EXHIBITIONS

Don’t miss out on the best exhibitions in London. From the latest blockbuster art shows to up-and-coming artists to free exhibitions in London, you’ll find them all right here.

Highlights

There are so many great museums and galleries in London which means there are some incredible shows to see, from interactive exhibitions to art installations to photography exhibitions on in the city right now. And if you like to just drop into something last minute, there are a whole host of free exhibitions in London too. Current exhibitions include a major show from performance artist Marina Abramovic; the largest collection of privately owned Banksy works in the world; Frieze Sculpture, which is back in Regent’s Park to coincide with the return of the Frieze London art fair; and the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, which is back in the autumn once again.

Alice in Wonderland has captured people’s imaginations ever since the tale was first published 157 years ago, and this major art exhibition at the V&A explores the origins and adaptations of Alice over the years. The Design Museum is diving into the world of sneakers with their major exhibition Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street. You’ll be able to see how kicks evolved from specific athletic activities to cultural symbols and check out some of biggest collabs and high-fashion takes on trainers.

If you’re a fan of an interactive exhibition, there’s not one but two based on the life and work of Vincent Van Gogh open in London right now, and Yayoi Kusama is back at the Tate Modern with another one of her immersive exhibitions featuring an Infinity Room. Whether you’re looking for exhibitions today, exhibitions this weekend or you want to stay on top of all upcoming art exhibitions, we’ve got you covered.

LUX | NEW WAVE OF CONTEMPORARY ART

13th October - 18th December 2021
180 Strand, Temple, London WC2R 1EA, UK

The latest exhibition at 180 Studios features 13 gargantuan installations that have transformed the physical space using complicated algorithms and data to create 3D sculptures (it’s all a bit over our head but it certainly looks impressive). It brings together 12 of the world’s most celebrated media artists and collectives including Londoner Es Devlin, as well as artists a’strict; Refik Anadol; Je Baak; Cecilia Bengolea; Cao Yuxi; iart; Julianknxx; Carsten Nicolai; Random International; Hito Steyerl and Universal Everything. This is cutting edge digital technology and defo ‘gram worthy.

CONSERVATORY X AKARI CLOUD

Until 9th January 2022
Free
Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS, UK

To coincide with the Noguchi exhibition in the Art Gallery, a cloud of Akari light sculptures from the Japanese-American artist have been installed in the Barbican’s Conservatory. The washi paper and bamboo ribbing pieces have been suspended from the ceiling, hanging over the Koi carp ponds and rising up to the balconies, with the installation combining art and nature in one space. The Conservatory is only open on select days, with time slots released a week in advance, so you’ll need to keep checking back for this one.

THE JAPAN FESTIVAL AT KEW GARDENS

2nd - 31st October 2021
Richmond TW9, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Friday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Saturday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Sunday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Kew Gardens is celebrating the art, plants and culture of Japan this autumn with The Japan Festival. Kew’s Temperate House will be home to a large-scale thread installation featuring 5000 haikus from Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota and an immersive soundscape from artist Yosi Horikawa. Of course there’ll be horticultural displays, including a contemporary Japanese garden and a celebration of chrysanthemums, the national flower of Japan.

THE FRENCH DISPATCH EXHIBITION

14th October - 14th November 2021
180 Strand, Temple, London WC2R 1EA, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Friday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Saturday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Sunday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Not only is Accidentally Wes Anderson celebrating the release of the main man’s new movie The French Dispatch with a pop-up, 180 The Strand is getting in on the action too with a special exhibition (you may remember they did something similar for Isle of Dogs back in 2018). The show will feature original sets, props, costumes and artworks, with ticketholders receiving a copy of the limited edition The French Dispatch mag, and you’ll be able to visit the Le Sans Blague Cafe, as featured in the film, for some French snacks. Ooh la la.

WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR

15th October 2021 - 5th June 2022
Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, UK

The 57th Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is being hosted at the Natural History Museum. The display features awarded images selected from over 50,000 entries and it showcases the beauty and diversity of the natural world, with everything from parakeet chicks to deep sea shrimps to Iberian lynxes depicted in the photographs.

AMAZÔNIA

13th October 2021 - March 2022
Exhibition Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 2DD, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday: Closed
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Friday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Saturday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Sunday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Sebastião Salgado’s exhibition Amazônia, a series of more than 200 black-and-white photographs of twelve different indigenous communities in the Brazilian Amazon and the landscapes in which they live taken over six years, is being displayed at the Science Museum accompanied by a soundtrack from Jean-Michel Jarre. The photos offer an insight into the rainforest as it approaches a crucial point in the fight against climate change.

BEANO | THE ART OF BREAKING THE RULES

21st October 2021 – 6th March 2022
Strand, London WC2R 1LA, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Friday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Saturday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Sunday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules is a celebration of the world’s longest-running weekly comic (and also coincides with the 70th birthday of Beano icon Dennis) and explores the impact of Beano’s spirit of mischief and rebellion on alternative pop culture. Curated by artist and lifelong Beano fan Andy Holden, the exhibition will feature original drawings and rare archive artefacts alongside contemporary works and new commissions from the likes of Bedwyr Williams, Hardeep Pandhal, Heather Phillipson, Holly Hendry, Lindsey Mendick, Sarah Lucas, Simeon Barclay and Martin Rowson. There’ll also be a Beanotown Museum showcasing how the creators came up with the original characters, recreations of places like Bash Street School and Bunkerton Castle, and an interactive workshop space where you can unleash your own creative spirit

MICHELANGELO'S SISTINE CHAPEL | THE EXHIBITION

15th October 2021 - 2nd January 2022

You’ll be able to marvel at Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel as if you were there in Rome looking at the real thing thanks to this lifesize recreation made possible with high-definition photos of the famous works and a special photo printing technique. The fancy tech means that the paintings, including the ceiling pieces, can be reproduced true to size without losing any of the quality, so you can see them up close and personal in all their glory.

MARINA ABRAMOVIC | SEVEN DEATHS

14th September - 30th October 2021
free
27 Bell St, London NW1 5BY, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Thursday: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Friday: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Saturday: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Sunday: Closed

Renowned performance artist Marina Abramovic is taking over both of Lisson Gallery’s London spaces with her Seven Deaths show, inspired by opera singer Maria Callas. The main gallery will host an immersive video installation in which Abramovic re-enacts seven ways the singer has met her end on stage (including stabbing, radiation poisoning, and being throttled by a snake) set to seven of her solos. The Cork Street gallery will display seven alabaster sculptures, which are also self-portraits, based on the same seven deaths.

MIXING IT UP | PAINTING TODAY

9th September - 12th December 2021
Hayward Gallery, London SE1 8TL, UK

It’s all about painting at this exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. Mixing It Up celebrates the medium and explores painting as a way of creating conversations with works from 31 contemporary artists, including Lubaina Himid, Alvaro Barrington, Louise Giovanelli, Allison Katz, and Oscar Murillo.

FRIEZE SCULPTURE

14th September - 31st October 2021
free
Regent's Park, London, UK

Frieze Sculpture is back in Regent’s Park this autumn to coincide with the return of Frieze London. The free display has been curated by Claire Lilley and features pieces that address themes like geopolitics, architecture and the environment from the likes of Daniel Arsham, Anthony Caro, Gisela Colón, José Pedro Croft, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Annie Morris, Isamu Noguchi, Solange Pessoa, Vanessa da Silva, and Rose Wylie and Yunizar. The Serpentine will also be presenting a piece, marking the first time a public institution has participated in Frieze Sculpture.

SUMMER EXHIBITION AT THE ROYAL ACADEMY

22nd September 2021 - 2nd January 2022
Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Friday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Saturday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Sunday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

The pandemic meant that the RA Summer Exhibition couldn’t actually happen in the summer, so it went on in the autumn instead, and the same again is happening for 2021. Yinka Shonibare is coordinating this year’s show, which includes works by Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Michael Armitage, Jade Montserrat, Hew Locke, Rita Keegan and Alvaro Barrington.

NOGUCHI

30th September 2021 - 9th January 2022
Silk St, Barbican, London EC2Y 8DS, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Thursday: 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Friday: 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Saturday: 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Sunday: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM

The Barbican is hosting the first European touring retrospective of Japanese American sculptor Isamu Noguchi’s work in 20 years. Noguchi is one of the most experimental artists of the 20th century, working across sculpture, architecture, design and dance, and this show features over 150 pieces, including bronze, stone, wood, steel and ceramic sculptures; theatre set designs; playground models; lighting, and furniture design. There’ll also be archive materials and photos on display that explore Noguchi’s life as the son of a Japanese father and American mother, and there’s also an Akari Cloud installation in the Barbican’s Conservatory.

VAN GOGH | THE IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE

9th July 2021 – 6th February 2022
Commercial Street, London E1 6LZ, UK

Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience has been a hit in the States in the US and Europe and now it’s coming to Spitalfields. The exhibition will see more than 300 of Van Gogh’s works projected across a floor-to-ceiling two-storey space so you’ll be able to soak up the art from all angles. There’ll also be a drawing studio and a VR experience that takes you through a day in the life of the artist and explores the inspiration behind some of his most iconic paintings. 

