These Are the Best Exhibitions to See This July

Here are the shows to see this month

This city is fit to bursting with great art, with major exhibitions running at all of London’s big museums and galleries and smaller shows featuring the work of emerging talents dotted all over town. Whether you prefer photography or want to be immersed into the art, you’ve got plenty of exhibitions to choose from – even free ones if you’re on a budget or out exploring on a whim.

You can stay up to date with all the latest exhibitions by signing up to our dedicated exhibitions newsletter but we’ve also rounded up the best exhibitions to see this month so you don’t miss out. July is proving to a be a very stylish month, with exhibitions on Naomi Campbell, Taylor Swift’s clothes, Barbie and the evolution of fashion photography all running, along with large-scale light and video installations from Anthony McCall and Francis Alÿs.

black and white portrait of Naomi Campbell

NAOMI In Fashion

Naomi Campbell has had an unrivalled career that’s spanned almost four decades and now the V&A is honouring that with an entire exhibition dedicated to the supermodel. The show, titled NAOMI In Fashion, has been produced in collaboration with Campbell and will focus on foregrounding her voice and perspective. Campbell has granted the V&A access to her extensive collection of haute couture and leading ready-to-wear ensembles. These will be displayed alongside loans from designer archives as well as objects from the V&A’s own collection. In total, there’ll be around 100 looks from the likes of Alexander McQueen, Azzedine Alaïa, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Gianni and Donatella Versace, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Karl Lagerfeld, Kenneth Ize, Valentino, Virgil Abloh, Vivienne Westwood, Yves Saint Laurent and many others. The exhibition will also feature a fashion photography installation curated by Edward Enninful OBE and recognise Campbell’s mentors who inspired her to fight social injustice, champion diversity and support emerging creatives.

July 2024
Cromwell Rd, London SW7 2RL

Barbie exhibition at the Design Museum in London

Barbie | The Exhibition

After the cultural phenomenon that was the Barbie movie – a release that had the whole world talking – the Design Museum is hosting a major retrospective on everyone’s favourite doll. Three years in the making, the exhibition will retrace nearly seven decades of history to tell the story of the iconic brand, with a particular focus on its design, in celebration of its 65th birthday. The show is being presented in collaboration with Mattel Inc. which has granted the Museum special access to extensive Barbie archives, meaning that there’ll be a lot of rare and unique items on display. These will appear alongside other key loans and acquisitions, all of which will come together to explore the story of Barbie, as well as fashion, architecture, furniture and vehicle design. A rare first edition Barbie from 1959 will feature among the dolls on display, as well as a one-of-a-kind Talking Barbie prototype and the best-selling Totally Hair Barbie.

Opens Fri 5th July 2024
224 – 238 Kensington High Street, London W8 6AG

A costume belonging to Taylor Swift on display at the V&A Museum

Taylor Swift | Songbook Trail

A little while ago, London’s Victoria & Albert Museum made headlines when a job ad went live on their website looking for ‘Superfan Advisors’ to be on hand for all things Taylor Swift. Now, they’ve announced that they’ll be opening a new exhibition – Taylor Swift | Songbook Trail – showcasing outfits worn by the 14-time Grammy Award-winning artist. Launching this July, the trail will feature costumes and accessories on loan from Taylor’s own personal archive which retrace the iconic singer’s career (or, her Eras). Expect to see customised cowboy boots from way back in 2007 alongside pieces from some of her most recent music videos. The Songbook Trail will explore Taylor’s legacy further through instruments, awards, storyboards and previously unseen archival items.

Opens Sat 27th July 2024
V&A South Kensington, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL

children playing with skipping ropes

Francis Alÿs | Ricochets

The Barbican is hosting Ricochets, the largest exhibition on Francis Alÿs in the UK in almost 15 years. Alÿs has spent two decades travelling around the world to capture children at play, including leapfrog in Iraq and jump rope in Hong Kong, for his series ‘Children’s Games’, and this immersive show will celebrate the universality of play. As well as displaying the film installation, the first time it’s been presented in the UK, the exhibition will feature a new set of animated films depicting hand games.

July 2024
Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS

legs wearing coloured tights and black heels poking from beneath a curtain

Beyond Fashion

The Beyond Fashion exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery tracks how fashion photography has changed from the presentation of products to a new visual language and an art form in its own right. The show features works by Nick Knight, Peter Lindbergh, Viviane Sassen, Paolo Roversi, Miles Aldridge, and Ellen von Unwerth, with models and designers like Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Christy Turlington, Christian Dior, Commes des Garcons, Alexander McQueen and Valentino being represented. Over 100 images are on display, ranging from street photography to magazine covers, plus a section on film that includes the work of Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio and an installation that presents a visual interpretation of Jean Paul Gaultier’s perfumes.

July 2024
Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London, SW3 4RY

Yayoi Kusama pumpkin sculpture in a park

Yayoi Kusama | Pumpkin

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has exhibited her work in London many times, including her signature polka dot-covered sculptures and immersive mirror rooms. And now she’s back with a brand new piece, Pumpkin, which’ll be standing by the Round Pond in Kensington Gardens this summer. The installation also marks Kusama’s return to Serpentine since her debut British retrospective back in 2000. At 6 metres tall and 5.5 metres in diameter, this is her tallest bronze pumpkin sculpture to date, so you’ll be able to see it in the park easily. Kusama has been featuring pumpkins in her work since 1946 as the vegetable was a fixture of her childhood; her family cultivated pumpkin seeds and had fields of the squash around their home.

Opens Tues 9th July 2024
Kensington Gardens, London, W8 4PR

Peter Kennard image of Margaret Thatcher

Peter Kennard | Archive of Dissent

Whitechapel Gallery is putting on one of the most extensive displays of Peter Kennard’s work with the Archive of Dissent exhibition. Pieces from across the artist’s five-decade career, including some of the most iconic resistance and anti-war imagery ever produced, are on display in the galleries within the former Whitechapel Library space. The exhibition is presented as an active and evolving archive, with printed material displayed on walls, placards, on lecterns and in vitrines, as well as showcasing Kennard’s imagery, it dives into his process of making the photomontages that have become his signature.

Opens Tues 23rd July 2024
Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High St, London, E1 7QX

a room with pages of text on the walls

Tavares Strachan | There Is Light Somewhere

New York-based Bahamian artist Tavares Strachan, a recipient of the MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’, is known for his bold and ambitious works, like launching a gold sculpture of the first Black American in the US space programme into orbit and sending a 4.5 ton block of ice to Bahamas from the Arctic. You can see some of his art up close at the Hayward Gallery, which is hosting the Tavares Strachan: There Is Light Somewhere exhibition. The show explores the way he tackles cultural visibility, neglected figures and how the past impacts on a sense of belonging through large-scale collages, neon works, mixed-media installations, and bronze and ceramic sculptures. Pieces on display include a giant bronze head of Marcus Garvey, an encyclopedia of lost stories, and tribal masks from Africa and Papua New Guinea paired with plaster busts of Western Black cultural figures.

July 2024
Hayward Gallery, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX

light sculptures in a dark room

Anthony McCall | Solid Light

Tate Modern is hosting an exhibition on Anthony McCall where you’ll be able to step inside his immersive light sculptures. McCall is known for his work that blurs the boundaries between film, sculpture and performance, and the Solid Light exhibition gives you a chance to experience his light installations. Beams of light are projected through a thin mist, which shift and move as people pass through the space, creating new perspectives for the viewer.

July 2024
Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG