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Got no plans this weekend and need something to do? You can’t go wrong with a trip to one of London’s best galleries or museums. Here are all the best exhibitions on this weekend.
London is filled with great galleries and museums, with iconic institutions like the Science Museum, the V&A, Tate Modern, and the Royal Academy all calling the city home. That means on any given weekend, you’re spoiled for choice with interactive exhibitions, art installations, photography exhibitions and more all happening in the city.
If you like immersive exhibitions, there are two massive ones on this weekend – one is all about Vincent Van Gogh and his most iconic paintings and the other is an Infinity Room from Yayoi Kusama at the Tate Modern, and both are perfect selfie opportunities too. There are also a load of free exhibitions on in London that are perfect for the weekend. With no need to book tickets, you can decide to drop in last minute – very handy for when your plans get cancelled or the forecast is showing wall-to-wall rain.
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.
Tate Britain is hosting a major survey of feminist art, featuring pieces by over 100 women artists working in the UK, with the Women in Revolt! exhibition. Featuring a range of mediums from painting and sculpture to film and performance, the exhibition explores how women used radical ideas and rebellious action to fight for women’s liberation and change British culture. Issues and events like punk, the visibility of Black and South Asian women artists, Section 28 and the AIDS epidemic, and Greenham Common and the peace movement are reflected in the artworks on show, many of which – including Bobby Baker’s ‘An Edible Family in a Mobile Home’ – are being presented for the first time since the 70s.
Take a trip back to 1990 and relive the music of the time with the 33 ⅓ Vinyl Exhibition at The Vinyl Cafe in Tileyard. The display features album sleeves of 33 records from 1990, from the likes of Happy Mondays, Prince, Madonna, Jane’s Addiction, Charlatans, Pixies, Ride and George Michael, 33 ⅓ years after their release and 33 ⅓ years since music manufacturer and exhibition organisers Key Production Group started making vinyl for the industry.
Immersive events space Arches London Bridge has debuted its latest major exhibition – and this one’s all about Elvis. Direct From Graceland boasts more than 400 artefacts, many of which (as the name suggests) have been shipped to London straight from Elvis’ Memphis home and over half are being displayed in the UK for the first time. Expect to see some of the most recognisable objects from the legendary singer’s career, including his gold lamé suit, Las Vegas-era jumpsuits and aviator sunglasses, alongside more personal pieces such as a gold-plated telephone, his wallet and go-to cologne. Plus, mega fans can even select the ‘White Glove Experience’ when booking for the chance to hold Elvis’ international belt and gold microphone used in Las Vegas in 1969. If you’ve always wanted to make that trip to Graceland but never quite got round to it, this is the next best thing.
Forget gingerbread houses, there’s an actual gingerbread city at Westfield London. Created by the Museum of Architecture, this is the seventh year of the project and this time, the theme for the exhibition is ‘Water in Cities’. The aim is to explore how cities could be designed to be more water resilient (something that’s becoming more and more pressing each year), only doing it through the mediums of biscuits, sweets, cakes, and icing. Not only is this a sweet way to help get the public excited about architecture and innovative, sustainable design, but a little holiday cheer never hurt anybody.
After a smash hit retrospective at Tate Britain in 2017, another major Hockney exhibition is finally coming to town. David Hockney: Drawing From Life initially opened in February 2020 but only managed a few weeks before the pandemic shuttered the gallery. Now the exhibition is being restaged with portraits of his mother, his friend Celia Birtwell, curator Gregory Evans, and printer Maurice Payne, as well as a series of self-portraits, done in a variety of mediums from pencil to acrylic to digital. These will hang alongside thirty new pieces – including the viral one of Harry Styles – Hockney produced during and after the pandemic, depicting visitors to his Normandy studio across 2021 and 2022.
Emergence Magazine is hosting Shifting Landscapes, a free exhibition at Bargehouse running during COP28, to explore the way the Earth is changing during the climate crisis. The immersive exhibition features works from nine international artists, who have created installations, soundscapes, large-scale photography and film, including a film on the destruction of rainforests in Cambodia, an installation on the role of bees and beekeepers in ecosystems, photographs that highlight the impact of rising temperatures in Tunisia and the changing landscape of the Arctic, and a VR experience that transports you to the Hoh Rain Forest in North America to understand the impact of human-generated sound on the living world.
Thank goodness for ALO, the London-based street artist bringing joy and colour to the streets of London for us to enjoy – much like a modern-day, art-school-chic Robin Hood. If you’ve not yet caught his work in the enclave of East London, head over to Jealous Gallery, which is ending 2023 with a bang with a display of the artist’s remarkable works in a new exhibition titled BABEL. ALO’s muses, which he often refers to as ‘London’s unseen’, take centre stage as the artist continues his exploration of the human form. Exaggerated and distorted figures stand powerful in bold, vibrant colour, each created using an array of mixed media techniques. The result? A seriously eye-catching, thought-provoking, ever so slightly spooky (it’s the eyes) exhibition that is definitely a must-see.
Also on show is the artist’s new screen print ‘Morgana’, created in the Jealous Print Studios this year and seen for the first time at Woolwich Print Fair in October. If East London isn’t your regular haunt, ALO’s given us a reason to head over.
Gucci’s travelling archival exhibition is making a stop in London as it’s taking over 180 Studios for just shy of three months this autumn/winter. Gucci Cosmos premiered in Shanghai back in spring with a collection of the fashion house’s most legendary pieces, including looks from Tom Ford, Frida Giannini and Alessandro Michele, many of which are being viewed outside of the archive for the first time. The exhibition, which retraces 102 years of history, has been designed by contemporary artist Es Devlin and curated by Italian fashion theorist and critic Maria Luisa Frisa. Gucci Cosmos is a must-see for fashion history fans and/or anyone already experiencing London Fashion Week withdrawal.
Mat Collishaw is exploring the relationship between the natural world and art history with the Petrichor exhibition at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Gardens. The show includes the UK premieres of his ‘Alluvion’ series of AI artworks inspired by Dutch Old Masters and his video installation ‘Even to the End’, a piece inspired by the transportation of plant specimens around the world, as well as the gallery premiere of ‘Heterosis’, a flower hybridisation experience inspired by the tulip mania of the 17th century. You’ll also be able to see his animations ‘The Centrifugal Soul’ and ‘Albion’, which feature courtship displays of birds of paradise and the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest respectively.
The Wellcome Collection is exploring notions of beauty across different time periods and different cultures with major exhibition The Cult of Beauty. The display explores the influence of morality, health, age, status, race and gender on the evolution of established norms of beauty, by looking at the ideals of beauty over time, the relationship between medicine and cosmetics, and how beauty can be used to subvert social constructs. Over 200 items will be on show, including an ancient Egyptian mirror, products by Rihanna’s Fenty brand, a powder compact designed by Salvador Dali, photographs of hair traditions in Nigeria and an AI-generated installation of a morphing human body created from a range of datasets from different bodies.
The London Transport Museum is opening its Global Poster Gallery, its first permanent gallery dedicated to the history of poster art and design, with the How to Make a Poster exhibition. The inaugural display will explore poster commissioning and creativity in the pre-digital age, with more than 110 pieces on show. The Underground’s first ever pictorial poster, John Hassall’s 1908 work ‘No need to ask a p’liceman’ by John Hassall alongside posters by designers and artists like Edward McKnight Kauffer, Man Ray, Hans Unger, Abram Games, Tom Eckersley, Paul Catherall, and Dora M Batty. The various techniques used in poster production will also be showcased in the exhibition as well as the way the posters were displayed and the reception they received from both London travellers and the art world.
All you skaters will wanna roll down to the Design Museum to catch Skateboard, the first major UK exhibition to explore the history of skateboard design from the 50s to today. Author, designer and skater Jonathan Olivares is curating the show, which’ll chart the evolution of the skateboard from its homemade beginnings to professional advancements and its acceptance into wider culture. Over 90 rare and unique boards will be on display, including Laura Thornhill’s Logan Earth Ski 1970s pro model, Tony Hawk’s first ever professional model skateboard, and Sky Brown’s first pro model, alongside hardware, safety equipment, VHS tapes, mags and DVDs.
With RE/SISTERS: A Lens on Gender and Ecology, the Barbican is exploring the relationship between gender and ecology, environmental and social justice, and the links between the oppression of women and the destruction of the planet. The show includes photography, film and installations from almost 50 international female and non-binary artists, including Laura Aguilar, Judy Chicago, Minerva Cuevas, Anne Duk Hee Jordan, Otobong Nkanga, Ingrid Pollard, Pamela Singh, and Taloi Havini, whose work engages with and protests against the current ecological crisis.
The Hayward Gallery is presenting the largest retrospective to date of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s work with the Time Machine exhibition. Sugimoto is known for his enigmatic photographs and this display will feature pieces from all his major series, including ‘Diorama’, ‘Theaters’, ‘Seascapes’, ‘Architecture’, ‘Portraits’, ‘Sea of Buddha’, ‘Lightning Fields’ and ‘Opticks’. The exhibition will showcase his philosophical yet playful exploration of time and memory; his interest in the history of photography, maths and optical science; and his use of 19th century photographic practices such as the use of dioramas and wax figures.
