of just two decades. This sprawling retrospective has gathered 5* reviews by the bucketload – don’t miss it.
Details: Raphael runs at the National Gallery until 31st July. Tickets cost £24, and you can book HERE.
Future Shock | 180 Studios
Turns out, the future’s not orange.
It’s really more of a hot pink.
That’s according to 180 Studios, at least, which has just unveiled a sprawling exhibition of audio-visual art inspired by our ‘near future’, featuring infinite reflections, 3D laser projections, and a ‘labyrinth of the subconscious’…
Details: Future Shock runs at 180 Studios until 28th August. Tickets cost £20, and you can book HERE.
Our Broken Planet: How We Got Here and Ways to Fix It | Natural History Museum
This free display showcases the myriad ways humans have managed to trash the planet, from mowing down down rainforests to feed our sugar addiction, to mining lithium for our phone batteries. Be prepared to walk out feeling like everything you’re wearing, eating and carrying is somehow damaging the environment. But it’s not all doom and gloom – you’ll also see loads of inspirational examples of how scientists around the world are working together to fix our mistakes.
Details: Our Broken Planet runs at the Natural History Museum (closest tube station South Kensington) until summer 2022. It’s free to visit, but you’ll need to book a timed entry ticket here.
Football: Designing the Beautiful Game | Design Museum
Replacing the Amy Winehouse blockbuster exhibition, the Design Museum‘s new show is dedicated to the design behind football kits, boots, stadia, posters and more, with a staggering 500+ objects on display – including items worn by Maradona, Messi, and others.
Details: Football: Designing the Beautiful Game runs at the Design Museum until 29th August. Tickets start at £16.80, and you can book HERE.
Surrealism Beyond Borders | Tate Modern
Sure, everyone loves a bit of Dali, Magritte, and MC Escher. But you know what would be truly surreal? If it was only the Europeans exploring this mind-bending realm of art. Which of course, they weren’t. So the Tate Modern is showing us all of the giraffe-melting art happening in places like Japan, Argentina, Egypt and Mexico as well…
Details: Surrealism Beyond Borders runs at Tate Modern until 29th August. Tickets cost £18, and you can book HERE.
150 Years of the Royal School of Needlework | Fashion & Textile Museum
In 1872, there were concerns that needlework might become a lost art. 150 years later, it’s still going strong thanks to the establishment of the Royal School of Needlework. This exhibition traces its surprisingly interesting social history alongside dozens of stunning examples of their work, from stunning appliqué tapestries to embroidered sushi.
Details: 150 Years of the Royal School of Needlework runs at The Fashion & Textile Museum until 4th September. Tickets cost £12.65, and you can book HERE.
Edvard Munch: Masterpieces from Bergen | Courtauld Gallery
The influential Edvard Munch has inspired a great many artists, most notably Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. But this exhibition at the Courtauld brings together nearly 20 of his paintings that have never been shown here before, as they were snapped up by an avid contemporary collector who lived in Bergen, Norway. The critically acclaimed exhibition is awash with anguish, in ways that are strikingly different to The Scream – it’s one not to miss.
Details: Edvard Munch: Masterpieces from Bergen runs at the Courtauld Gallery until 4th September. Tickets cost £18, and you can book HERE.
Walter Sickert | Tate Britain
Walter Sickert is seen as one of the nation’s most influential artists. A close associate of Degas, his spellbinding paintings of music hall performers are the British answer to all those ballerinas. His early career in the theatre and a fascination with the rise of celebrity culture throughout the 20th century give his paintings of everyday scenes a dramatic quality, and this major retrospective at Tate Britain – the first in over six decades – shows off some of his finest.
Details: Walter Sickert runs at Tate Britain until 18th September. Tickets cost £18, and you can book HERE.
Our Future Planet | Science Museum
Many of the world’s scientists aren’t thinking about slowing, or even stopping climate change – they’re thinking about reversing it. This exhibition is an exploration of the science of Carbon Capture and how agriculture, technology, and plain old trees can help. You’ll see everything from ‘air vodka’ made from sequestered carbon, to CO2-sucking mechanical trees…
Details: Our Future Planet is on at the Science Museum until September. It’s completely free, but you must pre-book your entry to the museum itself, which you can do here.