SNEAKERS UNBOXED | STUDIO TO STREET

18th May - 24th October 2021
Design Museum, Kensington High Street, London, UK

The Design Museum is diving into the world of sneakers with their major exhibition Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street. You’ll be able to see how kicks evolved from specific athletic activities to cultural symbols and check out some of biggest collabs and high-fashion takes on trainers. The exhibition will also explore the design processes behind some of the most inventive shoes on the market, including the Adidas FutureCraft robot and Puma’s work with Biorealize, and the resale market with data visualisations from Stock X. Naturally there’ll be a lot of shoes on display but there’ll also be visual work from the likes of Jamel Shabazz, Grace Ladoja, Simon Wheatley and Reuben Dangoor on show too.

WISH YOU WERE HERE | 151 YEARS OF THE BRITISH POSTCARD

20th May 2021 - 2nd January 2022
15-20 Phoenix Pl, London WC1X 0DA, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday: Closed
  • Wednesday: 10:30 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Thursday: 10:30 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Friday: 10:30 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Saturday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Sunday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

After being delayed a year by the pandemic (the exhibition was meant to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the British postcard), Wish You Were Here is finally on show at the Postal Museum. The exhibition explores the history of the postcard and the way that the cheaper and faster method of correspondence has connected people over the years. Everything from saucy seaside cartoons to notes from WWI to Victorian declarations of love will be on show alongside contemporary works from artists like Emily May, Francesca Colussi Cramer and Guy Atkins.

THE ART OF BANKSY

20th May - 21st November 2021
50 Earlham St, London WC2H 9LJ, UK

A massive Banksy exhibition is coming to London featuring 80 of the artist’s original works. The Art of Banksy, which has toured from Melbourne to Miami, is not authorised by the artist and therefore not curated in collaboration with him (not really Banksy’s style is it?) so all the pieces on show are loans from private collectors. In fact, the exhibition will display the world’s largest collection of privately owned Banksy works. Prints, screenprints, sculptures, canvasses and other unique pieces from 1997 – 2008 will be on show, ranging from the iconic ‘Girl and Balloon’ ‘Flower Thrower’ and ‘Rude Copper’ to artworks rarely seen by the public.

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ALICE | CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER

22nd May - 31st December 2021
Cromwell Rd, London SW7 2RL, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday: Closed
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 5:45 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM – 5:45 PM
  • Friday: 10:00 AM – 5:45 PM
  • Saturday: 10:00 AM – 5:45 PM
  • Sunday: 10:00 AM – 5:45 PM

Alice in Wonderland has captured people’s imaginations ever since the tale was first published 157 years ago, and this major exhibition at the V&A explores the origins and adaptations of Alice over the years. Over 300 objects will be on display in the immersive show, from Lewis Carroll’s original handwritten manuscript, Disney illustrations and Tim Burton sketches to photographs from Annie Leibovitz and Tim Walker to clothes by Vivienne Westwood. Ready to go down the rabbit hole?

YAYOI KUSAMA | INFINITY MIRROR ROOMS

18th May 2021 - 12th June 2022
Bankside, London SE1 9TG, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Friday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Saturday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Sunday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

After her pumpkin-filled Infinity Room caused lengthy queues at the Victoria Miro gallery in 2016, Yayoi Kusama returns with another major exhibition, this time at the Tate Modern. Two of her installations – the large Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life and Chandelier of Grief, which gives the illusion of endless rotating chandeliers – this year. The rooms will be presented alongside a small collection of photographs, some of which will be going on display for the very first time.

FANTASTIC BEASTS | THE WONDER OF NATURE

17th May 2021 - 3rd January 2022
Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, UK

You’ve read the books, seen the films and now you can step inside the world of Fantastic Beasts with this exhibition at the Natural History Museum. Inspired by the wizarding world, this display explores the wonders of the natural world that have inspired myths and legends for centuries.

OUR FUTURE PLANET

19th May 2021 – 4th September 2022
free
Exhibition Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 2DD, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday: Closed
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Friday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Saturday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Sunday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

The Science Museum is hosting a major exhibition on carbon capture and storage, which will be open in the run up to COP26. Our Future Planet will showcase some of the cutting-edge tech and nature-based solutions being developed to hep remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reduce the impact of climate change, and explore how carbon can be held in storage or used to create everyday items like toothpaste or vodka. Objects on display include the Climeworks Direct Air Capture machine, the first prototype mechanical tree that absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere, and apparatus from the UK’s BIFoR FACE experiment, which models the impact of climate change on forest ecosystems.

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