The Tate Modern is presenting the first major survey of Philip Guston’s work in the UK for more than 20 years. The exhibition showcases Guston’s work over five decades, during which he created paintings and drawings that responded to the social and political upheavals of the late 20th century, exploring how his work encompassed both the personal and political, the funny and the tragic, and the abstract and the figurative. The show includes his large-scale paintings that feature hooded Ku Klux Klan figures in an examination of evil and racism, his poem-pictures, and dream-inspired late works.
The 59th Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is being hosted at the Natural History Museum. The display features awarded images selected around 50,000 entries and it showcases the beauty and diversity of the natural world, with everything from snow leopards hunting in China to seals in Greece to snow bisons in the US depicted in the photographs.
A slice of Seoul is landing in London with Delight, an exhibition about the city’s heritage and culture. The show has been produced by Seoul-based artist Gyoungtae Hong and director Younsook Im, and curated by Daehyung Lee, as a way for Londoners to experience Seoul in a new way – or for the first time. The exhibition is designed to be fully immersive and is presented as a series of multimedia installations. Expect to see 12 large-scale pieces that represent Korean deities, distinctive landmarks (such as Gwanghwamun, the main gate of Gyeongbok Palace), and contemporary cultural hubs. The works exhibited include major digital displays, including one comprising 631 glowing lights, but there are also excerpts from works of literature that tell stories of the city’s history, life, and identity.
Hold a butterfly on the tip of your finger at this immersive botanical garden at Outernet London. Created in collaboration with Pixel Artworks, The Butterfly Trail is the world’s first mixed reality experience and it’s running on Outernet’s four-storey high, 16k wraparound screen. Using cutting-edge exhibition tech, The Butterfly Trail will take you through explorer Professor Peter Pelgrin’s Botanical workshop and inside his Glass House where you can interact with the space, release AR butterflies and trigger real-time animations using your smartphone.
After being rescheduled twice due to the pandemic, the Royal Academy is finally presenting the first major UK survey of Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović. Known for her pushing her mental and physical endurance to the limit during with her work, such as living in a three-room home inside a NYC gallery for twelve days while fasting, Abramović is a performance art pioneer. This exhibition will showcase pieces from across the past 50 years, including video, sculpture, installation and performance – four of her performance pieces, ‘Nude with Skeleton’, ‘Imponderabilia’, ‘Luminosity’ and ‘The House with the Ocean View’, will be staged during the run by performance artists trained in the Marina Abramović method.
Based on a show of the same name held in Paris, Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto at the V&A exhibition will feature over 180 looks (including pieces from the V&A’s own archive plus outfits worn by Lauren Bacall and Marlene Dietrich) as well as perfume, cosmetics, jewellery and accessories, and cover Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel’s career from the opening of her first millinery boutique in 1910 to her final collection in 1971. The exhibition will explore Chanel’s approach to dressing women and the way that she redefined fashion – she created clothes for the modern woman, with tweed jackets and trousers offering a chic and practical alternative to the traditional corseted silhouettes of the day – as well as looking at her personal style and her legacy..
Tate Britain is hosting a major exhibition on Sarah Lucas, featuring over 75 works from across four decades of her career. Lucas, who’s known for her exploration of the human body, gender, sex and class, rose to fame as one of the Young British Artists in the early nineties, and some of her early works from this period will be presented in the exhibition. The display will also include many of her chair and seated sculptures, concrete pieces, large-scale photographs, nude plaster casts, and recent sculptures made between 2019 – 2023, ten of which are being shown for the very first time.
The Art of Banksy first landed in London in the spring of 2021 after touring the world, popping up in cities from Melbourne to Miami, and following another international jaunt, it’s returning to the capital this summer bigger and better than ever. The show 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 official Banksy works from 1997 – 2008. This time around, 110 pieces will be on show, including the iconic ‘Girl and Balloon’ ‘Flower Thrower’ and ‘Rude Copper’ as well as artworks from Dismaland, ones that reference the war in Ukraine and some going on public display for the first time.
This exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery is showing another side to Peter Paul Rubens and the women he painted. Primarily known for his depictions of voluptuous women, he also painted many portraits of his wives and children, as well as religious and mythological figures. This show, featuring many masterpieces being displayed in the UK for the first time, will explore his different relationships with women and how they impacted his career.