Rana Begum: Dappled Light | Pitzhanger Manor
Rana Begum’s built a rep as making some of the most colourful, playful installations in the contemporary art world, and now she’s brought her latest pieces to Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing. Floating clouds of pastel-coloured netting and shimmering sculptures have been designed to interact with the building’s stately interiors, and there are installations spilling out of the gallery and into other unusual spaces, too…
Details: Dappled Light runs at Pitzhanger Manor until September. Tickets cost £7.70, and can be booked here.
Weird Sensation Feels Good | Design Museum
It may help to imagine reading the following in a very breathy, intimate voice punctuated by chewing gum: The Design Museum is about to host an exhibition all about ASMR, with acoustic installations set up in a huge, comforting space. There’ll be contributions by classic ASMR creators like HairCut Harry, as well as big names like Björk, Bob Ross, and, er – Ikea.
Details: Weird Sensation Feels Good runs at the Design Museum until 16th October. Tickets cost £10.50-12, and you can book HERE.
Cornelia Parker | Tate Britain
You’ve probably seen Cornelia Parker’s work somewhere. She’s the installation artist who delights in squashing, smashing, or bursting things, and suspending them in mid-air. And this major show includes some of her biggest hitters, including exploding sheds; the flattened tubas of a 60-piece brass band and a doll sliced in two by the same guillotine that executed Marie Antoinette.
Details: Cornelia Parker is on show at Tate Britain until 16th October. Tickets cost £16, and you can book HERE.
Inspiring Walt Disney | The Wallace Collection
This inventive exhibition has quite an unusual slant to it: it’s concerned with the inspiration Disney’s studios have found in French decorative arts from the 18th century. Flush with a spring-like palette of lilacs, pinks, sage greens and baby blues, it displays rococo clocks with costume sketches for Cogsworth; home movies of Walt and his brother exploring Versailles in 1935; meticulous sketches of Cinderella’s ballgown transformation in a cloud of individual, hand-drawn twinkles of magic. And The Wallace Collection’s gilded rooms are the perfect setting for it.
Details: Inspiring Walt Disney runs at The Wallace Collection until 16th October. Tickets start at £14, and you can book HERE.
Fashioning Masculinities | V&A
Jean-Baptiste Belley – Omar Victor Diop (2014)
If you’re interested in the relationship between fashion and gender, the V&A’s new exhibition’ll suit you. Through three gallery spaces, it’ll look at men’s fashion through the centuries and how it’s both constructed and subverted ideas of masculinity, bringing together outfits worn by figures like David Bowie; clothing designed by Gucci; film; photography; and historic treasures from the rest of the V&A’s collection.
Details: Fashioning Masculinities runs at the V&A Museum until 6th November 2022. Tickets cost £20, and you can book here.
Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature | V&A
Beatrix Potter was a skilled mycologist, a scientific illustrator, an ardent conservationist, and the reason that there’s a cocky CGI bunny voiced by James Corden on the side of every London bus. And you’ll find some of her wonderful work on display at the V&A’s latest retrospective…
Details: Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature runs at the V&A until 8th January 2023. Tickets cost £14, which you can book here.
Taking Care of Business | The Migration Museum
The Migration Museum’s latest exhibition shines a light on how migrant entrepreneurs have shaped the UK and created iconic brands and products, from Soreen fruit loaf to Morley’s chicken. They’ve recreated an entire high street inside, where you can hear the personal stories behind the household names. Don’t forget to exit through the gift shop – it takes the form of a pop-up marketplace for local businesses with migrant roots.
Details: Taking Care of Business runs at The Migration Museum in Lewisham for the near future. Admission is free; just turn up.
Pip & Pop | Kew Gardens
To say Pip & Pop – a.k.a. award-winning Aussie artist Tanya Schultz – likes colour is an understatement. For the next ten months, she’s filling an exhibition space at Kew Gardens with her mind-meltingly psychedelic ‘fantasy food landscapes’, filled with rainbow hues, pompoms and glitter…
Details: Pip & Pop’s display is part of Food Forever at Kew Gardens, open until 5th March 2023. Entry is included with admission to Kew (£15), and you can book here.
Like culture? Like being indoors? Check out our guide to the best films showing now.