The Design Museum is teaming up with the British Fashion Council to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its NEWGEN programme by hosting one of the largest surveys of contemporary fashion in the UK. REBEL: 30 Years of London Fashion will showcase the work of young designers, like Molly Goddard, Wales Bonner, Christopher Kane, Simone Rocha, Erdem and JW Anderson, who have changed the fashion landscape in the UK and beyond. Over 100 garments will be on show, including Bjork’s iconic swan dress, a Steven Stokey Daley outfit worn by Harry Styles in his ‘Golden’ video, and a replica of the HARRI inflatable latex suit worn by Sam Smith at this year’s BRIT Awards, alongside films, drawings, memorabilia and archive material from a range of UK-based designers.
The Missing Thread: Untold Stories of Black British Fashion at Somerset House will explore the profound – and largely under-appreciated – impact of Black creativity on the UK’s fashion landscape. Expect to be taken on a journey from the 1970s to the present day, charting the undeniable influence of Black music, photography, art and design on fashion along the way. The first theme, Home, will look at the intercontinental roots of Black British style and how safety is found in community. The second will explore how Tailoring has been used by Black Britons in establishing their own identity. The third, Performance, will spotlight Black performers and examine the effects and power of ‘being seen’. And the final will centre around Nightlife and the freedom of expression afforded by its spaces. In a fifth part of the exhibition, visitors will be told the story of the late Joe Casely-Hayford OBE, a fashion designer, cult icon and favourite of Lou Reed, The Clash, U2 and more. With exclusive access to the Casely-Hayford archive, the exhibition will close with a wide selection of unseen studio material and items from the designer’s most renowned collections.
Following in the footsteps of Van Gogh, Klimt, Kahlo, Rivera and Dali, the French impressionist is the latest artist to get the immersive treatment. Monet: The Immersive Experience will feature 360-degree projections of Monet’s masterpieces across a two-storey space, so you’ll really be able to get up close to those brushstrokes, as well as re-creations of his creative atelier and his gardens at Giverny; bridges dripping in flowers that allow you to step inside (and over) his famous ‘Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies’ painting; a VR experience where you can dive into the inspo and explore the landscapes behind some of his most iconic works, like ‘Poppies’ and ‘Haystack at the end of summer’; a space where you can learn all about Monet’s life; and even a chance for you to have a go at creating your very own artwork to be projected onto the walls.
See the wonders of space without having to leave London, let alone Earth, by heading to this immersive NASA exhibition at Outernet. The free show features real footage of the galaxy sourced from NASA, as well as other space agencies, which you’ll be able to watch on the four-storey high, 16K wraparound screens from a space station specially created for the experience. If you’ve always fancied being Tim Peake or Neil Armstrong, you won’t wanna miss this.
The Tate Modern is celebrating contemporary African photography with the A World in Common exhibition. Works from a range of African artists across different generations are on show, touching on themes like urbanism, spirituality, identity and climate change. The exhibition explores how photographs have been able to travel across geographies and histories and how the medium has allowed the past and the future to co-exist.
This exhibition at the Tate Modern explores the relationship between painting and photography through some of the most iconic artworks of the modern era, looking at how artists capture moments in time using the paintbrush and the camera. As well as paintings by Pablo Picasso and Paula Rego and photographs by Hiroshi Sugimoto and Jeff Wall, the display also includes pieces that blur the lines between the two mediums, like Andy Warhol’s silkscreen prints, Pauline Boty’s pop paintings and Andreas Gurksy’s large-scale photographs.
The V&A is celebrating some of the biggest divas of our time with major exhibition DIVA. The show will dive into the origins of the diva, explore how some of the best-known performers shaped popular culture, and celebrate how the divas of past and present express their power and creativity. Over 60 outfits will be on display, (some for the very first time), including Marilyn Monroe’s fringed dress from Some Like It Hot, Bob Mackie designs for Cher and Tina Turner, and Sandy Powell’s 50th birthday ensemble for Elton John, alongside lyrics, photographs, sketches and other personal items.
Artificial Intelligence is on most (if not all) of our minds at the moment, but Science Gallery London is looking at the technological phenomenon from a different perspective with its new exhibition, AI: Who’s Looking After Me?. Looking to avoid the more fatalistic language typically used when covering AI, the show will explore the ways in which it’s already shaping our lives and the near future through its implementation in healthcare, the justice system, daily commutes, and more. Some highlights include James Bridle’s film about self-driving cars and their projected agency; a robotic arm that looks after a group of house cats and learns from their behaviours; Wesley Goatley’s graveyard of defunct Alexa voice assistants; an interactive romance experiment that uses an AI trained on everything the internet knows about love; and a multimedia project by Sarah Selby that highlights the power of algorithms within the UK’s immigration systems.
Each year, the City of London works with artists and partners to curate a new trail of artworks that forms the annual sculpture park, Sculpture in the City. This summer marks the 12th edition of the sculpture park and features the work of 17 world-class artists and spans the Square Mile. New pieces from the likes of Simeon Barclay, Phyllida Barlow, Larry Bell, Rafael D’Aló, Isamu Noguchi and Mika Rottenberg will be joining some sculptures already on display, including Jesse Pollock’s striking life-sized model of a traditional grain store, and Oliver Bragg’s bench plaque that reads “In loving memory of a loving memory”. The nature of the sculpture park means that it’s 100% free and open 24/7, so you can stroll up and view the art any time you like.
Friends and collaborators Larry Achiampong and David Blandy are bringing Genetic Automata to the Wellcome Collection, an exhibition that explores race and identity in this age of avatars, videogames and ancestry DNA. The show will feature four films that delve into the subject of scientific racism and how it persists today, whether in education, healthcare, science, politics, or another sector. The duo’s latest work, _GOD_MODE (2023), has been co-commissioned by the Wellcome Collection, Black Cultural Archives (BCA), and Wellcome Connecting Science to premiere as part of the series. Each film includes a spoken word soundtrack and imagery from video games, with a specific focus on those with dystopian sci-fi narratives that deal with the unethical use of genetic material.
Immerse yourself in the BBC series Seven Worlds, One Planet and explore the wonders of the natural world at this BBC Earth Experience. Hosted at the purpose-built Daikin Centre in Earl’s Court Footage will be projected across multiple multi-angle screens, with bespoke narration from Sir David Attenborough, giving you a 360-degree view of the different environments of the seven continents, from a firefly light show in North America to snub-nosed monkeys huddling for warmth in Asia.
A patagotitan mayorum skeleton, a member of the titanosaur family and one of the largest creatures to ever walk the Earth, is going on display in the Natural History Museum’s Waterhouse Gallery as part of the Titanosaur: Life as the Biggest Dinosaur exhibition. And when we say large, we mean large. The titanosaur frame weighs 57 tonnes, that’s four times heavier than Dippy the Diplodocus, and is 27 metres long, a full 12 metres longer than Hope the Whale. As well as getting up close and personal with this supersize dino, you’ll be able to find out how it grew to be so big from an egg the size of a football and how it found food. The skeleton is on loan from the MEF in Argentina (where it was excavated in 2014) and it’s going home after the exhibition closes, so all you dino fans won’t want to miss this.
A new immersive art gallery, Lightroom, is launching with an inaugural exhibition of works by one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century, David Hockney. The dedicated four-storey space has been designed to facilitate the large-scale projections and high-tech surround sound that we’ve come to expect from such exhibitions, paired with a bar and seating area run by St John. David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away) will bring together 60 years of the artist’s work in a cycle of six themed chapters, alongside a specially composed score by Nico Muhly and commentary by Hockney himself. The experience will see the likes of ‘Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)’, ‘A Bigger Grand Canyon’ and other iconic pieces shape a theatrical exploration of Hockney’s career, from the 60s to the present day; LA to Yorkshire to Normandy.
Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience has been a hit in the States and in Europe and now it’s come to Spitalfields. The exhibition sees 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’s also 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.GET TICKETS
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.
We’re no strangers to immersive art experiences in London but Frameless is taking things to a whole new level. It’s the capital’s first permanent digital art experience, featuring some of the world’s most iconic artworks spread across the walls, floors and ceilings of a 30,000 sq ft space. You can get up close and personal with over 40 works from 28 artists, including the likes of Klimt, Munch, Kandinsky, Monet, Rembrandt, Dali, Cezanne and van Gogh. The Frameless experience is spread across four different themed galleries – Beyond Reality, Colour In Motion, The World Around Us and The Art Of Abstraction – with bespoke musical scores accompanying the displays.
Dive into a world of illusions and discover the science behind how they work at Twist Museum. Created in collaboration with experts from the worlds of art, psychology and neuroscience, Twist blends immersive multi-sensory experiences with education and technology to help you understand what happens to the brain when your senses are deceived and how different stimuli shape your sense of reality. There are over 60 exhibits inside, including the Ames Room, which creates the feeling of shrinking; the Life Without Colour Room, where you can experience a world without colour; the Sound Lab, where you can unlock the extrasensory power of your ears; and the Kaleidoscope Room, which reacts and refracts to your presence.
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